February 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, 

To our Class of 2022 Seniors: Congratulations on making it to the very last semester of your high school career! Our Graduation Committee has been hard at work creating opportunities to celebrate this important milestone in your lives. The following information was sent out in a Senior Newsletter. If for some reason you did not receive this information, please reach out to your Learning Success Coach to be added to the mailing list.

  • Design Your Graduation Cap Contest: Ready, set, design! Get your creative juices flowing and design your graduation cap for a chance to win a gift card! Click here to learn more.
  • Senior Swag: Coming to a mailbox near you is a special package for our digital grads. Please complete this form to confirm your mailing address and legal name as it should appear on your diploma.
  • Senior Academic Awards Ceremony: Our Senior Academic Awards Ceremony will take place at ASU on the morning of May 23, 2022. A formal invitation will be emailed by the end of March.

ASU Preparatory Academy Network Graduation Ceremony: Save the Date for our ASU Preparatory Academy Network Graduation Ceremony held on Monday, May 23, 2022 at 7:00pm AZ. Click here to view our graduation website. Note that the start time has been changed to 7:00pm AZ.


Dr. Laura Maloney, Director of Academics

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

Staff Spotlight

Stephanie Merritt, 2nd Grade

Mrs. Merritt is one of our 2nd Grade Teachers. “My favorite thing about being an educator is the growth I see in each student as they progress academically and emotionally throughout the year. The fact that when I am teaching and/or facilitating learning, nothing else matters because for that moment in time it is all about the student’s academic and emotional needs! Most importantly being an educator does make a difference in the world!”

Miriam Castillo, 7th grade Science Teacher

Mrs. Castillo has been teaching science for over 15 years. She has lived in Oregon her entire life and she admits that she loves “every square inch of this beautiful state.”  Mrs. Castillo lives in a small, fairly rural, town east of Salem, the state capital, where she is surrounded by forests, farms and vineyards. Her area is considered the “Grass Capital of the World!” Mrs. Castillo has four kiddos. Her oldest is a freshman in high school and her youngest in preschool. They keep her busy playing sports and piano.  In her free time, she loves to travel and explore. Whether it be a short drive to the nearby state parks, boating the lakes, skiing the mountains or a flight to the Hawaiian islands and beyond, Mrs. Castillo loves it all!

Mrs. Castillo’s 7th grade science students are currently learning about chemical reactions.  She is so excited to be able to connect with her students and listen to their stories about the challenging experiments they are performing at home. Mrs. Castillo shares, “They are choosing to do the ‘hard things’ on their own and absolutely nailing it! The learning experience with ASUPD ‘hands-on’ activities is INVALUABLE!”

Kristin Jackson-Nesmith, High School Teacher

As a Washington, DC native, Kristin Jackson-Nesmith has worked in various brick and mortar educational settings in her hometown for over 20 years. Although she has worked with all grades ranging from second grade to adult learners, Kristin spent over ten years as a middle and high school math teacher in public, private, and charter schools. During her career, Kristin has also been a high school Dean of Students, Vice Principal and an Instructional Coach at a K-8 elementary school. Her belief is that student-centered education provides all learners with opportunities to actualize their potential and achieve more than they can imagine…students should always be our focus!

Kristin earned her Bachelor’s degree from Saint Peter’s University (Jersey City, NJ) in marketing, where she was a walk-on women’s basketball player and manager.  She earned her Master’s degree from George Washington University (Washington, DC) in educational leadership and administration. She holds principal certification in Maryland and Arizona. In her spare time Kristin enjoys watching sports and documentaries, spending time with her son, and exploring different restaurants.

Meet The Teachers

Mrs. Deanne Lialios, Elementary LSC

Deanne Lialios, one of our amazing Elementary Learning Success Coaches believes that, “All learners must feel safe and cared for in order to learn, blossom, and grow. The best learning takes place in a climate of caring and trust where learners feel safe to participate and take risks in order to succeed academically. I try to create a classroom atmosphere where I model kindness and patience, teach growth mindset, celebrate each other with praise, and allow students to express their own thoughts and ideas with trust and mutual respect.”

Mark Anderson, Middle School Math Teacher

Mr. Mark Anderson has been teaching middle school math for over 16 years and has been a math teacher with ASU Prep schools for five years. He has a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU. Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Anderson served five years in the U.S. Army as an Avionics Technician.  He repaired radios and navigation systems on Blackhawk helicopters. Following his time in the military, Mr. Anderson worked as an Equipment Maintenance Technician for Motorola, where he repaired and maintained machines that helped build computer chips. Mr. Anderson has a deep passion for technology and enjoys building, fixing and repairing things. He loves DIY projects and fly fishing! For his next project, he plans to put these two together to build a boat (using TONS of middle school math) that he can take into the flats off of the Texas coast and fly fish for red fish. Mr. Anderson has been married for 31 years and has two sons, a very mischievous Husky pup and a very loyal German Shepard pup. He loves teaching with ASU Prep Digital because of the many opportunities he gets to work with a diverse student population. Mr. Anderson shared, “When teaching in a brick and mortar classroom, the students all come from the same area, generally. Here we have students not only from all over Arizona, but students that are traveling all over the US and the world. I love learning about their backgrounds and interests because the reason they chose ASUPD is so different.”

