Extraordinary look back

Despite the struggles of COVID-19 this past school year, the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) had one of its best school years for achievements. 

If there was a regional, state or national award given out, DVUSD was probably on the list! If one of the 32,000 DVUSD students, 4,000 staff, or 40 schools were eligible to compete for the award, they had a great chance of bringing home the top honors. Many of the 2020 school year awards can be found at dvusd.org/extraordinary. DVUSD staff update the long list of awards annually and it is not unusual to have 20 pages of successful students, staff, school and/or district acknowledgements.

For example, this past school year, two DVUSD students won the District One Phoenix City Council Young Man & Woman of the Year. There were multiple honors at the state level with six AIA State Championship and four runner-up athletes and teams, 45 Career and Technical Education (CTE) State Championships, and even a U.S. Presidential Scholar. DVUSD students were offered $73 million in scholarships to further their educational, athletic, extra/co-curricular, or life journey, a direct product of performance on academic national tests and student competitions in such groups as CTE, Educators Rising, Junior Achievement, Future Business Leaders of America, Stock Market Game, Academic Decathlon, DECA Inc., athletics, music and the arts.   

DVUSD staff won the Arizona CTE Administrator of the Year and the Arizona CTE New Teacher of the Year, the Arizona Music Educators O.M. Hartsell Excellence in Teaching Award, three Arizona’s Family Silver Apple Teacher Awards, and the Changemaker Award from School Connect.

Three of the 40 DVUSD schools became A+ School of Excellence campuses this past year, joining the list of over 50% of DVUSD schools who have previously received the award. 

DVUSD became a Solution Tree Model Professional Learning Community District, were awarded continued Project Momentum status from the Governor’s office, received the Hot Shot TAPI Vaccination Award, and made the Forbes list of best businesses to work for in Arizona, for the second year in a row. The finance division received the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting and the Association of School Business Officials International Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting. 

Where does DVSUD get this success? 

A supportive community and a commitment to a data-centered and school/community-designed Strategic Plan. Staff, schools and departments align all of their efforts to that plan, enabling students to reach their full potential in a system designed for excellence and focused on continuous improvement. Education is a journey, not a destination. Awards and recognition along the path are a direct reflection of the work, but the journey is the most important part; the awards are just a bonus. 

Dr. Curtis Finch is the superintendent of DVUSD and can be reached at superintendent@dvusd.org