Scottsdale Cherokee Elementary is ranked No. 13 in United States

Walter Chantler (File photo)

Walter Chantler (File photo)

Why choose Cherokee Elementary School? Why not?

Ranked 13th in the nation and fourth in the valley, this comes as no surprise to me.

I’m Walter Chantler, a proud Cherokee parent as well as its proud principal. I was pleased, but not surprised when Cherokee earned a spot on the list of “The 50 Best American Public Elementary Schools,” ranking 13th nationwide, and was identified as one of the “Top 5 Schools in the Valley” according to the Arizona Republic.

For the last four years the Arizona Department of Education has ranked all public and charter schools based on a student growth model, and again Cherokee was at the top of the list, earning 173 points and an “A” for the fourth year in a row. The Arizona Educational Foundation has also recognized Cherokee as an “A+ School of Excellence.”

So why is Cherokee doing so well?

Within our walls you will find skilled teachers engaging students who are eager to learn. These teachers are the secret to our success because of their unwavering commitment to our students.

Not only is every single one of our teachers certified, but each meets the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) guidelines from the Arizona Department of Education, something not required by our competitors.

The Cherokee staff is dedicated and talented, held in high regard by its community, with very little turnover.

Here at Cherokee, we have a very unique approach to educating students and treat each learner as an individual. Data drives lesson planning and teachers utilize flexible grouping, 1:1 instruction, small group instruction, differentiated instruction, hands on learning and specialized materials.

Our PANDA (Program for Assessed Needs in Developmental Areas) program is designed to facilitate the growth and development of our youngest learners with special needs through early intervention.

Cherokee also utilizes dollars from fundraisers to provide classrooms with classified aides as well as reading and math specialists. These specialists provide students with remediation and also provide a number of students with enrichment activities.
A few extra resources go a long way and have allowed us to meet every student’s needs.

In addition to paid staff, we have an army of parents who make time to volunteer in the classrooms. Our teachers train parents to run centers and to work with small groups of students to practice concepts. Parents also help in the office, the cafeteria, the library, the parking lots and in the teacher workroom. This school is blessed to have such a supportive community!

Cherokee Elementary is part of the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), one of only nine Districts in the state to earn an “A” four years in a row.

SUSD teachers are offered professional development opportunities not seen in other Districts. Our teachers have limitless opportunities to learn and to stay on top of what is current and relevant in education.

SUSD is not only the state’s premier public school district but it remains focused on the whole child, providing a well-rounded education that includes a rigorous academic curriculum rich in the arts and athletics.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Chantler is principal of Cherokee Elementary School, located in the Scottsdale Unified School District. He can be contacted at 480-484-8710 or

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