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Diamond Canyon earns A+ School of Excellence designation

Elizabeth Medora~ 4/1/2015

ANTHEM – The Diamond Canyon Coyotes have big news to celebrate. The PreK-8 school just received the A+ School of Excellence designation from the Arizona Educational Foundation.

This award recognizes outstanding schools throughout the state. Per the Arizona Education Foundation Web site, the program looks for schools that have a “commitment to excellence, equity, and service” and “sustained high achievement.” Schools applying for the designation must provide information on school programs, achievements, and practices, as well as documentation of parental and community involvement. Five judges visit applying school campuses and personally meet with students, staff, and parents to determine which schools earn the A+ School of Excellence label.

This was the first year Diamond Canyon has applied for the designation. Diamond Canyon joins two other Deer Valley Unified School District schools on the 2014-15 A+ list: Barry Goldwater High School and Desert Sage Elementary.

“I am so ecstatic that we are A+!” exclaimed Diamond Canyon principal Tara LeCount. She was notified from the Arizona Education Foundation, as well as receiving a call from the lead panel judge.

“I jumped up and down!” LeCount said, describing her thrilled reaction to Diamond Canyon’s award. “I was so, so proud to be a Coyote. I’m always proud to be a Coyote, but it made my day extra, extra special to know I was going to tell some of the best educators I’ve ever worked with in my life that they are an A+ staff.”

LeCount called the Diamond Canyon staff “unbelievable quality staff” and noted that they are being “honored for being some of the best staff in the state.”

After receiving notice of the award, LeCount announced it to DC staff in a surprise meeting the following day. The news was kept strictly hush-hush until the big reveal on the afternoon of March 25. Staff greeted the news with cheers. A staff ice cream party was held to honor their hard work. LeCount stood by an on-site ice cream truck, handing out treats, hugs, and good wishes to the Diamond Canyon staff.

The announcement that Diamond Canyon had earned the A+ designation was the culmination of a school year’s work. The in-depth application Diamond Canyon submitted included stories from staff, students, and parents on what they felt makes Diamond Canyon special.

“The application looks at what makes Diamond Canyon extraordinary,” LeCount said. “It looks at all aspects of your school. Our application is about 50 pages long.”

The A+ School of Excellence program considers academic achievement, but it isn’t just based on test scores. It looks at the school as a whole, recognizing schools “for their superior ability to identify and meet the academic and non-academic needs of their student population” (Arizona Education Foundation Web site).

“It was really important for us to tell our DC family story,” LeCount noted. “We collected over 1,200 surveys from parents. We compiled everybody’s story, and we put it on paper, and we brought it to life.”

The A+ School of Excellence designation will last for three years. Diamond Canyon fully plans to reapply after three years are up and will share more of the programs and background that makes the school unique.

“This is a school that is awesome for kids,” LeCount emphasized.

 

Diamond Canyon School will formally celebrate the A+ School of Excellence designation in a celebration in May (exact date to be announced). This celebration will be open to the public, and the community is welcome. Diamond Canyon is also taking open enrollments for next school year. For more information on this, see www.diamondcanyon.dvusd.org or call (623) 445-8000.