Summer + Boot Camp = Thriving Teachers

« Back  |  

Summer is quickly on its way and you may have vacation on your mind. We don’t blame you. But let’s be honest, even while you’re sipping lemonade poolside or escaping the heat inside your local bookstore, you’ll still be thinking about improving your craft. You’ll spot a new book on the shelf and think, “That would make a great read aloud” and then you’re spending hours on the internet searching tie-in activities from science experiments and art projects to multimedia presentations. 

How do we muster that level of excitement for more formal professional development? Here are five tips for making the most of your next professional learning experience.  

  • Find a topic that interests you. Don’t think of professional development as only a box that needs to be checked off your to-do list. Sure, you’ll earn the PD credits, but peruse the catalog for offerings that you’ll enjoy and learn from, whether it’s incorporating more technology, improving project-based assignments, or engaging your students in the classroom.  Ellie Reich, Professional Development Product Manager at ASU Prep Digital reminds us, “Time flies when you are interested and excited to engage.”
  • Set aside dedicated PD time on your calendar. It’s easy to postpone professional development because of busy schedules, so go ahead and mark it on your calendar, making it a priority. Be sure not to double book with other appointments or responsibilities, like child care. Ms. Reich prefers scheduling professional development early in the summer while the positives and negatives of the school year are still fresh on her mind. Her approach is to apply new learnings to class content for the fall so she can then “focus on family and relaxation the rest of summer.”
  • Get comfortable and be present. Determine where you focus and learn best. This could be a coffee shop with your favorite drink or your home office while in pajamas. Relax, tune out distractions, and prepare to be involved. Alison Hernandez, Director of Professional Development & Learning Initiatives at ASU Prep Digital encourages participants to be present by being “proactive and engaged by asking questions, sharing insights, and engaging in discussions during the sessions.”
  • Find a friend. Invite a peer to register for the same course so that you can exchange ideas, enhancing the learning experience. Ms. Hernandez encourages participants to
    “take advantage of the time to connect with other educators and to build meaningful relationships.” Ms. Reich wholeheartedly agrees, adding that working from a coffee shop with a colleague and bouncing off ideas is a winning combination. 
  • Be sure to reflect. After the training has ended, spend some time reflecting while the concepts are fresh in your mind and you’re feeling inspired to implement new ideas. Jot down some notes or text a colleague to keep the momentum, learning, and collaboration going. “Professional development is an ongoing process,” says Ms. Hernandez, “Stay curious and be proactive about seeking new learning opportunities.”

Ready to seek out your next great professional development opportunity? Browse ASU Prep Digital’s Training Calendar for Summer Bootcamp sessions and register today! 


Nurturing Children’s Mental Health

« Back  |  

ASU Prep recognized May 11th as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which highlights the importance of children’s positive mental health as part of their overall development. When children are in good mental health, they will be more successful at home and school, better able to participate and socially engage, learn new things and exhibit good decision-making.

Families can promote good mental health in what they say, how they act, and through the environment they create. Take a look at these suggestions for fostering a supportive environment for children and teens. 

Recognizing Emotions

It’s important for children to be able to recognize their feelings as the first step in processing them. For younger children, this might mean using a mood chart that allows them to identify a graphic depicting their current emotion. This check-in opens up the conversation for them to better share and get support. For older children, a journal with blank pages or guiding prompts is a positive and personal way to process feelings before discussing them.

Create a Safe Setting 

Nurture relationships by spending quality time together talking without judgment. A helpful technique is “High, Low, Buffalo,” in which each family member shares a “high” point from their day, a “low,” and a “buffalo” — a random tidbit. An Internet search for “conversation starters” can also be a fun way to ignite meaningful discussion with older children. 

A safe home environment also means setting boundaries on media use. Monitor use by discouraging screens in the bedrooms when possible to allow you to supervise both content and time spent on a screen, as well as any interactions through social media or online games.

Model & Encourage Healthy Behavior

Don’t be afraid to show kids when you struggle or make a mistake. It’s normal, and as they’re watching, they’re learning valuable coping skills.

Be a role model by taking care of your own mental health—discussing feelings and modeling what it looks like to make time for feel-good activities like reading, exercising or relaxing on the porch. 

Establish routines for the whole family that prioritize a nutritious diet, regular physical activity and plenty of sleep. 

Get Professional Support

Being involved in children’s lives allows us to regularly observe their well-being and track any signs that a child is experiencing changes in their thinking, feelings or behavior, as well as physical changes. 

As children navigate developmental and emotional milestones, continue to show them encouragement. Connect with them, reminding them that you care and are there for support.  

