A brilliant blue sky and picturesque green-tinted golf course framed a day to remember for teachers in the Amphitheater School District last month.

The teachersthanks to a $25,000 donation from the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation, in partnership with the Stone Canyon Community Foundation—recently received Garmin vivofit 3 activity tracker watches. 

The donation was announced at the Stone Canyon Club in Oro Valley, was the brainchild of Stone Canyon resident and former college professor Clay Blair—whose foundation helped oversee a similar donation for schools in Olathe and Kansas City, Kansas. 

The donation, which was facilitated by the Amphi Foundation—a nonprofit formed in 1983, dedicated to promoting academic excellence within the district, by expanding resources to teachers and students alike—serves many purposes, according to foundation executive director Leah Noreng. 

“This is a gift that directly relates to the foundation’s mission in the sense that when we’re better parents, when we’re better employees, when we’re better teachers, that’s when we’re able to set a good example for our kids,” Noreng said. “When we’re our best selves, we can do better in our jobs and in our families.” 

Garmin Senior Wellbeing Specialist Haley Prophet touched on the importance of health, and in challenging yourself to improve your cardiovascular fitness—feats which wearable technology, like the vivofit 3, accomplish. 

“Our motto at Garmin is ‘Beat Yesterday,’ so you really get to have a device on your arm that’s going to help you do that,” Prophet said. “We want you to live a healthier, more active life every single day and to truly beat yesterday and become more active.” 


A fitting application of fitness

The donation was music to the ears of teachers, like Innovation Academy first grade teacher Ashlee Manley Watson. 

Manley Watson, who was raised in the district, has stuck with Amphi for 11 years—mostly because of its continued investment in district employees. 

“When I graduated from the U of A, I was offered signing bonuses with other districts,” Manley Watson said. “And I turned them all down because I wanted to be in Amphi for this very reason. They have their own ways of getting community outreach to appreciate us and show their gratitude.”

District superintendent Todd Jaeger took a minute in his own speech to touch on the impact that committed teachers, like Manley Watson, have on their students, and how important they are to the community as a whole. 

“It’s hard to be a teacher these days, particularly in Arizona, for one reason or another,” Jaeger said. “I won’t get into all of that, but it is so much appreciated when people in our community take a moment to recognize what teachers do, what they represent as one of the bedrocks of any community, so thank you for this.” 

Manley Watson already is imagining how her pupils will inspire her to continue on with her fitness goals, and vice versa. 

“I work at a STEM school, so I can see this working into a lot of our science and technology lessons,” Manley Watson said. “And the kids can even get involved. And ‘How many steps did you take yesterday, Mrs. Watson?’ ‘How many did you take today?’ So, I feel like it can be kind of a motivator driven by the children.”

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