Estes Elementary earns state’s top grade

Estes Elementary Principal Nancy Paddock and Marana Unified School District Superintendent Doug Wilson accept the A+ School of Excellence award.

Hannah McLeod/Marana News

Giving recognition to the school’s overall excellence, the Arizona Educational Foundation presented Estes Elementary School with the A+ School of Excellence Award on May 8. 

School Principal Nancy Paddock accepted the award.

“It’s the first time that Estes has received the award. For us, it’s especially meaningful because until this year we have been a Title I school. It means a lot to be recognized for the excellence in our school and programs,” said Paddock.

The A+ School of Excellence Award is yearly given to 34 schools throughout Arizona. The award highlights schools that have excelled in academic curriculum, extra- curricular activities, leadership, student achievement, moral cohesiveness, support, cleanliness of the school campus and more.

“It’s recognizing excellence across the board,” said Mandy Kalish, assistant director of the Arizona Educational Foundation. “It’s not only for schools that are maintaining high standards but for those who continue to improve.”

Schools go through a lengthy process to apply for the award. If accepted, the school is given a $500 prize and partial scholarships to Argosy University for all staff members. Twenty percent of the scholarships go towards teachers who want to pursue a master’s degree while 15 percent go toward undergraduate or doctoral degrees. Also included is the opportunity for the school principal to meet with other A+ recipients in the state.

“It’s a good time to share what works and to steal ideas from other A+ schools,” said Kalish. “It’s also good for them to be involved in a network of high-achieving schools.”

For Paddock, who has been the principal of Estes for the last 8 years, continuous improvement and a welcoming atmosphere have attributed to a growing elementary school. This year, Estes Elementary has about 900 students.

“The environment and culture of the school stand out and that it’s welcoming to the students. We have a diverse population because we’ve had fast growth,” said Paddock. “The parents feel a part of the school community and we’ve done a lot of professional development for the teachers.”

Receiving the award has not only been a proud moment for Paddock, but for the entire school faculty, students and families.

“They are all very proud of the school and the community and the commitment,” said Paddock.

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