Barro’s Pizza Seeks Local Student for $10,000 Tuition Giveaway

Barro’s Pizza, a local family-owned pizzeria, is giving away $10,000 to one Arizona resident in the 2020 Arizona Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway. The prize money is available to help pay college tuition or any related educational expenses. Entries will be accepted online at barrospizza.com/drpeppercontest starting today, Sept. 14.

“This is our ninth year celebrating our partnership with Dr Pepper to give away $10,000 to a local student,” said Ken Barro, owner of Barro’s Pizza. “Helping others in our community is at the foundation of who we are as a company. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, it’s a great time to reflect on our wonderful customers that help us reach new milestones every day — that allow us to participate in important initiatives like this one.”

The Barro’s Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway has awarded $75,000 to students in Arizona since 2012. Submissions are open to all Arizona residents 18 years or older. A winner will be selected at random from the online and text-to-win entries. The winner can use the money to pay for current expenses such as tuition and books or to pay off outstanding student loans. Entries will be accepted Sept. 14 — Dec. 14. For more information about the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway, visit drpeppertuition.com.

Sweetwater Community School Now Registering Students for Night Class

PVSchools announced this week that, for teens who need credit recovery or want to get ahead, Sweetwater Community School is now enrolling high school students for second quarter Night Classes.

“Night Classes are an incredible opportunity for all students in the district to earn and/or recover credits in smaller class sizes with a concentrated curriculum,” Courtney Thompson, a night class teacher at Sweetwater Community School said in a released statement. “These courses are taught by veteran teachers in the district who have experience working with a wide variety of populations, situations, and skill levels. From the first day to the last day, our teachers are cheering on and championing the students to be their best selves in order to achieve success.”

The deadline to enroll is Monday, Oct. 5, and classes start on Monday, Oct. 12. Classes are currently being held online until in-person instruction is permitted, following the district’s reopening criteria. Learn more about the Night Class program online.

For additional information about the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools), visit pvschools.net.

CST Community Spotlight: Music Together in Phoenix

The mission at Music Together is to empower families with the skills, knowledge and experiences they need to foster their children’s innate musicality.

“All children are born musical,” said Kathy Rowe, center director, “but the ability to sing tunefully and move with accurate rhythm needs to be nurtured to be realized. By providing high quality, developmentally appropriate, fun and engaging group family music experiences, we help children discover their inborn music making skills. Music learning supports all learning; so families enjoy the secondary benefits of supporting language, cognitive, physical, social & emotional development…while having fun and bonding together as a family.”

Music Together has been running early childhood music and movement classes in the Valley since 1999; its store front, Kids.Play.Music. at 3241 E. Shea Blvd., Phoenix, opened in the fall of 2003.
Music Together helps children of all ages — from babies to eight years old — discover their inner music-maker by playing with the grownups they love. In a relaxed, family-style environment, teachers lead weekly inspired and energetic classes: singing and dancing to songs ranging from tender lullabies to boisterous jams.

“The no-pressure approach of our mixed-age class lets all little ones learn in their own way,” said Rowe. “Our classes make learning both fun and formative! Playing music with children is so much fun, it’s easy to overlook how much they’re learning. Music Together immerses children in a rich music environment that, in turn supports their overall development!”

She added that their music is also a bit unique, offering diverse songs for all ages (even the grownups), families enjoy a different song collection each season, with professional arrangements of engaging songs in a wide variety of tonalities, meters, and cultural styles. “No annoying nursery rhymes here. Just really great music that the whole family can enjoy jamming to — together!”

The company is currently offering online ZOOM classes and recorded classes (as well as take home songbooks, guides, and a handy app to play the music), so families can continue the music-making at home or on the road.

Families that are interested may schedule a free visit to experience the joy of making music with their children. To RSVP, visit musictogetherinphx.com. For additional information, call 602.363.8202.