Need help? Call your child’s pediatrician or seek out additional resources, such as:

ASU Prep’s Family Resources — provides a sampling of social services available to our local community

Mikid — Arizona-based organization focusing on behavioral health and wellness with family-centered approach 

Crisis Text Line — offers free help via text message 24/7. Text ‘START’ to 741741 to text with a trained counselor.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — provides 24/7 free, confidential support. Text 988 to connect to a skilled, trained crisis worker. 

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week at ASU Prep

« Back  |  

Thank you to all our hard-working ASU Prep Academy staff and teachers who most definitely deserve extra credit. We recently celebrated these remarkable educators during Teacher Appreciation Week with a little extra recognition and gratitude. 

The school year is quickly coming to an end, so what’s a guaranteed way to make our teachers and staff feel valued while also motivating them to keep up their school spirit? Apparently, it’s food! Together with the ASU Prep Academy network, our wonderful Parent Teacher Organization, local businesses and supportive families across all campuses, we were able to treat our teachers to a special week of goodies. 

Treating Teachers Across All ASU Prep Campuses

Across the network of ASU Prep Academy schools, teachers received gift cards to the ASU Prep store, inspirational videos and messages, as well as a hosted lunch from Honeybaked Ham or Elias the Foodie food truck.

ASU Prep Digital
Because ASU Prep Digital is primarily online, their staff received virtual recognition throughout the week, from special messages from their principals to motivational videos sent from the ASU Prep Digital administration team. 

ASU Prep Phoenix
The Phoenix campus was shown a lot of support (and food!) from the surrounding community with donations from Einstein Bros., Stern Produce, Sugar & Lace Bakery, Potbelly, Frios Gourmet Pops and a delicious charcuterie board assembled by a talented parent.

ASU Prep Polytechnic
The ASU Prep Polytechnic K–6 program was treated to a literary-themed week that included several favorites: books, puns, food, and an opportunity for student involvement. A standout day from the weeklong festivities highlighted the book Dragons Love Tacos with the slogan “Taco ‘bout our nacho average teachers & staff” with a lunchtime taco and nacho bar. Students were also encouraged to bring their teacher a dragon-fire red gift, which brought lots of creativity and smiles. 

ASU Prep South Phoenix 
The South Phoenix high school program told their staff “mahalo” with a Hawaiian-themed week of “tiki-riffic” treats including an ice cream bar, afternoon slushie break, and BBQ lunch from Ono. The elementary program hosted Hollywood week, pampering their staff like celebrities with movie-style popcorn, personalized gifts, a swag bag of surprises, and lunch catered by Federico’s. 

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest
At ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest, each day brought a new treat, like Wake Up Monday (a coffee theme), Toolbox Tuesday (a call for students to bring in school supplies), and Thankful Thursday (thoughtful notes written to teachers and a morning cheer session to start the day). 

ASU Prep Casa Grande
ASU Prep Casa Grande kept their staff happy with food throughout the week, including breakfast, a PTO-sponsored lunch and a midweek treat of delicious cookies donated by Cook-E-Jar.

Thank Our Teachers Anytime

No need to wait until May’s Teacher Appreciation festivities to make teachers feel special. Treat staff all school year long with a snack or school supply bundle. If you know a teacher has a school night event or a pile of essays to grade, help them power through with a $5 gift card to grab a coffee. Remember, a thoughtful email or handwritten note from a guardian or student is easy, free and always makes a major impact. 

Anti-Bullying Tips for a Positive Community

« Back  |  

While many Star Wars fans were busy celebrating “May the Fourth Be With You,” ASU Prep Academy was also recognizing May 4th as Anti-Bullying Day with a focus on digital citizenship. Just as there are powerful alliances formed in the Star Wars franchise, ASU Prep Academy encourages students to come together to support and encourage one another. Here are some anti-bullying tips to foster a positive community. 

Hold That Thought

Getting ready to post that picture with a filter that makes your classmate look like a furry Ewok? Remember not to post photos or videos of others without permission, especially those who are minors. While you think your classmate’s Ewok impression is spot-on, she may not appreciate it going viral. 

And just like we use a filter to enhance photos, let’s do the same for our comments. Filter your thoughts before posting them to make sure they are truthful and kind. Avoid teasing and sarcasm, which don’t usually translate well online. Instead of jokingly commenting on a friend’s post about his new Mandalorian backpack, “You’re such a dork!” try “Love your style!” instead. 

Leave a *Good* Lasting Impression

Everything we do online leaves behind a trail. Everything from social media posts to search history. So make sure the prints you leave behind are good ones you wouldn’t be embarrassed for your teachers, family members or future boss to discover. 

