With the school year just completed, we find ourselves on this beautiful Prescott Memorial Day taking a deep breath, feeling gratitude for the successes of the school year as we embrace the reason for the holiday: remembering those who have faithfully served our country to bring us the freedom that defines our great nation. In the business of education, we honor the past, and always have our eye on the future.
While remembering our veterans today, we can also look at those who will be defending our freedom in the future. I am reminded of Sara Nguyen, Prescott High School senior who was just accepted into the United States Naval academy. She joins Nakai Lake, who graduated last year, and was just appointed to the Air Force Academy. When Sarah and Nakai enter their respective academies, they will bring the total of PHS graduates currently attending military academies to six, an amazing number. If you spend a few minutes with these kids, you will see that the future is in great hands with these amazing leaders. It’s no surprise, considering that our Air Force JROTC program just won its 11th consecutive Distinguished Unit Award, a national award presented to the nation’s top units by the United States Air Force JROTC Headquarters. This is a testament to the outstanding leadership and teaching provided to our cadets by Lt. Colonel (Ret) Bill DeKemper and Colonel (Ret) Denny Peeples. DeKemper just won national honors with the USAF JROTC Outstanding Instructor Award, recognizing him as the top 5 percent of the 2,000 instructors that teach more than 890 units around the world.
I am looking back today at the great year we have had in Prescott Unified School District. This was a year with many awards and honors. I would like to thank the community for the heartfelt response to the award that will be presented to me on July 12, The Arizona School Administrators 2017 Distinguished Superintendent Award. This is undoubtedly a reflection of the great students, staff and community that makes PUSD what it is. On the same day, PHS will be honored as one of four high schools in Arizona that have been accredited for over a century.
In December, the PUSD Governing Board won the state’s highest honor for a school board, the Lou Ella Kleinz Award. We are blessed with a highly professional and student-centered board, elected by our Prescott citizens. At the same time, PHS teachers Courtney Check and Dave Stengel won the statewide high school Golden Bell Award for the 20-year-old U.S. History and English block at PHS.
PUSD had 14 teachers nominated for the Yavapai County Teacher of the Year, seven finalists, and 3 category winners. We are so proud of our award-winning teachers. There is not enough room to highlight the many honors that our staff and students have brought to our community. We have a state championship mountain bike team, award-winning athletes in every sport, top-performing musicians, artists, future business leaders, and so much more.
We are so proud in PUSD to offer the opportunity for our kids to thrive at so many things. We are honored to serve Every Child, Every Day.
Joe Howard is superintendent of Prescott Unified School District.