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Rigorous Academics

Kiva Elementary School redefines education with a whole-child-centered approach, innovative teaching methods, and a commitment to making learning not only rigorous but also enjoyable.

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Mohave District Annex
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Scottsdale Unified School District
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Scottsdale Unified School District



Episode 13 Spotlight Podcast Thumbnail

In this inspiring episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we dive into the extraordinary life of SUSD parent, Minda Dentler, a powerhouse of determination and inspiration. Minda, the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship, shares her incredible journey from an orphanage in India to the global stages of advocacy and athletics. SUSD is proud to have her as a parent and a role model within the community. Tune in to hear Minda discuss her trailblazing path, the impact of her children's book "The Girl Who Figured It Out," and her powerful message of perseverance that challenges us all to redefine identity beyond disability. Join hosts Dr. Menzel and Kristine Harrington for an unforgettable conversation with a woman who lives by example, showing what it means to overcome adversity and achieve the unimaginable.

Read More about The Girl Who Figured It Out: Minda Dentler's Remarkable Journey
Episode 5 Thumbnail - Spotlight Podcast

Across the nation, National Board reviews the practice of accomplished teachers to evaluate whether they represent the values and standards of excellence in education. In SUSD, we have nearly 70 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) across our 29 schools. On this episode of Spotlight, we sit down with NBCT Susan Leonard, an Ingleside Middle School educator and SUSD’S lead trainer for NBCT candidates. We dive into a fun conversation about education excellence and how teachers in 2024 can feel appreciated and recognized for their achievements. 

Read More about Appreciating Teachers & National Board Certification w/Susan Leonard
Annual District Spelling Bee 2024

It was 13-year-old Nina Bhatia who emerged as the champion of the January 19 Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Spelling Bee, spelling the word “indemnity” correctly.

Among the words she also had to spell were “megaron,” “coccidiosis” and “innards.” How did the Cocopah Middle School eighth grade student prepare for the 2024 Bee? “For the easier words, I usually just skimmed over them and made sure I practiced them,” said Bhatia.

“For the harder words, though, we had to kind of associate with the picture and also definitions. It took a really long time for the hard words,” she added.

Bhatia credited her mother with helping her study and shared that she doesn’t plan to change her approach for the Region II Spelling Bee that SUSD will host at Coronado High School on February 9. There, she will be joined by the district bee’s five runners-up:

  • Gabriel Roxas, fifth grade, Hohokam Elementary School
  • Dhruv Bansal, sixth grade, Desert Canyon Middle School
  • Raquel Charlesworth, eighth grade, Mountainside Middle School
  • Jak Boudi, fifth grade, Hopi Elementary School
  • Promise Elhassan, fourth grade, Yavapai Elementary School

Bee winners from the Cave Creek, Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School districts, as well as northeast Valley charter, private and homeschools, will also participate in the Region II Bee. The regional bee winner will head to the March 16 Arizona Spelling Bee at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. The state bee champion will be Arizona’s representative in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee which will be held May 26 – June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland. As for Bhatia, she reads more nonfiction than fiction these days. Her favorite fiction author is J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her favorite Harry Potter character? Gryffindor’s Hermione Granger, but, she added, “I’m a Slytherin.”

A day earlier, SUSD conducted its second middle school Spanish Spelling Bee. Eighth graders swept the top three spots.

Echo Canyon School’s Adrián Fernando Alvarado Padilla out-spelled 16 other students, winning with the word “embarazoso.” Cocopah Middle School’s Matias Lagos Pucllas finished in second place; Ingleside Middle School’s Angel Gomez finished third.

Read More about Annual District Spelling Bee 2024
Early Learning & Community Education w/Dr. Christine Bonow

In this episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we spotlight the amazing early learning opportunities available within the Scottsdale Unified School District. Dr. Christine Bonow, Director of Early Learning & Community Education, and an esteemed SUSD alum, joins us to discuss the array of programs aimed at the youngest learners, from two-year-olds through pre-kindergarten, including gifted programs and the exciting Dual Language Immersion starting in preschool. Let’s have a conversation about nurturing the seeds of education from the earliest stages with a real product of the SUSD system.

Read More about Early Learning & Community Education w/Dr. Christine Bonow


Arizona has always been a destination for adventurers and visionaries. Chief among them, Scottsdale’s founder, Chaplain Winfield Scott. Within a couple of years of arriving in the Valley of the Sun, he quickly realized offering a premiere educational experience was key to providing pioneers a reason to stay in Scottsdale and, with that, the Scottsdale School System was born.