Submitted photo

Superintendent’s Message: Dr. Debbi Burdick, Cave Creek Unified School District

Our typical school years start with new school supplies and school clothes, an excitement for students to reconnect with their schoolmates, the opportunity to meet new friends and the anticipation of being in new classrooms with their new teachers. Of course, this year that is not the case. Education in 2020 looks very little like it ever has before and the dilemma of how to meet all the needs of our students, from preschoolers to high schoolers, is the focus. The school supplies are staying home wherever the students do their online work, at least for the start of the year. Reconnecting with classmates most likely will happen virtually, as well as meeting new teachers and participation in clubs. Open Houses and Curriculum nights will be online. Teachers may be teaching from their empty classrooms or from their homes with the challenge of how to bring a group of students together as a functioning classroom team while they only see each other on a screen.

The purpose of school is not only to teach the required curriculum and academics, but ultimately to also to prepare our students to be good citizens. Schools do that by multiple valuable experiences within classroom groups — with sharing, teamwork and social interactions provided at lunchtime and recess for our youngest students, and lunchtime, clubs and athletics for our older students. This is a critical piece of school interactions, but educators are masters at doing what is best for their students and they will creatively and skillfully bring their online classrooms together as functioning and supportive teams.

Our schools know that the social-emotional well-being of our students is critical. Sadly, we have heard from so many parents that their children miss school so much that they are depressed, withdrawn and frightened as the pandemic continues. Our public schools have effective resources and supports for these students — parents should not delay and call their local schools to speak to a counselor or social worker for support for their children. Schools also know of community resources for the family as a whole. Use your local schools as a resource during these difficult times as a bridge to when we are all able to finally physically return to school safely, and life goes back to “normal.”

Resources to Know:

Foothills Foodbank: Food and other family assistance programs

CCUSD counselors: Local counseling resources for individuals or families

Neighbors in Need: Counseling resources

FindHelpPhoenix: Lists free or almost free services in Maricopa County


This column appeared in the September issue of CITYSunTimes. To contact Dr. Burdick, call 480.575.2000. For details on the Cave Creek Unified School District, visit ccusd93.org.

Arizona Science Center Launches Innovative Learning Experiences

Arizona Science Center launched its CONNECT programming in response to growing consumer and educator demand for additional science learning resources. The programs include fun and engaging, standards-based science experiences designed to meet the personalized needs of students and educators.

“Science education has never been more important,” said Chevy Humphrey, The Hazel A. Hare president and CEO, Arizona Science Center. “Arizona Science Center is proud to serve as an indispensable, trusted partner for essential science learning.”

CONNECT will provide school-aged children with well-rounded, science-rich enhancement programs that develop critical thinking skills through immersive activities and live instruction with the Center’s science educators. It will be offered in three learning levels, ranging from supplemental science activities, to interactive lessons, to formal science learning. This program includes yearly goals and lesson plans that are all built to meet or exceed the State of Arizona’s Science Standards.

“The team at the Science Center makes science inspiring,” said Humphrey. “Our goal is to equip students and educators with the resources and skills to tackle real-world problems in a fun and motivating way.”

Through an easy-to-follow road map for science education, the programs make science pertinent to everyday life. It includes a personalized approach, with on-demand one-on-one support from professional coaches who share best practices for online learning.

While the fees vary based on the learning level (ranging from $14.99–$29.99 per month at the “Explore” level), Arizona Science Center says that it is “committed to providing access to exceptional educational experiences in STEM learning, regardless of your ability to pay program fees.” Scholarships are available.

To learn more or to sign up, visit azscience.org/connect.

DreamTeam Academy Offers Virtual & One-on-One Basketball Training for Youth

Pictured: Coach Loren Woods and DreamTeam Academy owner Mimi Sommers; submitted photo

Parents that have a child who loves playing basketball and wants to get some top-notch training from a professional coach have some new options. The DreamTeam Academy in Scottsdale — a state-of-the-art, indoor basketball training facility for kids and teens — is now offering private, one-on-one coaching sessions inside their gym. Due to COVID-19, all group classes have been canceled and now only private, one-on-one individualized coaching sessions are being offered.

For more elite players, ages 13 and up, the company recently added former NBA player, Loren Woods, to their coaching staff. Woods’ professional career spanned from 2001 to 2018. He played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. The 7-foot-one-inch Woods also played college ball for the University of Arizona.

