As we welcome our students and staff back for the 2021–22 school year, Scottsdale Unified School District is also marking 125 years of public education in our community.
In August of 1896, Chaplain Winfield Scott and other community members met to discuss the need for a school to educate the children in the community. The district was named Scottsdale in honor of the chaplain, and the first school building served 14 students up to the eighth grade. Over time, the district grew, and our community has voted time and time again to provide the financial resources to ensure that children living in Scottsdale have access to high-quality educational opportunities. We are truly grateful for the ongoing support and investment in the students by our community. If you’d like to learn more about the district’s history, please visit the Scottsdale Historical Society website at https://scottsdalehistory.org/little-red-schoolhouse.
Throughout this school year, SUSD will be celebrating its past while focusing on creating the future. In June, as part of the first phase of our strategic planning process, the Governing Board adopted a vision and mission statement, along with core values, that will guide our work. Our vision is “engaging all students in world-class, future-focused learning” and our mission is to “… inspire, motivate, and empower all to think critically, act collaboratively, and embrace diversity for a life of intellectual exploration, community engagement, and personal growth.” By design, a vision statement is aspirational, and Scottsdale Unified School District is committed to becoming a world-class district, ensuring each student has the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue their goals and become contributing members of our vibrant community. The second phase of the strategic planning process begins this fall, during which we will identify specific goals, action steps, and key performance indicators related to becoming a world-class, future-focused district. For more information on the strategic planning process, please visit the SUSD website: www.susd.org/strategicplan.
Finally, last year presented unique and unprecedented challenges for all school districts as we navigated the COVID pandemic. SUSD provided in-person and online learning opportunities for families as we worked to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment that was responsive to the unique needs of our students, their families, and our staff. While many of us hoped that COVID would be in the rearview mirror this new school year, the recent increase in COVID infections requires the district to continue implementation of layered mitigation strategies in an effort to ensure that no significant spread of COVID occurs while students are at school. Consistent with state law, masks will be optional for students and staff; however, the district is strongly recommending that those who have not been vaccinated wear a mask while indoors. Other mitigation strategies include physical distancing where possible, frequent handwashing, enhanced cleaning protocols and air filtration, and having individuals who are sick remain at home. Like our families, SUSD staff long for a return to school in a “normal” sense. While this year will feel more normal than the start of the last school year, we cannot ignore the reality that the COVID virus is still circulating in our community and that our younger students are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
At a time when many people have strong opinions regarding masks, vaccinations, and appropriate responses to the pandemic, it is my hope that we can come together as a community in support of all Scottsdale Unified School District students to ensure this 125th year of providing education to our students is successful.