Erin Morrison, High School Math Department Lead

Mrs. Erin Morrison is a native Mississippian who loves to spend time sipping her morning tea, playing with her young grandson (Tucker) and fishing in the pond on her property. She is a big fan of warm and soft hoodies. Erin and her husband (Adam) enjoy the quiet country living in the heart of Mississippi and when she is not leading the way as our excellent Math Department Lead Teacher, Erin relishes time reading and enjoying nature with her family. 

School Updates

Elementary School

Our students, families, teachers and staff are moving right into this second semester. We have learned a ton, accomplished more, and have had some fun while doing so. We have implemented our pilot into Learning Pods. They are going well! Parents/Home educators and students, we are asking for your support in completing this survey, if you have not already done so, for information regarding your experience with Learning Pods. 

Social Activities

    • Sparky’s Broadcasting Club Hangout Padlet
    • Sparky’s Broadcasting Club Yearbook
    • K-5 Learning Pods
    • Spelling Bee:  Next Monday February 14, kicks off the first annual ASUPD Spelling Bee! Students who have signed up for the bee should have gotten an email with the time and zoom link. Those emails went to student and parent email accounts. Please reach out to your LSC if you don’t have your zoom link. You will see times in the spelling bee flyers above!
    • Sparky’s Week of Kindness:  The week of February 14 will be Sparky’s Week of Kindness. Students will be demonstrating Kindness in several ways during the course of the week!
    • Read Across America Week:  March 2 will be Read Across America day!  We have fun things planned all week to celebrate reading!  We are asking our elementary students to read to the high school students this year AND of course our high school friends will be reading to us! So excited to share in this event
    • Moving Up to Middle School:  Calling All 5th Graders-March 2 is also the date for our Moving Up to Middle activities.  All 5th graders will be invited to the 6th grade homeroom to meet students, LSCs and teachers!  We will have a parent informational meeting that afternoon! Click HERE for details.

K-6 Social Worker Office Hours

I am happy to announce I will be offering Social Work Office hours on Thursdays from 230pm-330pm for students to drop in and chat, learn a new skill, or meet new friends starting Thursday, January 27, 2022 (students are not required to sign up for office hours). Simply click the link on the flyer and it will take you directly to my zoom room!”

Learn more about our Elementary School here: https://www.asuprepdigital.org/elementary-school-program/

Middle School

Forks Up Friday!

ASU Prep Digitial’s Middle School is excited to start “Forks Up Fridays” where teachers, LSCs and other middle school friends will lead fun Friday activities for students. Each Friday, starting in February, students will be able to join an hour of fun learning, socializing and enrichment. 

Future Forks Up Friday topics include: baking treats together, a pet showcase, an open mic jam, jammin jeopardy, a travel adventures showcase, art time, a Lego challenge, pop culture fun and so much more! More information and announcements will be available in Homeroom and on your LSC’s Canvas page.  

African American History Month

Middle school teachers are kicking off African American History month in live lessons. Students will learn about African American history and different careers associated with varying professional genres.

Social Activities

Learn more about our Middle School program here: https://www.asuprepdigital.org/middle-school-program/ 

High School

Student Highlight: Celia Moller

Celia comes to ASU Prep from homeschooling. She has dived into Social Studies, consuming the learning and content at such a rate that she finished the course. The beauty in her work is that at each step of the way she showed 100% mastery of the content. She acquired the concepts and was able to share in her own words what they meant and how they applied. Celia finished the course not only early BUT with 100%. That is extraordinary which reflects the AMAZINGNESS of Celia! The picture is of the nation Celia created in a unit activity. Morishima Island looks like a great place to live.” – Tracy Williams

Summer Opportunity for HS Students

W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has a unique summer 2022 program. Selected students will spend the summer working with W. P. Carey, and will take the ASU Prep Internship digital course in the fall. Students who are interested must complete the following rigorous application process:


  • Students selected for the Fleischer Scholars summer program benefit from a multitude of resources, and they learn necessary skills for success in college and beyond.
  • Receive a free laptop
  • Obtain free college course credit
  • Learn the keys to academic and professional success
  • Discover academic and career opportunities
  • Interact with current W. P. Carey students, faculty, staff, and alumni


  • Arizona high school student graduating in 2023 or 2024
  • Teacher or professional recommendation
  • Involvement in the school and/or community

Application deadlines

  • March 1, 2022 – Late Consideration

Click here to Learn More.

