By Michelle Reese, Higley Public Relations Coordinator

The Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) announced the names of 52 Arizona public schools receiving the coveted A+ School of Excellence™ award this week.

Higley Unified School District’s Gateway Pointe Elementary School in Gilbert received the honor for the first time.

“I am so proud of the work our teachers do, the commitment of our students and the support of our families,” said Principal Dr. Tim Fountain. “Together we have shown that our students are capable of sustained growth and achievement in a school that nurtures not only academic development, but social and emotional health as well.  We are grateful to the Arizona Education Foundation for this recognition and for creating the framework to help us assess how we can continue to grow in the future.”

AEF has identified and honored exemplary pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public schools in Arizona since 1983. 

“The A+ School of Excellence™ program celebrates outstanding schools throughout Arizona, calling attention to the positive stories and successes occurring in public schools,” said AEF Executive Director, Kim Graham. “The application and evaluation process for this program is comprehensive and rigorous. We applaud these schools for exceeding expectations to meet their students’ needs and for achieving overall success despite the many challenges that face the education community statewide.”

Applicant schools are evaluated in the areas of student focus and support, school culture, active teaching and learning, curriculum, leadership, community and parent involvement and assessment data.

Applications are made available to Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools statewide. Evaluation of schools is based on a lengthy written application submitted by the school and a rigorous site visit conducted by a team of trained judges. In the application, each school provides demographic information, a description of current programs and practices, documentation of parent and community involvement, and a profile of the school’s principal and the school community’s commitment to excellence, equity, service and sustained high achievement. Preparation of each school’s application involves collaboration among all stakeholders including students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members.

Schools receive $500 and a banner designating them as an A+ School of Excellence™ winner. The award is valid for three and a half years. Recognition through the A+ School of Excellence™ program can help increase confidence in Arizona’s public schools and create greater parent and community support.

Previously, Higley High, Centennial Elementary and Cortina Elementary have earned the honor in Higley Unified.

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