ASU Prep Academy Supports You

ASU Prep does not tolerate bullying, harassing or intimidating others on school grounds, school-sponsored events, or through use of technology. Any reports of such behavior will be investigated and may lead to disciplinary action like a guardian conference, or in serious cases, removal from the school community. 

Connect in a Positive Way

Show your school spirit by posting positive accomplishments like club activities or the triumphant completion of a project. Finally finished your watercolor of Yoda? Post it! When sharing your Sun Devil successes, strengthen our community connection by tagging #RepthePrep and #ASUPrepAcademy. 

Student Spotlight: Jacob Mudry, #1 Goalkeeper

« Back  |  

Jacob Mudry, Goalkeeper, on and off the Field

ASU Prep Digital isn’t exaggerating when they say students can take classes at their own pace from anywhere in the world. Just ask Jacob Mudry, a 16-year-old from Austin, Texas, who completed the school year online from Berlin, Germany.  

Because of ASU Prep Digital’s flexible online coursework, Jacob is able to continue his high school education while also training to become the professional soccer player he hopes to be one day. Jacob was scouted while still in middle school to join the International Soccer Academy, a program that recruits talented North American youth soccer players to train with professional European clubs. Jacob just wrapped up an eight-month adventure with Hertha Berlin’s Integrated academy U17 team made up of fellow 16- and 17-year-old North Americans. 

Grateful for ASU Prep Digital

Jacob compliments his ASU Prep Digital teachers, explaining their support: “The teachers are very compassionate. They are focused on making sure we’re up to date and that we have everything we need. The teachers and my Learning Success Coach are just on top of everything and make sure we have good grades.”

He goes on to say that despite the major time zone difference, “It’s really easy to contact them. They respond very quickly. The teachers are a lot more flexible and make time for us.”

Jacob’s favorite subject is math, and he says even though trigonometry is hard, he still really likes it. He applies that same can-do attitude to life and goal-keeping.  

“The teachers are very compassionate. They are focused on making sure we’re up to date and that we have everything we need.”


An Unexplainable, Indescribable Year

Jacob appreciates the unique experience he’s had playing soccer in Europe, saying, “What I’ve enjoyed most was the difference between U.S. and European soccer. When I came here, it was just basically a whole new method. The teams and the competition are very intense and much tougher than in America. The coaches are great. It’s just overall very indescribable.”

Jacob says he’s learned life lessons through soccer and has grown a lot in the past year. For example, the challenges of dealing with injuries and the heightened pressure of playing goalkeeper: “The fact that sometimes in a game you can make a mistake, a really big mistake that can impact the match. As a goalkeeper, you can make a mistake that can lead to the opponents scoring a goal.” And without his mom there to hug or his dad to talk to, Jacob’s had to figure it out on his own. Jacob explains, “I’m learning, finding myself and just gaining independence and seeing basically what college life is like without going to college. If I can get through a year in Germany this young, I feel like college life will be kind of a breeze to get through.”

When asked if his future plans include college, Jacob explains his primary goal is to sign a contract with a prestigious European soccer club like Bayern Munich.  

What’s Next

Jacob has returned home to Texas for the summer, where he is excited to spend time with his family and friends, and yes, his hometown coaches for more soccer training. He has a built-in practice buddy in his 12-year-old brother, who is also a talented soccer player. 

In the fall, Jacob plans to play once again with the International Soccer Academy, returning to Hertha Berlin for a second year while also continuing another school year with the support of ASU Prep Digital’s online curriculum.

Student Spotlight: Lucas Henseler, Center Back, #7

« Back  |  

Lucas Henseler, ASU Prep Digital Scholar and Soccer Star

ASU Prep Digital student Lucas Henseler is originally from sunny San Diego, California, and enjoyed the advantages of our rigorous online platform to spend his last school year in Berlin, Germany playing for International Soccer Academy‘s Integrated Academy U17 team at the Bundesliga soccer club Hertha Berlin. International Soccer Academy provides elite youth soccer players from all across North America the opportunity to live, train and play soccer in a professional environment.

With the help of ASU Prep Digital’s flexible curriculum, the 16 year old has successfully balanced academic excellence with a burgeoning soccer career. His goal is to gain the training and attention required to play for a European “football” club and this program prepares top players for professional opportunities.

Lucas, #7, is a Center Back on his Hertha Berlin’s academy team and has been an impact player all year. Lucas and his teammates lived at the Berlin Football Association where they complete their respective online school work, eat and sleep between twice-daily soccer training sessions, plus games. 

It Takes Motivation

When asked about balancing his ASU Prep Digital schoolwork, his intense soccer schedule, as well as living in another country away from family, Lucas explains, “In the end, it takes motivation, you got to be willing to put in the work. And for me, I really like to think about my dream of becoming a professional soccer player at the highest level, so I use this to drive me to make sure everything that I do is well organized and in high shape.”

