Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School and Mountain Pointe High School recently were accredited as an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation.

Akimel and Mountain Pointe are the only two schools in Ahwatukee to receive an A+ rating for this school year.

Mountain Pointe was recognized as an A+ school during the 2009-10 school year.

The Arizona Education Foundation reviewed each application a school submitted to be accredited an A+ rating, and sent five educators to visit the schools to speak to students, teachers and staff; witness firsthand what types of innovative programs the schools offered; and experienced the overall environment the schools offered to students and families.

Bruce Kipper, principal at Mountain Pointe, said that he and his staff wanted to apply for the award because it was, “the most prestigious award that a school can get.”

“It’s awarded by other educators and not just looking at high test scores… it’s a group of educators who come and take a detailed look at the school and see what we are doing,” he said. “We consider it the most prestigious award you can get because it’s other educators recognizing us.” Some of the academies Mountain Pointe highlighted in its application was business, family and culinary academy; health and wellness academy; and its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics academy.

“What they do is they tailor a kid’s education to their personal interest,” Kipper said.

The academies also gear toward students being more connected to school by getting them interested in their core classes such as math, reading and science, he said.

“It just really affirms what our staff is doing. A lot of times as a teacher you don’t get to see the results of your work… this really affirms to our staff that what we are doing is working, well for our kids and producing good results,” Kipper said.

Superintendent of Tempe Union High School District, Dr. Kenneth Baca, said that he was very proud of the fact Mountain Pointe received the A+ School of Excellence award.

“I am very proud of the Mountain Pointe High School learning community... This is their second A+ award in five years,” he said. “The judging panel saw clear evidence that the teachers and staff at Mountain Pointe are dedicated to students and to their overall success. The Pride exemplifies ‘Excellence in Teaching and Learning’ the mission of the Tempe Union High School District, each and everyday.”

Akimel staff was also excited about receiving an A+ accreditation for the first time.

Principal Mike Deignan said educators from the Arizona Education Foundation visited Akimel and gathered information pertaining to the school’s academics, participation, the middle school experience and engagement.

“The purpose of the award is to honor best practices and the schools that are doing really good in the state of Arizona, and we feel we are one of those,” he said. “We wanted to show the community, show Ahwatukee and Arizona that we are in that caliber of schools.”

The judges, who were educators who had won the award at their schools in past years, visited Akimel for two days.

“The process really brought our staff and community together,” Deignan said. “I think there is excitement around our community, but also relief because I really felt that deep down we deserved this honor. It’s a pretty solid educational system we have here in Ahwatukee and we are lucky to be here.”

Debbie Wilkinson, assistant principal, was one of the faculty members who assisted with the application process by gathering information and compiling it into an extensive document to be reviewed.

“We knew as soon as we got them here we would win them over because it’s a great staff, a great community, and a school,” she said.

Akimel will be celebrating being an A+ school by hosting an assembly on Tuesday, May 6 at 9:30 a.m.

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