December Newsletter

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ASU Prep Digital’s mission is to design new models for educational success to raise academic achievement for all learners.

Note from Your Director

Dear ASU Prep Digital Students and Families, 

It is hard to believe that we’re just about through our first semester, and we are thrilled to celebrate your success! As a reminder, our semester ends today. Our teachers finalize grades on Dec 16 and 17 before the school will officially recognize Winter Break. All returning students will have access to their Spring courses starting Wednesday, January 5. Spring course assignments and due dates will pace according to a start date of Monday, January 10, giving all our returning students a few extra days to get off to a good start.

Graduation Details:

We are also thrilled to announce that ASU Prep Academy will honor our graduating seniors in person this year! Please save the date for ASU Prep Academy’s 2022 Commencement ceremony, at Desert Financial Arena (ASU’s basketball arena) on Monday, May 23 from 6-8p.m. Desert Financial Arena is located at 600 E Veterans Way, Tempe, AZ 85281. More details will follow!

Dr. Laura Maloney, Director of Academics

Mr. Michael Kasper, M.Ed, Director of Academics

Staff Spotlight

Catherine Moore, Elementary LSC

Catherine Moore is one of our magnificent Elementary LSCs who resides in Chandler, Arizona. Her educational philosophy is that, “Everyone is unique and each person has their own learning style, which is why I love individualized learning plans and using different modalities.” Her students and families have mentioned that they feel supported and as if she is a part of their family.  

Delta Hodges, High School Personal and Family Finance, Fitness Fundamentals and Work Study Teacher

Ms. Delta Hodges teaches Personal and Family Finance, Fitness Fundamentals and Work Study. Ms. Hodges is always advocating for her students and their amazing accomplishments with her courses. She also enjoys sharing resources and collaborating with other teachers, bringing an upbeat, fun and jovial approach to the high school team. Ms. Hodges has a winning smile to go along with her growth mindset, that all students can be successful.  

Irina Ebert, High School Latin and Digital Photography Teacher

Mrs. Irina Ebert (H.S. Latin and Digital Photography Teacher), has served our ASU-Prep Digital students since 2017. Irina is a creative, passionate and student-centered teacher who exemplifies the very best qualities of our faculty. Irina and her husband are very excited to welcome their first child into the world. Several of her students and her colleagues have recently expressed their gratitude for the dedication that Irina shows to her profession!

Meet our Language Team:

Ashlee Bates, Lead Elective Teacher – Spanish

What is the most interesting thing to you in your position and why? I love watching students learn more about their native language as they grow in their proficiency in a second language. They get so excited about it and it motivates them to improve their command of both languages.

When you’re not working, what will we find you doing? When I’m not working, you can find me cooking, on a run, or spending time with my husband and kids.

Cherie Woods, World Languages – Spanish

What do you like most about teaching? I like getting to know my students and learning about their interests so that I can find ways to engage them and make learning more meaningful

What is something interesting about you? I used to live in the Dominican Republic and I love to travel. My favorite trip so far has been glacier trekking and white water rafting in Alaska!

Meet Our Teachers

Kathryn Rivera

Ms. Rivera has a daughter who is 17 and a son who is 12. She lives in Palm Bay, Florida and although this is her first year at ASUPD, Ms. Rivera is a veteran educator. Kathryn Rivera highlighted a Native American student and her family during live lessons. The student dressed in traditional Native American dress and a parent attended to share a Native American song and the history of her people with students in Ms. Rivera’s class. It was a unique and interesting experience. Students had insightful questions to ask of the featured student.

Amanda Thornburg/Kreitz, Art and Science Teacher

Amanda Thornburg/Kreitz teaches Art and Science in our Middle School. Two of her absolute favorite things in teaching at ASUPD are the students and the staff. She explained, “The students are constantly amazing me at how much they want to learn and be involved in their learning process. And the staff has been so supportive and professional in collaborating in order to benefit the students. This has been a wonderful experience as an ASUPD teacher.” Mrs. Thornburg/Kreitz is a commissioned portrait artist and muralist. Another fun fact is that she has been a singer in her very own Rock and Roll Band. The name of her band is “Full Range”. They played professionally in Fort Lauderdale Florida for about 8 years on the beach at an outdoor venue. She also occasionally, when asked, sings at private events.

Emily Riley, Spanish Teacher

Emily Riley is one of our amazing Spanish teachers, and we are thrilled that she has joined our ASU Prep Digital Family.  She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Riley fell in love with learning language at a small salsa club in the city where she discovered the incredible fun of Latin music and culture. When she is not teaching, you can find Ms. Riley reading a few books a week, hiking trails, doing yoga, or searching for the next unique adventure. Prior to 2020, she had traveled to over 20 countries.  But the last two years, she has been working on experiencing the less traveled parts of the United States (Ms. Riley has already set up her digital classroom in six different states since starting with ASU) and has the very adult obsession with seeing every National Park she can. She also loves to cook, but is very thoughtful about my impact on the planet. The more local, the better! 