“…I really like to think about my dream of becoming a professional soccer player at the highest level, so I use this to drive me to make sure everything that I do is well organized and in high shape.”

It’s that mentality that motivates Lucas to maintain all A’s even though he admits school is not his favorite. He likes that ASU Prep Digital schoolwork is dispersed throughout the week so that he can complete assignments while also focusing on making his soccer dream a reality. Lucas explains that players are expected to get their school work done during study hall hours in the classroom or during their free time, and that many student athletes like to do so from the comfort of their rooms. Turns out, Lucas’ teammate and roommate Hugh Eaton is also an ASU Prep Digital classmate; they’re in the same English class and both call Southern California home!

Taking it to the Next Level

Lucas’ biggest takeaway from this experience so far has been the opportunity to play an elevated standard of soccer. He emphasizes, “I’ve gotten to experience the level of soccer in Germany and how good you have to be if you want to make it in Europe as a professional. You work harder, way harder, because the level of soccer for a 17 year old in Berlin is way higher than it is in America.”

Despite the cold and cloudy climate, a language barrier, and not-so-great food at the hotel, Lucas is adamant, “No regrets, no mistakes.” He says, “I came here knowing that I needed to get better so I can make my dream come true. That was the purpose and I got that.”

“I came here knowing that I needed to get better so I can make my dream come true. That was the purpose and I got that.”

Lucas will return to Germany in September to join the Integrated Academy team at FC Schalke 04 continuing both his soccer training as well as his education through ASU Prep Digital. For now, he looks forward to heading home for the summer not to rest and chill at the beach, but to reunite with his hometown coaches and trainers to practice and share what he has learned. 

Middle School Student Council Is Now in Session

« Back  |  

Making friends in middle school can sometimes be awkward. Enter the ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council, recently formed to make things a little easier.  

Social studies teacher April Hale saw a need for students to make connections with their peers, so after careful thought and with the support of Principal Toya Abrams, she started the Middle School Student Council. The initial members came from a defunct camaraderie club, which was lucky in that they already shared the similar goal of friendship. Ms. Hale also invited some of her current and former students who she knew to be outgoing and eager to participate.  

Ms. Hale started the initial meetings with songs about friendship and icebreaker activities. She explains, “It’s really important to me that it’s a fun, safe place for students to be themselves. I want the students to share their ideas. I want it to be a safe place to brainstorm.”  

And brainstorm they did. The students spent the first couple meetings determining the Student Council’s mission statement and set of values.

“I want the students’ perspective. It is important to me that the students create their own vision and then find a way to achieve it. The whole purpose is to meet their needs. Student Council is driven by the kids. It is their ideas, their goals, their vision.”

The following is what this group of about twenty-five dynamic students came up with.  

Mission Statement

ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council works to make our school a place where every student feels welcome and included. We encourage students to make friends, help others, and support the school.  Our core values are Learning, Community, Kindness, and Leadership.

What Student Council Members Are Saying 

The involved students are giddy with pride when discussing how successfully the Student Council is meeting these goals so far. 

Elana “Laney” Woodward says that Student Council “includes students in their own government to prepare them for the real world” and supports students fit for leadership roles, giving them confidence. When asked about her own future plans, she happily asserts, “Definitely a leadership role.” 

Zinnelyse “Zinnie” Grey agrees that she too has learned about leadership, especially maintaining balance: “We have to keep the goals of school in mind, introduce our own ideas but also build on others’.” Her experience has inspired her to consider pioneering another new club, one that will attract students with less mainstream interests.  

Hayden Hansen says he has not always participated in class, but this year he’s been turning on his mic and volunteering to read in his online classes, which is why he says Ms. Hale suggested he join Student Council. He feels comfortable participating in Student Council and says, “It might just help me be less shy for big events.”

Katheryn Mantey-King has a unique perspective about Student Council, explaining, “It prepares you for dealing with people who are maybe leading or taking charge, or maybe you can be that person who leads and takes charge.” In either role, working in a group and dealing with conflict helps teach compromise.  

What’s on the Agenda

Sponsor Ms. Hale says, “I want to provide an environment for my students going forward, where they can feel connected to their peers at ASU Prep Digital. To know they’re part of a community.” 

That sense of community and connectedness is clear within the Student Council. And now with their mission statement guiding them, they’re extending their vision to the rest of the student body. Their first major success at bringing together students from their online middle school was hosting “Forks Up Friendship,” an online social event with ten breakout rooms based on popular interests gleaned from an anonymous interest form distributed to ASU Prep Digital Middle School students. The event gained such great participation and feedback, the Student Council will host another one May 18.