Resource Awards Ceremony Makes the Newspaper

Last week’s Resource Awards Ceremony at our school is in this Thursday’s East Side section of the Arizona Daily Star.

You can find the story at this address:

Resource students are the stars as school tailors awards for them

End-of-the-year awards ceremonies are in full swing at local schools this month, and at Tucson Country Day School there’s an annual awards night unique to a special group of students.

This year marks the sixth annual resource awards ceremony at the K-8 public charter school, 9239 E. Wrightstown Road.

Special education director Kelly Grusendorf thought up the event as a way to celebrate the resource students’ efforts and accomplishments.

“I really wanted to ensure all students had a time to shine and be proud of their hard work. This is a way to recognize their growths and academic gains throughout the school year,” she said.

During the evening ceremony, held May 15, each of this year’s 90 resource students — who have varying disabilities that may include learning, behavioral, physical, speech and language challenges or are English Language Learners — receive an award that is individualized to the child.

Examples of the awards range from “most improved reader” and “amazing mathematician” to “most improved attitude” and “eager to learn.”

In addition, nearly three dozen BUG awards are given out. BUG stands for bringing up grades. Each student who earned higher grades in two or more core subjects throughout the year received the award, which includes a certificate and an edible gummy bug.

As the night goes on, students and parents wait to hear the names of just four children who will be called up to receive an AAA award — a shiny trophy on which the recipient’s name is engraved.

The three A’s stand for academics, attitude and attendance, and the award is given to students who have had outstanding performance in all those areas. Recipients are carefully selected by the resource team, as receiving the award is considered a huge honor.

The final award of the night evolved in a creative way. The DEVIN award is a trophy given to one eighth-grader each year. It is named after former Tucson Country Day School student Devin Celis. During her time in resource at the school, Devin exhibited determination, enthusiasm, vigor, integrity and nobility. Grusendorf was so impressed with her character she decided to create the award in her honor.

Devin, now 16 and a sophomore in high school, has returned to the school to present the award each year since having received it two years ago.

The ceremony isn’t just for resource students — all the students support it, as do school staffers and general education teachers, and, of course, parents. Many parents noted that recognizing resource students in this way has boosted their child’s self-esteem and performance in school.

Parent Ranae Hutchison credits the resource department for helping her son Trent, now in fourth grade, with successes he has today. Trent was one of this year’s recipients of the AAA award.

“When I found out he was getting it, tears came to me because without (the resource team’s) help and without his dedication, it wouldn’t have happened. He has just grown leaps and bound since he’s been in resource,” Hutchison said.

Lindsay McDonald, parent of a third-grader in resource and a teacher at the school, attended the ceremony with her family.

“This is my favorite event all year. Every time, it makes me cry,” she said.

McDonald’s husband — parent and Tucson Country Day School teacher Jason Wright — helped cheer on their son.

“I’m so proud of the resource department. It’s truly an honor to have our son participate in such an amazing program,” he said.

Grusendorf is not aware of any other school in Tucson that hosts an awards evening solely for resource students.

“I really wanted a way to make sure we are celebrating the successes and dedication of all students, and this awards ceremony gives us a platform to make that happen,” she said.