School Updates

Elementary School

It’s hard to believe that our first semester is wrapping up. As we continue to complete final work and assignments we ask that you join us in reminding our students to push until the end on getting any missing assignments turned in. Please follow your teacher’s playlist and communication on when final assignments are due.

We will not be issuing Specials Grades moving forward in Art, PE, STEM, or Music since they are recommended, not required. Elementary students will continue to receive grades in English-Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Mix-It-Up Art Club

From turkey paintings to Christmas tree sculptures, check out these art projects done by the Mix-It-Up art club students.

Veterans Day Projects

Our 5th graders honored Veterans Day by drawing pictures, creating videos, and writing about what Veteran’s Day means to them. Check out the projects!

Native American Projects

Our 4th graders learned about Native Americans and their different types of dwellings. Check out their recreations here!

Learn more about our Elementary School here:

Middle School

We look forward to celebrating with you as we wrap up our fall semester. Our Middle School students have been working so hard to earn their best grade, demonstrate mastery, and communicate with their teachers and Learning Success Coaches (LSC) to ensure they complete all of their courses on time. 

Our Learning Success Coach team is working with their students to create plans for a strong finish to their semesters; as spring rostering is getting underway, LSCs are reaching out to families to confirm electives and spring courses.

ASU Prep Digital in the Community

Sarah Tworek is a seventh grade NJHS hopeful who is taking community service by storm. Not only did she attend ASU Prep Digital’s Community Service event October 23rd at Palmcroft Clothing Company, but she went around her neighborhood collecting clothes and books for the center. She filled a van full of donations. Students sorted, tagged, and hung items to be distributed to needy families. Sarah wanted to come back to see the center in action, so she returned November 6th when it was opened to serve the community. Sarah is a shining example of the quality of students we have at ASU Prep Digital.

The Spark

The Spark is a production of the ASUPD Sparky Broadcasting Club. It is a student-created video series made to bring some ASU entertainment and information into ASUPD and student lives. Check back regularly for new episodes! We strive to produce one episode every week. You can view The Spark here!

Learn more about our Middle School program here: 

High School

The fall term is wrapping up quickly. We are excited for the success of each and everyone of our high school students. We know that the end of the term can bring some anxiety to students and families, but our entire high school staff has a plan in place to support each student to the finish line. Please encourage your students to connect with their teachers, LSCs or anyone on our instructional team for support. We will pace out the final assignments and help to prepare them for the final exams/projects. It takes a village!

Learn more about our High School here: 

Social Media Club Openings

The ASU Prep Digital Social Media Club has openings. Students will have the opportunity to gain knowledge of social media channels, strategy as well as leadership, collaboration, and communication skills. Students will have the opportunity to apply their skills in real-world situations and internship opportunities. Join now!

Holiday Assistance

To help make the holidays brighter, there are organizations in Phoenix and the surrounding area that are providing families with toys, free Christmas gifts, food and meals during the upcoming holiday season. Learn how you can help.

Meet Benji, Your Digital FAFSA Assistant

As part of our college prep culture, we ask that all graduating Seniors complete the FAFSA, which stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” Would your family be willing to help us with this important college-going point of pride for us? Our goal is to have 100% participation no matter what the student’s choice is after graduation. Need help with your FAFSA? We’ve got you covered! Ask Benji your questions by texting 602-786-8171. @benjifafsa is your digital FAFSA assistant and will quickly respond with answers. Submitting FAFSA is the first and most important step to making college more affordable. Many universities and colleges require a completed FAFSA on file to be considered for merit based scholarships.

ASU Prep Digital Blog

Supporting Students Who are Staying Digital

With a new semester right around the corner, many families may be reconsidering their children’s learning environment, specifically when and if they should send their kids back to a brick-and-mortar school. While many of us expected to be fully back to face-to-face learning at this point, the reality is families may not feel ready for the return, whether due to uncertainty regarding COVID-19 variants, newly established routines, or even a preference for distance learning. How should your school prepare for this “new normal”? Here’s our recommendation for the most impactful actions your school can take to establish best practices and maximize support for your virtual students and families. Read more.

ASU Prep Digital Ranked #1 Best Online K–12 School in Arizona

According to Niche, the market leader in connecting colleges and schools with students and families, ASU Prep Digital is the #1 Best Online School in Arizona. Read more.