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!

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.  

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: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register 

ACT Registration: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration.html

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 Admissions: Attention Seniors!

ASU has some fantastic webinars coming up to help you prepare for next year! 

  • Topic: Paying for College: Understanding your costs and financial aid – Join the Paying for College: Understanding your financial aid session to learn about your financial aid package and resources available to you. Our team of experts will guide you through understanding your costs, accessing and understanding your awards, and answer your questions about paying for college. Webinar Registration Link
  • Topic: Next Steps for Admitted Students – You’re admitted! Now what? This session will guide you through your next steps to enroll at Arizona State University. Learn about New Student Experience, including how to register for classes, selecting your housing, student life, how to get involved on campus and everything you need to know to be successful before classes start. Webinar Registration Link

ASU Summer Programs

ASU Summer Programs are available for students in grades 8th – 12th in a variety of topics including engineering, leadership, math and the arts. Programs are offered on all four ASU campuses and online, and formats range from day camps to residential programs, where students have the opportunity to live on campus. https://eoss.asu.edu/access/programs/summer 

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. 

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. 

How is Digital taking steps in helping families and students who need extra support this month? 

  • Mind Over Matter series – In response to the much needed not only social emotional but mental health concerns that have increased in the last couple of years, ASUPD continues to expand in support of our families. Our new K-6 Social Worker, Carla White,  has been able to assist families with guidance in the following areas: mental health, social emotional, and providing community resource information. Carla has office hours weekly for students every Thursday 2:30pm-3:30pm AZ time. If students and families would like to learn about school social work services, you can reach out to Carla at cwhite41@asu.edu.
  • Our elementary LSCs will be hosting Kristen Kaus, TGEN’s manager of outreach and innovation! TGEN partners with ASU to study genomics and provide advances in human health. Mrs. Kaus will be sharing about her work and providing the students with a tour of the facility! Learn about biology, DNA, science and health innovations!  Save the date – Wednesday 2-23-22 10-11am AZ time via Zoom.  More details to come!
  • All grade level teachers host weekly small groups to support students on an individualized basis. We love this additional time with students on Zoom to support students based on weekly data and areas of need as well as areas where students can be challenged in the content. Students should plan to attend these small group sessions, as they assist in helping students delve deeply into and personalize what they are learning in class!
  • Tracy Williams led our math challenge!  Please click HERE for the winners!
  • Click HERE to see our Math Escape/ Riddle Room Winners! Congratulations to all of our winners and participants!
  • Forks Up Friday will continue this week with a Microwave Mug Cake Baking Lesson with Mrs. Lopez, Mrs. Wallace, and Mrs. Plotkin. Please click HERE for the ingredients and zoom link.
  • Want to know what is ahead for Forks Up Friday?  Click HERE for upcoming events!
  • Our second annual science fair is well underway!  Projects have been submitted and are being reviewed by our panel of judges.
  • March 2nd is Read Across America Day!  To celebrate, elementary students will be joining our English Live Lessons on Tuesday, March 1st to read their favorite books.  On Wednesday, March 2nd, high school students will be joining Morning Huddles and/or Live Lessons to read their favorite books to our elementary students students.
  • ASUPD High School is proud to offer our Peer Tutoring Program sponsored by Mrs. Miranda Rhoades (H.S. Math Teacher): Sun Devil Success team: We are a group of students working to aid our peers. You can schedule a meeting for one week or continue to meet with us every week. To schedule a meeting you will be required to fill out this form. Middle school meetings will be held on Mondays and High School meetings will be held on Wednesdays. Once you have signed up your tutor will contact you before the meeting. Subjects Available: Algebra 1&2, Art History, Biology, Chemistry, English 9-12, French Geometry, Modern World History, Spanish 1 &2, Us History. Middle School Math, English, Science and Social Studies.

Learn more about our Academic Support Program offerings here.

ASU Prep Digital Blog

6 ASU Prep Digital Students are Scoring Goals—and Achieving Them

Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by coronavirus variants and the assistance this learning model can provide to at-risk students, according to two papers released today by Pioneer Institute. Read more.

How to Thrive as a Digital Teacher in 2022

It can be hard to keep New Year’s resolutions, but if there’s one that teachers should commit to when January rolls around, it’s to enroll in one of the new training courses debuting in 2022 on the ASU Prep Digital online training portal. Read more.

ASU Prep Digital Students Are Changing the World

Global leaders could learn a thing or two from a handful of ASU Prep Digital 8th graders and their peers half a world away. As part of the Global Leadership Exchange pilot program, this small group of online middle school students is tackling herculean challenges on a global scale, from human migration, plastic pollution and climate change to deforestation, clean water and access to technology. Read more. 

Donate to ASU Prep

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!