BACK TO SCHOOL AT TEMPE ELEMENTARY: Gifted learning program opening at Arredondo

The Tempe Elementary School District launches ASPIRE Academy at Arredondo, a self-contained fourth-grade classroom that provides new learning options for gifted students, for the 2022-23 school year.

ASPIRE Academy at Arredondo, a new learning option for gifted students, will open with a self-contained fourth-grade classroom for the 2022-23 school year, according to Tempe Elementary School District officials.

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“It’s definitely a program we’re proud to grow and promote,” said Mike Minghine, Tempe Elementary District assistant superintendent of administrative services. “We’ll start with a new fourth-grade classroom this school year, and then look at it and assess how we want to continue to provide those educational pathways that meet the needs of our very diverse student population.”

Mike Minghine (left), Tempe Elementary District assistant superintendent of administrative services, calls the new gifted program at Arredondo “definitely a program we’re proud to grow and promote.”

In addition, Tempe Elementary will expand talent-development opportunities in all schools to increase identification of students who qualify for gifted services, including underrepresented populations.

“We are passionate about being able to meet learners where they are at and challenge them to meet their full potential,” said Tracy Harvester, the district’s executive director of teaching and learning.

“Adding this program and expanding our gifted services is exciting because it will enable us to better serve our students and families.”

The National Association for Gifted Children states that gifted students, who exist in every demographic, require modifications to their educational experience to learn and realize their potential. Being able to offer a gifted program with trained gifted teachers provides another opportunity to support learners and meet their educational needs.

Since 1976, Tempe Elementary has provided award-winning programs for ongoing discovery, enrichment and accelerated-learning opportunities for gifted students.

About 1,300 students districtwide will be served by Tempe Elementary’s gifted programs.

This school year, 1,300 students are served by Tempe Elementary’s gifted services.

“The gifted program in Tempe provided the opportunity for my children to grow academically, socially and emotionally with experienced and caring teachers guiding them along the way,” said Tempe Elementary parent Spice Lussier. “The gifted program allowed my kids to develop a love of learning, the value of curiosity and the confidence to pursue their passions. Our family is forever grateful.”

This expansion of gifted services can provide an educational pathway for gifted learners from elementary school, through middle school at Tempe Elementary’s nationally recognized ASPIRE Academy at Connolly and even high school.

Students enrolled in ASPIRE Academy at Arredondo will take part in project-based learning, community-based project partnerships, collaboration with like-minded peers, art activities embedded into the curriculum and social and emotional skill development, as well as diverse extracurricular opportunities available to all students at Arredondo Elementary.

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Pay raises help fill teaching roster

Minghine anticipates that all teaching vacancies will be filled by the start of the school year.

“That is tied to student  enrollment, of course,” he said. “Our practice is to look at our enrollment and address any staffing needs based on enrollment. But we’re looking pretty good right now.”

Teacher recruiting, Minghine says, no long is just a seasonal effort.

“We recruit throughout the year,” he said. “People can go to our website, We’re always looking for good people.”

Ten percent pay raises, that get teachers to the $50,000 mark, no doubt aided recruitment, he acknowledged.

“I’ll tell you right now, I was grinning ear to ear when we were able to share that publicly, that our board had approved a 10 percent increase to our staff –10 percent for all staff throughout the district, not just teachers,” Minghine said. “I’m really proud of our district for the commitment and the equity of the 10 percent for all staff. Everyone was able to benefit. Coming out of the last couple of years (during COVID-19), that put a lot of wind into people. That just does wonders for morale and helps the retention process.”




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