Cheers to Our 2023 Staff Member of the Year Nominees

« Back  |  

On behalf of ASU Preparatory Academy, we want to recognize our outstanding education support personnel for their significant contributions to our school and students. Meet our incredible 2023 Staff Member of the Year nominees:


Mollie Patten, Learning Success Coach
ASU Prep Digital 

Mollie Patten is a Learning Success Coach with ASU Prep’s Math Momentum Team. She enjoys working alongside passionate, innovative colleagues and curious, thoughtful middle school mathematicians. The heart of her work involves celebrating and supporting student progress, brainstorming and planning with teachers, and connecting with her partner district. She also ensures that all requirements are fulfilled with enrollments, scheduling, and testing. Mollie has her undergraduate degree from ASU and it is what led her to apply for the Learning Success Coach role. 

Yessica Flores, Administrative Assistant
ASU South Phoenix

Yessica Flores is an Administrative Assistant at South Phoenix High School. This is her second year in education and as a member of the ASU Prep team. In her role, she manages the school budget, inventory, school functions, and assists and provides guidance to all staff members. Prior to ASU Prep she was a Business Manager in the property management industry for 10 years. She decided to change career paths and is loving her current position. 

Liliana Grijalva, Academic Coach
ASU Prep Phoenix

Lily Grijalva is a dedicated technology-loving educator who has worked with teachers and students to challenge themselves in the classroom to improve student learning. Lily has 17 years in education, and for the past nine years at ASU Prep she has worked as a teacher and now supports teachers as an Academic Coach. She holds a Master of Administration and Leadership from the University of Phoenix, and a Master of Educational Technology from ASU. She is a first-generation school graduate, and believes that everyone is able to learn and accomplish goals that others may think of as impossible.   

Amy Danielson, Registrar
ASU Prep Poly

Amy Danielson is the lead Registrar for the Poly K-12 campus and provides guidance to all Registrar team members across the network. This is her seventh year as a member of the ASU Prep staff. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She believes in supporting our parents and students in the registration process, which helps pave the way to building long-lasting relationships with the school. 

Kacey McCan, IT Operations Manager
ASU Prep Academy 

Kacey McCan is a passionate IT manager who provides operational solutions to our students and staff across all of ASU Prep. She has eight years of IT support expertise and is entering her third school year at ASU Prep. Kacey completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of South Florida and has continued her education through various training and certifications. She has a curious mind and is dedicated to identifying innovative systems and outcomes that support our staff and ASU Prep learners on a daily basis. 

Kim Mitchell, Learning Facilitator
ASU Polytechnic 

Kim Mitchell is a devoted Learning Facilitator who provides support for our middle school and high school math immersion students and teachers at ASU Prep Poly. This is her 10th year in education and her ninth year at ASU Prep. She adores the students and strives to find methods to help each of them succeed. Kim believes in ASU Prep’s culture and vision so much that her son has attended our school since kindergarten. He is now in his junior year and is looking forward to continuing his education as a Sun Devil. 

Loralee Castillo Panagakis, Reading Interventionist
ASU Prep Phoenix 

Loralee Castillo Panagakis is a Reading Interventionist and has been at ASU Prep for two years. She has 24 years of teaching experience, and believes learning never stops. Raised in the old Atrisco Land grant area of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and having grown up in a bilingual home and community, she learned that with hard work and dedication dreams can become reality. She earned her Master of Education specializing as a Program Reading Specialist from Liberty University and is currently working on a Master in Educational Leadership at ASU. She is a current National Board Candidate for Early and Middle Childhood/Literacy: Reading-Language Arts.

 Fallon Roberts, Human Capital Manager
ASU Prep Academy 

Fallon Roberts is a Human Resources professional who is passionate about the employee experience. This is her fifth year in Human Resources, and second year with the Human Capital team at ASU Prep. Fallon earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from San Francisco State University, and recently earned her Society of Human Resources certification. She believes in fostering a positive culture for all by offering exceptional internal customer service that supports all employees in their work.