10-Year-Old Kenji Hennesy is an 8th Grader at ASU Prep Digital

Kenji joined ASU Prep Digital’s online K-12 program last year after his grandfather sadly passed away from Coronavirus. He and his family decided to transition from in-person schooling to an online setting where he could feel safer during and after the pandemic. Read more.

Making Moves in Middle School

Middle school is a time of change, both physical and intellectual, where everyone’s timeline for growth and maturity varies widely. Changing schools during this time can be especially challenging for those reasons, but for some 6th, 7th and 8th graders, it’s essential. Read more.

Lessons Learned: How schools can come back stronger than ever post-pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly everything about education. And while it’s easy to focus on the negatives, we’d like to acknowledge something different—the silver lining. The pandemic offered a disruption education may not have been ready for, but in many ways needed. It ushered in a fundamental shift in thinking, making way for innovation, better relationships, and a renewed appreciation for the valuable services schools provide within their communities. During this season of gratitude, we’d like to give thanks for these lessons learned and examine how educational leaders can use this information to help schools emerge stronger in the post-pandemic world. Read more.

State Standardized Testing Updates

AASA Writing Field Test

January 25, 2022 through February 15, 2022

All Arizona, full-time students are required to participate in annual in-person state assessments in a variety of subject areas.  The very first state exam we have coming up is the AASA (formerly AzM2) Writing Field Test. The purpose of this test is to pilot new types of writing prompts and editing tasks with the goal of improving the current writing exam. This exam is for all of our Arizona, full-time students in grades 3-8, and is one single writing exam that is completed in one testing session. We will be offering multiple testing sites throughout the state in order to make testing accessible to all students and families. Look for further e-mail communication about specific dates and testing locations as the testing window gets closer.

January 25 – 28 – Greater Phoenix (including Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale, Peoria, San Tan, Maricopa, etc.)

February 1 – 4 – Northern Arizona (Sedona, Flagstaff, Kayenta, Kingman, Lake Havasu, etc.)

February 8 – 11- Southern Arizona (Tucson, Douglas, Yuma, Nogales, Benson, etc.)

Spring State Testing

April 4, 2022 through April 29, 2022

This year, the required in-person state testing looks a little different at each grade level.  See below for a brief overview of the assessments our Arizona, full-time students will participate in, by grade:

  • Grades 3 and 4 – AASA Writing, Reading, and Math
  • Grade 5 – AASA Writing, Reading, and Math; plus AzSci
  • Grades 6 and 7 – AASA Writing, Reading, and Math
  • Grade 8 – AASA Writing, Reading, and Math; plus AzSci
  • Grade 9 – ACT Aspire
  • Grade 11 – ACT with Writing; plus AzSci
  • Grades 10 and 12 – No state testing

Keep an eye on the monthly newsletter and look for further e-mail communication about specific dates and testing locations as the testing window gets closer. 

Calling all Juniors and Seniors: Register NOW for the SAT and ACT

Calling all upperclassmen! It’s time to register for the SAT and ACT. We recommend you taking the exam in the spring of your junior year and again by fall of your senior year. Please visit the links below to register. Bear in mind that there are strict registration deadlines (typically a month before the test), so please register early! Note: Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch should contact their LSC to receive a fee waiver for their exams. ASU Prep Digital’s CEEB Code is 030175.

SAT Registration: 

ACT Registration:

A Note from College Board (SAT): Search here to find out if your test center will be closed on an upcoming test date and if it is offering a makeup test day. Remember, test centers may close or make changes on short notice, including on test day, and they may even close for the scheduled makeup date. Test center data is updated every three hours, so be sure to search any closings the night before and morning of your scheduled test. Only fully closed test centers will show in the search results. Find COVID-specific updates regarding the SAT here.

All Arizona residents who are enrolled as full-time 11th grade students for the 2021-2022 school year will be required to take the ACT with Writing as part of the state assessment series.  Students in this category will automatically be registered for the ACT spring test administration (in April) by ASU Prep Digital, free of charge.  More information on this spring ACT test administration will be available soon.

Academic Support

Academic Enrichment Programs 

When student curiosity is ignited, their learning knows no bounds. Our selection of academic enrichment programs let students join small groups that dive deep into learning areas of their choice, advancing their subject knowledge, building their confidence, and increasing their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. 


  • Our teachers and LSCs have been offering additional 1:1 support sessions; they often create extra opportunities for social engagement, provide executive functioning support, bring in special speakers and host engaging events to help kids feel like part of the ASU community and build ASU Affinity.
  • Our teachers and LSCs also create true, personalized learning opportunities for students who are struggling or behind pace. Attending these optional sessions have shown great success for the students who take advantage of the opportunities.


