A heartfelt letter of thanks

This letter was written by Julia Bourdo, Marketing Teacher at Camelback High School. You can reach Julia at bourdo@phoenix union.org

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts concerning SVPAZ and Camelback Partnerships’ work at Camelback over the past three years. It was so exciting to be part of the group this past Friday that is proactively helping to sustain the progress that has been made over the four years since Dr. Gestson took the lead. My fear is that without a strong person at the helm, we will slide backwards.

I have been at Camelback for the past 22 years. I teach marketing and am the DECA Advisor. There has been a high turnover (14 give or take a few) of principals since I started at Camelback. Some were more effective than others but Dr. G is definitely at the top of my list. In my view, Camelback High School was a place that no quality teacher would want to transfer into, unless they had another motive. Many people referred to CBHS as the step child of the district. Now, when attending district marketing teacher meetings, the marketing teachers all wish that they had a leader like Dr. Gestson. I have always been proud to be a Spartan, but now the whole school including students, staff, administration, and community see the great things that are happening, and we stand united as CBHS Spartans.

The SVPAZ partnership has been fantastic for the Marketing/DECA Program at Camelback. The program is co-curricular including Marketing content instruction, a student-run store inside the classroom, and DECA, the professional student organization. Dr. G has introduced me to some of the most amazing people. One in particular that has touched my life is Rick West. He has shared his personal story with my students, invited a group of my students to the Vincent’s restaurant sharing session each year and shared the importance of paying it forward. He has also critiqued DECA presentations for those students that were competing at DECA State and National Competition and attended our annual Toastmaster’s Luncheon. If you want to know more about DECA, visit the website (deca.org or azdeca.org). It is the second largest professional high student organization in the US. It offers over one million dollars in scholarships and provides students numerous opportunities to gain leadership skills.

Park & Michelle Howell were also introduced to me by Dr. G. Their youngest son transferred from a Scottsdale school, and they enrolled him in my marketing and advisory classes. Mr. Howell has shared his experience and expertise with my students by teaching my class each year about the art of storytelling. This has prepared my students for DECA Regional and State Competition. Also, the Howells helped chaperone a New York City field trip with 55 students in the spring of 2011. On that trip, Park arranged a visit to one of the largest advertising firms in the US for our group. He introduced me to Goodwill executives, proposing a job readiness skills center on Camelback’s Campus. He continues to be a great support for both the marketing students and myself.

Because the Camelback students always seem to be at a social disadvantage at regional and statewide competition, I introduced Toastmaster’s to my program many years ago. This helps our students with communication skills in speaking and listening. Each year we have the top ten students from the marketing classes give their speeches at a high end restaurant. We make it an event so the students practice how to dress like professionals, how to dine in an upscale restaurant, and how to be appropriate audience members at a formal event. Dr. G continues to invite a group of the SVPAZ Partners each year to join us. Last year, a student told her story about how difficult it was to be a young mom, and a SVPAZ individual heard the student’s story and was moved to help. The results were an amazing Christmas for the family, a day at the spa, a dress for the prom and a four year paid educational opportunity to Grand Canyon University! Yet another SVPAZ Partner, Carol Cox, has brought in her hair dresser and esthetician for the day to teach my students how to do their hair and makeup for competition. She and her friends have also judged competition in class, at DECA regionals and state. By the way, Camelback is the only school in the whole district that is sending students to competition at the National level this year!

One of the most amazing introductions was Scott McIntosh. He introduced me to his passion of becoming an entrepreneur through social consciousness. His focus was introducing these concepts to our youth. He offered scholarships, an entrepreneurship club, and an after school program for Junior Achievement. Scott made it all happen. He provided the opportunity for students to visit ASU Polytechnic for the Tom’s Shoes Marketing Director’s presentation along with a campus tour. He gave the students opportunities to earn money with entrepreneur social consciousness ideas and offered to pay for an ASU Entrepreneurship Summer Camp. Furthermore, Scott gave $12,000 worth of scholarships away at an event where students pitched their business idea in a competitive setting. Besides all of this, Scott and his wife, Jan saw the potential of one of my students and that student’s life is now changed. Edward works for Scott’s new concept MAC 6 and has a full ride scholarship to ASU thanks to the McIntosh Family. After being introduced to Arizona DECA, Scott is now helping at the regional and state level with all the events associated with Entrepreneurs. He also introduced me to SCOREs (mentors that help the Small Business Association with first-hand knowledge of business plans) and two of the men are very dedicated volunteers, spending two afternoons a week in the marketing room helping students. Scott continues to touch many of my students’ lives.

My students have had the opportunity to attend and work at” Fast Pitch” the past two years. Fast Pitch is a ninety second presentation by nonprofit organizations that need additional financial support. Social Venture Partners gives money to those organizations that they feel are the most worthy. This allows my students the opportunity to see first-hand why hard work, great communications skills, focus, passion, and social consciousness are so important in today’s world.

SVP also brought Amy Armstrong and Support My Club to CBHS which is a huge benefit to our high school. This idea has allowed more students to participate in clubs and sports whom might not have been able to afford the dues or other fees necessary. Several of my students took this creative idea to DECA State Competition and won. Amy and her mom have been so supportive of the students by helping them prepare for this National Competition. They are also now volunteering on my advisory board for marketing which focuses on overall program improvement. I am also personally doing a professional learning externship this summer at Support My Club.

Furthermore, I have met two other amazing ladies, Nancy Anderson and Becky Wolf whom are raising money for “gap scholarships”. These are scholarships for the Camelback students that have earned scholarships but are $1,000-$5,000 short of the costs, and who might decide not to attend college because their families do not have the money. Nancy and Becky are selling monopoly squares. My students helped by generating some of the monopoly pieces. I also just met with them requesting a scholarship for one of my marketing students.

There are others from SVP that have not been mentioned that have greatly influenced the Marketing/DECA program at Camelback. I just know that over the past three years, this group of dedicated individuals has impacted my own and my students’ lives in ways that I did not think were possible. They made ideas, dreams, and goals become reality for so many students. SVPAZ has made me a better teacher and person. Your organization emulates your name of Social Venture Partners. You give your time and talents to make this a better place to live.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Julia Bourdo
Marketing Teacher, Camelback High School