DreamTeam Academy will soon be offering virtual fitness training classes seven days a week. Coach Jevon Estelle — a former basketball player for Grand Canyon University who trained under Dan Majerle — has created an excellent workout program for kids of all ages that includes cardio, agility and strength training from the privacy and safety of children’s own homes. Coach Von has designed the program so that kids can use everyday props from home. No special equipment is needed. Reservations for the 30-minute virtual classes are required and classes must be prepaid in order to receive the Zoom invitation. Cost is $10 per child with a credit card. The classes will also be recorded and archived so if participants prepaid and missed the class, it can be emailed to them.

To register, email mimi@dreamteamacademy.com. For more information, call 480.382.9553 or visit dreamteamacademy.com.


Updated: August 20, 2020 @ 11:25:54

Arizona Sunrays: Helping Families Find Balance

The Arizona Sunrays kicked off its Balance Program Aug. 3. The program is geared toward assisting parents with student care needs during the school year, and runs Monday through Friday, 7:30am–5:30pm for grades K–10.

The company says that the program will run for as long as needed to accommodate families while virtual school learning is taking place, adding, “Sunrays is here to foster social interaction with peers, help facilitate time for virtual learning and provide organized activities for your student. Our main goal is to help families find balance!”

Arizona Sunrays have two Phoenix locations: 15801 N. 32nd St. and 3923 E. Indian School Road.

For more information about the Balance Program, email michelle@arizonasunrays.com. For additional information, visit arizonasunrays.com.

Piano Keys to Music Studio: A Pathway to Creative Potential

Valerie Thomas

While so many are spending so much time at home, Piano Keys to Music Studio owner/instructor Valerie Thomas invites Valley residents to “Emerge from these times with music at your fingertips.” The versatile music program offers online and in-house (when safe to do so) private lessons in the North Valley.

Thomas continues, “As you open your way back into life, you will have learned to play piano. I offer a pathway to the piano and your potential. Everything is customized to fit student interest and learning style. You’ll play songs you love and songs to grow on to spark imagination, strengthen focus, and mastery. You’ll receive encouragement and coaching that invigorates you and helps effective development.”

All ages are welcome at Piano Keys to Music. Thomas says that how students learn is what makes the difference. Instruction moves at each individual’s pace and recognizes the different places from which they approach the instruction.

Thomas shared that one newly widowed student said that, as they came out of a difficult time, the instruction gave them focus, hope and confidence. Another student, 10-year-old Ben, said, “I’m recording and making my own music here. I have a copyright!”

The educator says that she combines her music degree and talents as a pianist to provide a musical education and encourage student’s passions for playing. She has been giving private piano lessons in her studio for over 30 years.

“Not only teaching, but producing shows for students to perform in. Creatively writing, directing and coaching for performance ready. Putting students into duets and ensembles so they can learn to work and support each other.”

She does this by bringing “creativity and innovation to the lesson process by using a variety of techniques to help students understand music and develop the skills needed.”

As Thomas adapted to the ever-changing landscape of a challenging year by creating online lessons for students, so did the students.

“I’m very proud of the way the children and adult students have rallied to keep up with lessons; they manage surprisingly well, but we all feel the difference in not being able to work in person…the little things.”

While learning and performance will eventually return to some sense of normalcy, Thomas says that, in the meantime, she will continue to help her students grow to reach their potential through lessons with a “sense of humor and surprise sprinkled in.”

“I do not emphasize an unrealistic state of perfection, but instead support improvement and being your best.“

For more information about Piano Keys to Music, call 602.971.0089, follow the company on Facebook or visit pianokeystomusic.com. |CST


Photo by Pixabay

SCC Online Learning Center Helps Students Get the Most Out of Instruction

Students at most education levels these days — whether K–12 or higher education — are taking part of their required coursework through online instruction. Some excel in this learning environment, and others have never experienced it before or may have reservations.

Responding to the needs of students and the broader community, Scottsdale Community College (SCC) launched the Online Learning Center featuring extensive information, how-to guides, assessments, video resources and more – designed to help students of all levels of experience with online learning improve their potential for success and overall academic outcomes.

