A plus written with red pen


ave Creek Unified School District’s Black Mountain Elementary School was named one of 44 Arizona public schools receiving the coveted A+ School of Excellence Award.

“The A+ School of Excellence Award shines a spotlight on 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.”

BMES offers its students drama, dance, music and art. Many of these programs are only offered to those lucky enough to afford them, said Principal Matt Owsley. 

“BMES believes that our students are special and deserve the very best,” he said. “We believe we must develop the whole child, through advanced academics and the arts. Our students will be community minded and globally prepared due in large part to these amazing programs that we have built.”

Owsley said it feels great when others, especially administrators from award-winning schools, recognize his school as one of the best in Arizona.  

“We are thrilled to receive the well-deserved distinction that our staff have earned through their hard work and dedication to the advanced educational opportunities and distinguished programs that make BMES what it is,” he said. 

“This prestigious award recognizes the exceptional work by BMES teachers, staff, students, family and community. I am so proud to be a part of something so special.”

AEF has been championing public schools with the A+ School of Excellence Award program since 1983. The A+ Award is a way to identify, celebrate and recognize educational excellence in prekindergarten to 12th-grade schools throughout Arizona. In addition to showcasing outstanding public schools, the A+ program provides school teams with an extensive, comprehensive framework that serves as a basis for school self-assessment and planning. The A+ School of Excellence Award is a powerful energizer for increasing public confidence in recognized schools. A+ schools are celebrated and recognized as exceptional. Schools receive $500 and a banner designating them as an A+ School of Excellence winner.

“We are thrilled to see the amazing school community that BMES has cultivated honored with the prestigious AEF A+ School of Excellence Award,” said Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick. “BMES’ staff, students, PTO and families focus all their energy and resources on students to make their educational experiences supportive and interactive.”