Dear Altar Valley Families,
The holiday season really is the perfect time for families to count their blessings. The Altar Valley family is no different; we have much to be grateful for and are very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in our lives. It's not an overstatement to say we have more blessings than we can count, but I do want to mention a few of them.
We welcomed some new members to the family this year. I am very proud of our terrific new teachers and the outstanding job they are doing. Our students are making measurable strides in their classroom performance thanks to all the dedicated educators in our district, veterans and rookies alike.
I am grateful our students are beginning to broaden their horizons in a variety of areas. There has already been one STEM overnight field trip to the UA SkySchool on Mt. Lemmon this year, and we are planning another one in the spring. The second annual Leadership Retreat was a huge success, and the real blessing from the retreat is the positive message of inclusiveness these young leaders are taking to their peers.
Our own house band, One Step Closer, has become our musical ambassadors with their voices and positive energy. Both schools are helping students express their creativity through art. Other than the Leadership Retreat (held in the gym last year), these are all new experiences for our students, but we could not offer any of this if not for the blessing of our friends and supporters.
First, I want to thank our always supportive, always engaged governing board. These five committed individuals have only one goal: to do the very best we can for our students. They are not paid, nor do they sit on this board as a stepping stone to loftier political ambitions. They truly do serve on the Altar Valley School Board. I am grateful to each of them individually and all of them collectively.
We also have so many kind people, organizations, and foundations that believe in our kids as much as we do. One example is Mr. and Mrs. Flowers, a retired couple who moved to Green Valley a few years back. They do not have children or grandchildren in AVSD, and they do not live in AVSD, yet every year they give a tax credit donation of $400, and Mrs. Flowers knits adorable hats that she couples with store-bought scarves and presents them in tidy packages to our Robles students who may need them. This is purely an altruistic act of kindness. Mr. and Mrs. Flowers are a blessing. Many other private parties also generously donate through tax credits or with in-kind donation of clothing, sports equipment and school supplies. I haven’t the space to list everyone here, but each month the board receives a list of donations that we gratefully accepted during the previous month. It is heartwarming.
We have big corporations such as Olive Garden and our own local favorite, Todd’s Restaurant, donating gift certificates to help us honor our employees of the month and to recognize exceptional volunteers. There’s another blessing! Our volunteers are amazing, and we could not function without them. They work selflessly wherever and whenever they are needed. This is a good illustration of what I mean by having so many wonderful blessings.
Trico Electric Co-op, Science Foundation of Arizona, Bombardier, the University of Arizona, Three Points Fire, First Things First, Arizona Lithographers, and Friends of Western Art all have been steadfast supporters of AVSD through grants and donations. Each one is a huge blessing to our district.
Our most important and certainly our favorite blessing is our students. They are why we are here and why we enjoy what we do so much. This time of year is fun and exciting for children. Even as adults, we can easily recall the excitement of December and how we enjoyed the long awaited two-week break from school. Let the kids enjoy this magical time of year, but also spend some quiet time sitting together and reading to your child, or better still, letting your child read to you. Reading is a great way to soothe an overly excited youngster and can be relaxing for harried parents to take a break from the holiday hustle and sit and read with a child for 20 minutes.
A 2013 report by Institute of Education researchers, Dr. Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, shows that reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents' level of education or socio-economic status. This is good data, but at AVSD, our teachers already knew that. Reading is a skill as vital as being technologically savvy to compete in the 21st century. One of my favorite quotes is, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.” That is attributed to Jacqueline Kennedy, an avid reader, writer, and mom. If a woman as busy as a First Lady can find the time to instill the love of reading in her children, I am confident we can all do the same.
Happy holidays to one and all.
Dr. Nathan McCann