The first time the feeling of admiration creeps into a young person’s mind --- maybe a parent’s kind gesture or a teacher’s gratification for a job well done --- can be a seed of growth fueling great things to come.
Oftentimes those piques of interest can be pinpointed in hindsight, but all those who become titans of industry, masters of intellect or defenders of American freedom the admiration of another’s sacrifice typically is where the story starts.
And, more inspirational stories often than not begin in public school classrooms.
“Our community’s future is with our children,” said Rick Carpinelli, a developer by trade but Patron of the Scottsdale Charros by choice. “If we fail to provide a quality education for our children, we will fail them and the future of our community. This future is in our hands. The children do not decide the fate of the schools, we do. We owe the best we can do for our children and our community.”
For nearly 60 years the Scottsdale Charros have been instrumental supporters of public education and in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
And, for more than 30 years, The Charro Foundation has supported specifically the men and women of the Scottsdale Unified School District.
The Scottsdale Charros present this commemorative section to celebrate the 34th installment of the Outstanding Students & Educators of the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Charro volunteers, SUSD liaisons and community partners work hand-in-hand to find the best way for the philanthropic outfit to make good on its promise to the Scottsdale community.
“We work closely with school leadership and its teaching community to understand where the Charros can best help our educational community,” Mr. Carpinelli said of the evolving focus of the Scottsdale Charros. “We were surprised to learn at a think-tank roundtable that we held last year that the No. 1 concern for administrators and teachers is the social and mental health of our children.”
--- Rick Carpinelli
Chris Rivera, Charro education chairman this year, says he too was shocked to hear of the tremendous need in the area of the social-emotional health of children expressed by district leaders.
“You know? Thirteen of those students could have been the children of Charros,” he said of learning of suicide-awareness talks held at a local high school where students came forward seeking help.
“I have tremendous respect for educators --- especially those who have left, went to corporate America and then came back.”
Mr. Carpinelli echoes a similar sentiment of newfound information --- and children in need.
“The Charros have committed to help Scottsdale Schools address the social and emotional health of the children in our schools. We are working with the district to identify ways we can help make a difference in this area of social and emotional health,” he said.
“We are finding that the help that is needed will have a significant price tag and needs long-term implementation. It is the goal of the Charros to reach out to the community on behalf of our children and find the financial commitments to address the social and emotional needs of our children in Scottsdale Schools.”
For Mr. Carpinelli, the name of the game is service and providing access to quality public education and, most importantly, maintaining that level of excellence throughout Scottsdale Schools.
“To support our schools to provide the best education to our children so that they can have a quality life and enrich our community,” he explained. “Teachers don’t give up. They come back day after day and fight to educate our children.”
The Annual Outstanding Students & Educators Recognition is a time for teachers and students to be recognized for the great work they have achieved during their time at Scottsdale Schools.
This year’s keystone community supplement, which also honors educators of the Scottsdale Community College, marks the first installment of the Art DeCabooter Educator of the Year award. Also, the Charros salute their burgeoning community partner embodied in Grand Canyon University.
The Scottsdale Charros continue its rich history of supporting public education through programs based within Scottsdale Schools as well as youth programs delivered through community-based 501(c)3 nonprofits.
The Charros support SUSD by investing not only dollars but their time as well. The foundation of the Scottsdale Charros education initiatives is the year-round, hands-on Charro Liaison program.
With information provided directly from the Scottsdale Charros, here is a rundown of each program fueled by local business leaders of the community:
Intended to provide financial assistance in the amount of $10,000 for projects, equipment and programs related to the classroom, athletics or infrastructure that are not funded through traditional funding streams.
Established as a means to encourage SUSD seniors to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education from one of Arizona’s three state universities and, now including, Grand Canyon University. This $20,000 scholarship is awarded to students who can demonstrate outstanding achievement in academic activities, as well as non-academic activities, during their high school years.
The Charros have been proud supporters of Scottsdale Community College since the school’s inception in the 1960s and recently established this $5,000 scholarship for graduates of SUSD high schools who want to pursue an associate's degree at SCC. In addition to the academic scholarships, the Charros have added two athletic scholarships to the top male and female athletes as selected by SCC.
This year the Charros have established a Community STEM Education Grant program and will be awarding up to $50,000 for science, technology, engineering and math educational programs within SUSD.
The iTeachAZ program at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience that more than doubles the amount of time most future teachers spend in the classroom. Seniors in the program spend an entire academic school year student teaching in a pre-K-12 school with mentor teachers. The Scottsdale Charros support this endeavor by providing scholarship funds, matched by ASU, to 10 seniors each year.
This year, the Charros have doubled its investment and will add an additional 10 student teachers who are located at Coronado High School.
The Scottsdale Charros proudly award $500 scholarships to one male and one female athlete during the All City Athletic Awards Banquet, held three times annually. The recipients of the award are selected by the athletic directors from the school district and are based upon the students’ character, academics, community service, and future plans.
The Scottsdale Charros, through The Charro Foundation, provides funding to SUSD high schools to help ensure a safe graduation event for graduating seniors.
Through a partnership with MLBPAA Legends for Youth and the City of Scottsdale, each year 300 deserving students, selected by their principals, arrive by the busload at Scottsdale Stadium to join Major League Baseball greats for lunch and an afternoon on the field. Students learn baseball skills from MLB’s finest, including Hall of Famers, players, and coaches with storied careers.
Fitness clinics are part of the day’s programming and the students, players, coaches and volunteers create a lifelong memory during one incredible afternoon.
Historically, much of Scottsdale Charros’ support has been funding items like books, computers or training programs --- but today, as Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins points out, the needs of students are evolving.
“We have seen the requests from schools move from things to programs and training. In years past, we would get requests for furniture, robotics equipment and Chromebook computers,” he said of first-blush observations gleaned at a roundtable discussion.
“Now we are seeing the need for staff and teacher training in the area of the social and emotional health of the students. This has really been a seismic shift in funding requests.”
Mr. Robbins says he sees both a positive and a negative in that observation.
“I think it says two things: one, the district is adequately funding capital needs in our schools; and two, many of our students are dealing with some difficult emotional issues that teachers see and these issues are harming our students ability to learn,” he explained.
Every year, Charro leaders assemble to come to an understanding of what problems need to be solved with the help both of community and school district support.
“We hold an annual roundtable discussion where we ask ourselves if what we are funding are the correct areas for funding. Are we spending our money appropriately?” Mr. Robbins said of the annual retreat.
“This past year at our roundtable discussion we learned that the capital needs were being funded and the socio-emotional well-being of the students needed more attention. We engaged the district further and we asked a lot of questions. In the end, we knew we needed to act. So, we have made a $45,000 investment in the district to help improve the services that the district is providing our students in the area of socio-emotional well-being.”
--- Dennis Robbins
Those dollars are to help young people cope with the day-to-day stress of living with high expectations, broken homes and the travails of low self-esteem, Mr. Robbins points out.
“We want to improve the overall educational experience of every child within the Scottsdale Unified School District,” he said. “As a community, we have a duty to educate our children. We raise funds to help achieve that goal of their patience.”
Mr. Robbins says he often marvels at the patience of educators.
“It is a very difficult job to be a teacher today,” he said.
“One of the best things we do is to host an Outstanding Students and Educators Awards Banquet every year. Our teachers don’t receive much public recognition. We honor a teacher from every school in the district and we honor 10 high school seniors. This is one way we can celebrate their commitment to our students.”