Brian Ross, Dean of Students
ASU Prep Casa Grande

Brian Ross is the Dean of Students at ASU Prep Casa Grande. This is his 23rd year in education and seventh year as part of the Casa Grande team. Brian earned his Bachelor of Science in General Biology and Master of Education in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona. He believes that all decisions in education should be student-centered, that all students have the capacity for growth, and that restorative practices help build relationships between students and educators of every level.  

 Andrea Swayze, Speech Language Pathologist
ASU Prep Digital 

Andrea Swayze is a Speech-Language Pathologist serving digital middle and high school students. Her role includes case management, therapy, evaluations, as well as collaboration with each student’s academic team. This is her second year at ASU Prep Digital and her 21st as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Andrea earned her degrees from University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, and Northcentral University. Andrea was drawn to the profession after receiving successful speech therapy as a child. She believes all students thrive when a quality relationship is nurtured and students feel respected as individuals. She is supporting the future of Speech-Language Pathology by guiding intern clinicians each semester. 

Tracy Patrum, Learning Success Coach
ASU Prep Digital 

Tracy Patrum is a Learning Success Coach who provides guidance and support to students and families in all aspects of their high school journey. This is her third year at ASU Prep Digital and her 20th year in education. Tracy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from Loras College and her Master of Science in Counselor Education from the University of Wisconsin Platteville. She believes that the most important thing she can do for her students and families is to be a light in their day. Her goal is to leave people feeling supported, happier, and more hopeful after each conversation. 

Allison Voltaire, Elementary Principal
ASU Prep Digital 

Allison Voltaire serves as the Digital Elementary Principal. This is her 17th year as an educator, her 11th year as a Digital educator, and her third year as a proud ASU Sun Devil. Allison has a Master in Educational Leadership from American College of Education as well as a Master in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology for Educators from Grand Canyon University. Her leadership philosophy is that every year should be every student’s best year ever, which she strives to blend in with ASU Prep’s Core Values every day.

Amanda Wojtalik, Dean of Students
ASU Polytechnic

Congratulations to all of our outstanding staff nominees!  

Passover: Celebrating Freedom and Family

« Back  |  

Students of all religions, cultures, and beliefs call ASU Prep home, and we are honored to include and welcome them. Passover is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom. The holiday, which usually falls in March or April, is often celebrated for eight days and incorporates remembrance of Jewish history, family, and themes of springtime. This year, it concludes the evening of April 13.

The Passover holiday is a “festival of freedom.” The festive seder meal occurs on the first two nights of the holiday and is observed with families, friends, and communities. The seder involves the re-telling of the Exodus. In order to protect their first-born children, the Israelites marked their doors with lamb’s blood so the angel of death would pass over them, thus the name Passover, or “pesach” in Hebrew.

Through stories, songs, and the consumption of ritual foods, families retell the story of deliverance and pass on traditions and religious beliefs. Many Jews do not eat certain leavened foods during Passover. There is a specific section of the seder called the four questions, where the youngest person at the table asks about the different Passover symbols and the elders explain.

In 2020, an estimated 15 million people worldwide identified themselves as Jewish. Jews believe God made a special covenant with Abraham, the founder of Judaism, and that he and his descendants were chosen people who would create a great nation. The origins of the Jewish faith are explained throughout the Torah.

ASU Prep wishes all our community celebrating Passover, a wonderful holiday.  

Christians Celebrate Easter with Hope and Joy

« Back  |  

ASU Prep is proud that students from all over the United States, as well as around the world, call our schools home. With its diverse student body and faculty and staff, it is also home to a wide variety of religions and beliefs.  

Christians around the world celebrated Easter this past Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. The significance of Easter is Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death. Christians believe it is this triumph that affirms Jesus was the prophesied Messiah of Israel and the King of a new heaven and a new earth.

In the Christian calendar, Easter follows Lent—the period of 40 days not counting Sundays before Easter—which some Christian sects observe by acts of penance and fasting. Some Christians choose to give up specific preferences, such as sweets, soda, or social media, during Lent as a reminder to pray and to refocus on spiritual matters.

Easter has accumulated a great many secular traditions and symbols. Decorating and hiding eggs for example. The egg became a symbol representing new life. In the U.S., another common custom is that the Easter bunny leaves children baskets with toys and candies on Easter morning. 