“This Fall, most students will be receiving at least some, if not all, of their instruction online,” said Chris Haines, SCC’s interim president. “The new Online Learning Center leverages SCC’s 20 years of success in delivering robust, online higher education to help make the transition to remote learning easier.”

Visitors to the Online Learning Center can access resources on how to be a successful online student, take a short survey assessing their readiness for online learning, discover how to use online learning technology (video and more), tour an actual online course at SCC, learn about SCC’s online low-cost or no-cost textbook options, connect with extensive free tutoring services, and review online course delivery methods to determine the best fit.

Today, SCC offers 37 degree and certificate of completion programs available entirely for remote learning — and that’s in addition to many other courses being available online. View SCC’s entire online program list: scottsdalecc.edu/students/elearning. To ensure greater student success in the distance-learning format, the College is making many student support services available online as well, including tutoring, library/research, advising, options for testing and counseling. Students who are new to online learning can take advantage of extensive training and assistance.

SCC has been providing online learning for more than 20 years and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer online programs, and was recognized in 2020 for excellence in its online education programs, by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.

Visit the SCC Online Learning Center for complete details: scottsdalecc.edu/olc.


Photo: Julia M Cameron; Pexels.com

Superintendent’s Message: Dr. Scott A. Menzel, Scottsdale Unified School District

Dr. Scott A. Menzel
Superintendent, SUSD

Greetings, CITYSunTimes Readers,

As Scottsdale Unified School District’s new superintendent, I am pleased to make your acquaintance through this publication! Although my contract officially began on July 1, I have been involved in the work of the district since my hiring by the SUSD Governing Board in March. My thanks and appreciation go to former superintendent Dr. John Kriekard for his work during this transition period.

My vision for the future of SUSD is one that will propel the district toward the academic excellence and exceptional student achievement that define a world-class school district. Our expectations should be nothing less. I look forward to collaborating with the Governing Board and district staff to launch new initiatives that draw from my experience in community engagement; diversity, equity and inclusion; strategic planning, and fiscal management. To read more about my background, go to susd.org/superintendent.

A supportive community and engaged parents are essential ingredients in any successful education system and make a huge difference to a superintendent. The fact that SUSD can lay claim to both already has and will continue to result in exciting, new opportunities for our students, and we can do even more in our work together.

In order to strengthen two-way communication and ensure we are hearing from diverse perspectives within the district, it is my intention to expand the platforms through which the district seeks stakeholder input. To understand what the community’s hopes and aspirations are for SUSD, new tools will permit deeper dialogues to take place and enable priorities with the widest community support to become clear. This clarity of vision, backed by research-based plans and accountability for implementation, will lead to SUSD’s long-term success.

I eagerly anticipate getting to know you better and have appreciated my engagements to-date with such esteemed organizations as the Scottsdale Education Association, the Scottsdale Parent Council, the Student Advisory Board and the Scottsdale Charros. Likewise, seeking the insight of our outstanding school and department administrators, our caring cadre of teachers with their rich classroom connectedness to students and all of the district’s dedicated employees will be key in helping blaze our trail forward. All contribute to the success of SUSD’s 23,000 students, now and in the future.

Planning for the 2020–21 school year has been our focus this summer. Anticipating, weeks and months ahead of time, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our state and district at the time we re-open has been challenging. With the safety of students and staff as our number one priority, we have considered multiple options, including a return to in-person schooling with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols, hybrid options with a combination of in-person and online instruction, and 100 percent online education for those who need it. The choices offered provide the flexibility to accommodate each SUSD family’s unique needs; however, if at any time we see an increase in the spread of coronavirus through our community or we do not feel that safety standards are being maintained, we are prepared to modify our plans and take appropriate action. You can review the plans at susd.org/reopen.

As we become better acquainted, it is my hope that you will find me to be a transparent and collaborative leader. I have high expectations of myself and of those who work with me in service to children and families. I look forward to the challenge of leading SUSD and believe that together, we can accomplish amazing things for students.


To learn more about Scottsdale Unified School District, visit susd.org.


Photo: Pixabay

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