  • Teachers are offering special help sessions and encouraging students to join in on open sessions, extended tutoring sessions, and/or office hours (check your course announcements). 
  • Check out the resources in your course announcement pages for study guides or recordings to help finish the semester strong!
  • LSCs are working hard with their students to put plans in place to finish their semesters strong, and as spring rostering is getting underway, LSCs are reaching out to families to confirm electives and spring courses


  • Our teachers have begun offering review sessions for course finals!  These sessions provide opportunities for students to re-examine concepts from the beginning of the course, ask questions, get clarification, and prepare for their course semester exams.
  • Throughout the semester our teachers have had guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds to give our students a deeper or complementary understanding of the concepts in their courses.  Check out your teachers’ homepages to watch the recordings of these special sessions!
  • High School teachers are working hard to ensure all students can get both of their “Mandatory” Discussion Based Assessments done before the end of the fall term (Dec 15th). These discussions are simple, stress free opportunities for our students to share what they have learned and to celebrate their academic achievements! 

Socialize and Accelerate Learning 

We’re building a supportive academic culture that lets students connect with others who share their passions and academic interests. Not only does this make learning more fun, but it allows students to encourage each other on their learning journeys. 

Learn more about our Academic Support Program offerings here.

Get Connected With ASU

Sun Devil Generations: Winter Fun with Sparky

Get into a festive spirit at the Sun Devil Generations’ Winter Fun with Sparky event! Sun Devil families of all ages are invited to take a family photo with Sparky outside Old Main. After your photo, come inside for hot cocoa and cookies, winter crafts and stories being read by ASU students. Move around at your own pace, with activities running concurrently throughout Old Main. Be sure to keep the fun going by adding on a take-home cookie decorating kit! Registrations are $10 for non-members and free for current Sun Devil Generations members. Secure your spot and register today!

ASU Family Virtual Yoga

Invite healthy fun into your home. Tune in for free Zoom yoga classes designed with young yogis in mind. Classes will be easy to follow for all ages and cover concepts like healthy stretching and mindful breathing. No materials are needed to participate, but comfortable clothing and a yoga mat are recommended. Yoga instruction will last 45 minutes. Register now!

Immersion Health and Safety Updates

Face Coverings

Face coverings are strongly recommended for everyone who is in a building on any ASU Prep campus. Please strongly consider having your child wear a mask in school. We have also strongly recommended this for our teachers and staff.

Face coverings work to reduce transmission of the virus and the CDC recommends that people wear face covers in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status in areas of substantial or high transmission of the virus. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ has endorsed this recommendation and has urged the public to follow suit.

Keep all students who are sick at home.

This also applies to students sick without a fever as the COVID-19 virus does not always induce a fever. Please also notify the health office when your student is out sick. 

Keep in mind guidelines regarding frequent hand washing, social distancing, minimizing contact with those not in your household, etc. We encourage students to wash their hands as soon as they get home from school and take any other precautions your family deems necessary, such as a clothing change.

The vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19 in reducing serious illness, hospitalization and the spread of the virus. ASU strongly recommends getting the vaccine for our teachers, staff, and students (if your student is old enough). Reach out to your provider for more information.

Eat healthy, exercise, get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water, etc. to help your immune system.

COVID Mitigation and Quarantine Procedures

  • Daily cleaning protocols will continue and staff will leave items used in the classroom out for mist cleaning.
  • Common school areas will be open (lunchrooms, libraries, etc.) and will be cleaned using daily cleaning protocols.
  • Hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing will be available and encouraged.
  • Drinking fountains can be used and are included in daily cleaning.
  • Shared objects in the classroom can be used and are cleaned nightly.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained when feasible, with students to have 3 feet between them.

Quarantine procedures will be followed:

  • Contact tracing will be done by a nurse.
  • Students will be sent home if identified as a close contact
  • Close contacts are determined through the information we gather during contact tracing, as well as consulting with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health
  • Students who are asymptomatic can test on Day 5 or after and with a negative test and no symptoms may return to school.

Family Communication

  • If your student has been identified as a close contact of someone who is COVID-19 positive, you will be notified. We do not notify students who were not in close contact. 

End of Year Giving

Do you support nonprofits through end of year giving? When you donate to ASU Prep, your gift impacts the children at our schools. You can dedicate your contribution to one of the following areas:

  • Academic Enrichment
  • After School Clubs
  • Innovations
  • Field Experiences
  • Arts and Culture
  • Sports and Athletics
  • General (the school picks)

Additionally, Arizona residents may qualify for a tax credit (up to $200 if filing single, up to $400 if filing jointly) when they donate to ASU Prep. Please consult a tax adviser to discuss your tax credit eligibility or questions.

Check out the 21-22 School Calendar and the 21-22 Parent Handbook for additional resources.
Make sure to #RepThePrep and check out the ASU Prep School store!