Christianity is the largest religious group in the world—approximately one-third of the world’s total population–with an estimated 2.6 billion identifying themselves as Christians. Like many religions, Christianity has several denominations, but Easter brings them together in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.    

ASU Preparatory Academy’s Innovative People, Programs Earn High Honors at 2023 Edtech Awards

« Back  |  

ASU Prep Leaders and Tech Programs Receive Recognition Across

Three Categories, Including Prestigious Designation as Winning School Leader

TEMPE, Ariz. (April 11, 2023) –  A forward-thinking, innovative approach to education is once again earning accolades for ASU Preparatory Academy and its leadership team. At the annual EdTech Awards, ASU Prep leaders and initiatives earned honors in three categories, including School Leader, School Leader Setting a Trend and Learning Management Solution.

Among the honorees is Julie Young, Managing Director of ASU Prep and Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach, who was named the winner of the School Leader category. In addition, Amy McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for ASU Prep and Deputy Vice President of ASU Educational Outreach, was named a finalist in the School Leader Setting a Trend category. 

Rounding out ASU’s presence at the awards was the ASU Prep Learning Cloud, which was a finalist in the Learning Management Solution category.

“Through ASU Prep, we’re leveraging rapidly advancing technology to bring personalized educational opportunities to K-12 students everywhere,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Peer recognitions like this affirm that our learning network is effectively harnessing emerging technologies to support student success.”

The EdTech Awards were established in 2010 to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the most exceptional innovators, leaders and trendsetters in education technology. Celebrating its 13th year, the U.S.-based program is the world’s largest recognition program for education technology, recognizing the biggest names in edtech—and those who soon will be.

This year’s finalists and winners were narrowed from the larger field and judged based on various criteria, including pedagogical workability, efficacy and results, support, clarity, value and potential.

“A very big congratulations to all The EdTech Awards 2023 finalists and winners—and congratulations to all who endured the upheavals of the last few years only to come through stronger, more experienced, resilient and resolute in laying out the future of learning,” said Victor Rivero, who as Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest, oversees the program.

Equipping Students for Future Success

« Back  |  

With spring break in the rearview mirror, students and educators know that “destination summer” is just ahead. And for many, that anticipation causes a slight slowdown as it’s not uncommon for students to lose focus and motivation at the end of the year.

How can you help your students finish the school year strong?

“With a month and a half to go, many students and teachers are tired. But there are ways to make those last few weeks memorable and meaningful,” said Annabelle Davey, Teacher Trainer at ASU Prep Digital.

Davey, a former middle and high school science teacher, shared the importance of goal setting and the power of developing action plans.

“There are strategies you can use to help students set goals and check if progress is made—whether long-term goal setting for the future, or how to cross the finish line this school year.”   

That’s one of the reasons why the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute (AZVTI) created the professional training workshop, Equipping Students for Future Success.

College and Career Readiness

The other part of the training focuses on exploring ways to identify students’ interests and strengths, and why career and college readiness is vital.   

Equipping Students for Future Success provides teachers of all grades with strategies they can use to encourage students to think about what is possible. Getting to know the student and building that relationship is the first step. The two-hour course provides resources that can be used to help students identify their strengths.

Additionally, the workshop connects how to build opportunities for students to practice other skills that will be important to them. Soft skills such as creativity, collaboration, adaptation, leadership skills, and time management.

“Hard skills are important, yes, but no matter what job they have, soft skills are applicable,” said Davey, who referred to a recent study that said 75 percent of long-term job success comes down to soft skills.

“Having conversations about future careers, even when only in elementary school, helps students to open their eyes to possibilities,” she added. “It’s hard to imagine, but the jobs for our students in K-8…a lot is changing, and the jobs of the future don’t exist yet.”

Upcoming Workshop: Equipping Students for Future Success 

AZVTI is pleased to offer Equipping Students for Future Success on Saturday, April 1, from 9-11 a.m. (PST). Participants will earn 2.0 hours of Professional Development credit for attending this session. Click here to enroll. 

Educators and leaders can take advantage of AZVTI training resources which are provided at no cost to Arizona K-12 educators through the generous investment of the Arizona Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University.

