The Tempe Union High School District, which includes Marcos de Niza and Corona del Sol high schools in South Tempe and West Chandler, has met the challenges of teacher hiring and expects to open the new school year fully staffed, district officials say.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” said Megan Sterling, TUHSD executive director of community relations.
Sterling said the district anticipates enrollment being level to slightly lower than a year ago, “but a lot of that shakes out in the first few weeks of school, so time will tell.”
Sterling acknowledged that recruiting teachers remains a challenge.
“It’s not like there’s a huge pipeline of people waiting to get into education, and we’re seeing that across the Valley,” she said. “Two-and-a-half years of COVID stressors along with people thinking they might want to go try something different have created challenges in hiring and retention.
“We offered recruitment stipends this year to all incoming teachers. It’s been very positive. On the whole, we feel lucky to be where we’re at. This will be one of largest groups of new teachers in memory, about 135.”
Teachers are not the only ones getting raises. All employees in every category will see an increase.
“There is excitement in the air. I’m seeing teachers planning like I’ve never seen them planning before,” said Sean McDonald, TUHSD assistant superintendent of district operations.”
Sterling attributes that to the lifting of the dark cloud of COVID-19 for the first time in two years.
“Everybody’s excited. Everybody just wants to get back to what they know how to do, whether it’s running a school, or running a classroom or coaching a game,” she said. “The past two years have been so unique for a variety of reasons. We all just want to get back to foundational stuff and do what’s best for the kids.”
CORONA DEL SOL: 2 key leaders join staff
Kim Saad has been named assistant principal of academics and Brian Fleming is new assistant principal of athletics.
Saad returns to TUHSD where she previously served 20 years as a teacher, department chair, assistant principal of activities and assistant principal of academics.
Most recently, Saad has been at Carl Hayden High. She also was an assistant principal in Queen Creek Unified for five years.
Saad earned her bachelor’s from the University of Arizona, master’s in teaching English as a second language and master’s in education leadership from Arizona State.
Fleming, an educator for 27 years, has been a teacher, drop-out coordinator, dean of students, assistant principal of athletics and assistant principal of activities.
He has coached multiple sports, including football, golf, basketball and baseball, has been part of eight state championships and has won more than 300 games as a head varsity basketball coach.
MARCOS DE NIZA: Brent Brown slides into principal’s chair
Brent Brown, who has a long and distinguished career with Tempe Union High School District, returns to his Padres roots as principal at Marcos de Niza High.
Brown joined Tempe Union in August, 1995, as a Spanish teacher and assistant track and field coach at Marcos.
During 16 years at the school, Brown was drop-out prevention coordinator, head track coach, summer-school principal, assistant principal of activities and assistant principal of academics.
Brown was principal at Corona del Sol for five years starting in May, 2011. He then transferred to the TUHSD district office in the Teaching and Learning Department as director of instructional services. In spring, 2020, that position morphed into director of federal programs.
He is from Idaho and earned his bachelor’s from Brigham Young and master’s from University of Phoenix.
Football stadium gets artificial turf
Construction began in May on an artificial-turf surface in the Marcos de Niza football stadium, which also will be used by the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams. The project is part of a district-wide initiative to replace all grass fields with artificial turf, considered safer for student athletes and more environmentally conscious.
The new field is expected to be dedicated in early September.