Our “Red Carpet” Welcome Featured in Arizona Daily Star

Several pictures and a short article made it into the Arizona Daily Star’s East Side and Foothills section of the newspaper this Thursday, August 14. A photographer had come out to take pictures of the exciting “red carpet” welcome on our first day of school. Here is a link to the article and pictures:




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.

Tucson Country Day School Makes Newspaper for Helping Students in Kibera

An Arizona Daily Star reporter and photographer visited our school Tuesday to learn more about the Child to Child Project: Sharing Kindness With Kibera that we have been working on since the beginning of the school year. Our project culminated with our students making picture frames – with Kibera students pictures in them – to send back to the kids in Kibera, most of whom have not seen themselves before.

Here is a link to the Arizona Daily Star article:




Pen pal project connected kids from Tucson to Africa

by Perla Trevizo


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Ali, Maddy and Tatum work on picture frames for their Kibera pen pals.



Most of the students in Kibera don’t have pictures of themselves, and  many have never even seen themselves because there are no mirrors.

Learning about others and extending a helping hand is what drew Daniel into the pen-pal school project with children from Africa.

“Maybe one day you will need help just like them, and maybe they can help you,” said the 10-year-old as he decorated a picture of one of the children from Kibera, one of the largest slums in the world with about 1 million residents.

More than 750 Tucson Country Day School students took part in a yearlong effort, which included sending letters to students in Kibera, outside Nairobi, Kenya, filling a suitcase with crayons, pencils and other school supplies donated by the students and their families, and which is culminating this week with the art project.

Most of the students in Kibera don’t have pictures of themselves — many have never even seen themselves because there are no mirrors, school officials said. So as part of the Child to Child Project: Sharing Kindness With Kibera, the students decorated and framed pictures of their pen pals, glued on purple cloth, with their names to be sent back to Africa.

Part of the Common Core standards is to push children to think globally, said Terra Maddock, a fifth- grade teacher at Tucson Country Day School. “We thought, ‘Let’s do something with another country and try to be pen pals.’ ”

Through word of mouth, they heard of someone who worked in Kibera who came to the school to talk to the children about life in the slum and the importance of education.

What struck Hunter, 11, the most from the visit was that guest Charles Nderitu told students he was 18 when he owned his first pair of shoes.

“It made me feel sad,” the fifth-grader said, “because when you don’t have shoes until you are 18 you are stepping on the hot ground and your feet are burning.”

She also wants their classrooms to be bigger. The students saw pictures of 30 to 40 of their pen pals wearing their blue-and-red uniforms crammed into little classrooms with dirt floors and walls made with metal sheeting.

Even after the project is done, Hunter said, she would like to keep helping people because she gets a “tingly feeling” in her body that makes her happy. And one day she would like to visit Africa to see what it’s like over there and work with people.

Maddock said she’s seen her students form long-lasting relationships across the world.

“I have seen how generous and thoughtful my students can be,” she said. “It’s proven that it’s really more about giving than getting.”

And along the way, they also worked on teamwork and writing, and learned to communicate better with one another, she said.