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Sat, Oct. 19

Superintendent's report: Focusing on educational experiences in HUSD

It is election time again! Inevitably, we will start hearing the traditional buzz words of educational reform such as accountability and standardized testing as we head toward November.

Predictably, it is during this period of each election cycle that each time one picks up the newspaper or turns on the TV we’ll hear these buzz words. We seem to be stuck in this era of school reform. Despite the overwhelming evidence that terms and actions like accountability and standardized testing have led to an increase in transactional learning opportunities and classrooms, we will no doubt witness an increase in these terms through the media.

I am very proud of the work being done in the Humboldt Unified School District. Of course, we’ve had to look at testing and accountability. We are indeed proud that our elementary schools scored at or above the state average in every tested area of the AzMERIT; we are proud that Bradshaw Mountain High School has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek for its outstanding accomplishments; and we are proud that Coyote Springs Elementary School won the Golden Bell Award last year.

But, what we are most proud of is the educational experiences that our students are receiving in Humboldt. More and more of our classrooms are turning their focus to providing and creating these experiences. Just last week, Coyote Springs welcomed aerospace engineers from NASA to the campus to work with their students on a Mars mission. The students at Humboldt Elementary School continue to focus on computer coding during their computer elective classes. And, our middle school students have a variety of opportunities to explore in our STEM-based Paxton-Patterson Labs from computer aided drafting to digital music to flight technology.

We have a real opportunity to tap into our students’ passions. I reflect on my own children who are fortunate enough to attend schools in HUSD. When I ask my eighth grader what his most memorable educational experience was, it wasn’t the day we rolled the laptop carts in for AzMERIT testing. He recalls the time he and classmates went down to Phoenix and finished second in the state at the Honeywell Aerospace Challenge for their presentation on sustainable life, on their group-created lunar base module on the moon. Unsurprisingly, my younger son didn’t recite the day his AzMERIT results were released by the Department of Education as his favorite educational experience. He listed the year-long focus in his honors class on the history of aviation and aviation technology and navigation, culminating with the opportunity to fly an airplane … as an 11 year old.

So as we embark on yet another round of education reform rhetoric in the political spectrum, Humboldt will be focused on educational experiences for our students, finding those opportunities that tap into the passions of our students. We are not focused on reforming education in HUSD, we are focused on transforming education in HUSD. We understand that accountability is important, and we appreciate accountability, but we also know that accountability does not lead to transformation. We know that autonomy, mastery, and passion lead to innovation and innovation leads to transformation.

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