“Every kid can take a path to college,” said Davey. “The question is, how can we help make those connections for them to start now and find opportunities based on what they’re interested in?”   

If you’d like to learn more about Equipping Students for Future Success or explore other professional development training opportunities, please visit the ASU Prep Digital Training Calendar.  

ASU Microschools Provide Possibilities

« Back  |  

Microschools, a learning model often referred to as a cross between homeschool and private school education, is the result of rethinking the traditional educational model to better prepare children for the future. With a passion to create flexible school program alternatives that offer high student engagement and inclusion, ASU Prep offered five microschool cohorts on three campuses this Fall.

ASU Prep Local

 ASU Prep Local is a year-long hybrid program for high school students who spend two days per week on an ASU campus and the other three days working virtually from home. Students can take ASU courses and receive concurrent credit for both high school and college.

This last semester, ASU Prep Local welcomed 100 students onto the ASU Media Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center, ASU West, and ASU Polytechnic campuses. At MIX Center location in Mesa, 31 students enrolled in the ASU Prep Digital Cinematography class facilitated by their on-site Personalized Learning Advisors (PLAs) and supported by ASU faculty. At ASU West, 39 of the 44 students enrolled in the Public Speaking ASU course (COM225).

Based on Fall semester grade reports, 95 percent of students received a grade of an “A” or “B” in the site-based local elective.

“We are so proud of the work that has been accomplished this year,” said Megan Hanley, Director of Strategic Initiatives at ASU Prep. “Currently, our seniors are outperforming all other grade levels, with a 93 percent passing rate in all content courses.” 

ASU Prep Experience

ASU Prep Experience is a single-semester program available to ASU Prep Digital students grades 9-11. Students spend one day on-site at an ASU campus and the remaining days work digitally. They attend faculty-supported workshops that focus on real-world, project-based learning and earn honors elective high school credit.

Twenty students enrolled in Fall for the ASU Prep Poly Experience in collaboration with the College of Integrated Sciences and Arts at the ASU Polytechnic campus.

 Another cohort sprouted this Spring with 22 students currently enrolled in the ASU Prep Tempe Experience in collaboration with the Center of Building Innovation at the ASU Tempe campus.  

“This is a very cool, integrative experience this semester with a focus on innovation, design, and architecture,” said Hanley. “Students are learning about the built environment. They get to build models of furniture for learning environments and think through what kind of seating or environments work for certain learners and learning styles.” 

Making an impact

 ASU Prep microschool programs have a significant impact on the students and communities they serve. The project-based learning approach encourages students to take an active role in their own education, which can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning.

“Our student-centered approach is building community for students,” said Hanley. “They’re on campus, welcomed by other students and faculty…they feel like they’re already college students. It’s a great chance for students to explore university degree paths and career options.”

Student retention is 91 percent—a good indicator that students are finding success with this learning model.

ASU Prep is continuing to look at enhancements and designs to further build out programming with plans to expand next year. 



You Can Be Part of Women’s HERstory Month

« Back  |  

For many women across the globe, March means much more than the beginning of spring. Women’s History Month, observed annually in March in the U.S. since 1987, is a time to celebrate the contributions, achievements, and discoveries women have made to history and culture. Women do represent 49.6 percent of the world’s population, after all.

Arizona State University is proud to celebrate Women’s HERstory Month to increase the visibility of all women and women-identified peoples in our community. There are many activities planned throughout the month that not only celebrate women, but highlight important issues impacting our world–on campus and beyond.   

ASU Hosted Women’s HERstory Month Events 

Not Your Grandfather’s Union: The History of Women’s Labor Activism
March 15 | 3-4 p.m.

Professor Mary Margaret Fonow (she/her/hers) Professor Emerita, Gender and Women’s Studies will provide a brief historical overview of women’s labor activism in the U.S. through archival photos, song, and oral interviews.
Registration information

Practical Audacity: Black Women and Human Rights
Wednesday, March 22 | 3-4 p.m.

Professor Stanlie James, Ph.D. (she/her/hers) Professor, School of Social Transformation + Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement Emerita, will discuss some of the highlights from her most recent book “Practical Audacity: Black Women and International Human Rights.”
Registration information

Women’s HERstory Month Events.