Extra Scholarship Funds Awarded to 15 Camelback Students

The Gap Scholarship Advisory Committee this spring raised over $52,000 from 20 donors. These funds were deposited at the Arizona Community Foundation (“ACF”) into the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund.

After reviewing the gap scholarship applications, the committee awarded 15 scholarships (maximum $4,000 per student) to deserving graduating seniors. Without these extra scholarship funds, these 15 students may not have been able to make it to college since, even though they may have already received scholarships, the total cost of attendance at the schools of their choice exceeded their other scholarship awards.

ACF is managing the program for each student, calculating the exact amount of funding required, communicating with the college, and disbursing the funds over two semesters. This ACF fund was also used as the conduit for $6,500 of scholarship funding for 13 lead peer tutors for the spring semester.

Sustainability Progress

We are currently wrapping up a very successful transition of leadership at Camelback High School. For the past two months, we have worked hard as a team and community to welcome and onboard Dr. Quintin Boyce. Since that time, Dr. Boyce has had an opportunity to meet with students, staff, parents, and business partners. We have held multiple meetings and “retreats” with the admin team as a whole as well as with individual members of the admin team. Dr. Boyce is well versed in the mission, vision, and aligned initiatives at Camelback.

Dr. Boyce comes to Camelback from Bioscience High School where he has spent the last three years as principal. He shares very similar beliefs, philosophies, and approaches to educating our youth. He puts student growth and development ahead of standardized test scores. He believes school’s are responsible for developing critical thinkers and productive citizens.

Throughout the fall, Dr. Boyce will continue to meet with various stakeholders in an attempt to fully understand the culture and the initiatives at Camelback. In time, Dr. Boyce will begin to put his footprint on the community and take Camelback to the next level!

– Chad Gestson

Senior Honors and Awards Banquet

Here is a reprint of a May 8, 2014 email from Principal Chad Gestson to Camelback Faculty, Staff and Community.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended and organized last night’s banquet .. what an amazing event!

We were able to recognize approximately 75 of our top graduating seniors, many of whom had family and friends in attendance to share in their recognition. As of yesterday, Camelback exceeded $3.6 million in scholarships .. our largest total ever. To give you an idea as to our growth, here are some stats

2011 – $1.1 million
2012 – $2.6 million
2013 – $3.3 million
2014 – $3.6 million and growing daily

As you may know, last spring, we decided to transform our Senior Honors and Awards night into a formal dinner/banquet. Last year, this event took place in the 2000 Commons. We ran out of room and food. This year, we held the banquet outside on the north side of the cafeteria with seating and food for approximately 400 people. It was a huge success.

Taking a risk that we will forget someone, we’d like to recognize the following people …

Thanks to Melissa Jackson for being the lead administrator over this event.

Organization – Barbara Rhodes, Coach Carbajal, Denise Hawkins, and all counselors for their help organizing the event

Funding – Julie Bourdo, her DECA students, and our Alumni Association for helping to fund this event

Customer Service – Myra Ronan, Cindee Badalamente, and the Camelback Ambassadors for taking care of greeting and escorting visitors

Food – We’d like to thank Coach Carbajal, his students, the CBHS Football team, and PUHSD’s food services for their help in preparing, serving, and bussing

Performance – We’d like to thank Kevin Hayward for running the sound, Denise for setting up (and taking down), and Jamie Johnston and her students (mainly her Jazz Band) for taking care of the performances

Set up and take down – We’d also like to thank Ian White, his crew, and (once again) the CBHS Football team for taking ownership of set up and take down

Childcare – We’d also like to thank Loretha Redpath and her childcare students for taking the lead on providing childcare

I’d also like to thank the 20-30 faculty members who stayed to present and recognize our seniors.

Happy Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week!

United Way provides mentors at CBHS

Michelle Gayles, Vice President for Community Impact at the Valley of the Sun United Way, provided a write up of its new mentoring program at Camelback High School.

Valley of the Sun United Way’s Destination Graduation program is active in seven schools in the Phoenix area, including Camelback High School and serves students in 6-9th grades. The Destination Graduation program provides personal and customized interventions through Job for Arizona’s Graduates (JAG) coaches at the first signs students are falling behind. Additionally, United Way recruits volunteers to serve as mentors for students to help build knowledge and confidence to overcome any obstacles that could prevent them from succeeding in school.

There are several ways you can support our efforts to increase high school graduation rates.

  • GIVE:  Your donations empower us ensure programs like Destination Graduation are available to help students succeed.
  • VOLUNTEER: Become a Destination Graduation mentor and work directly with young people to prepare them for their future.
  • ADVOCATE:  Be a voice for youth in our community and find ways to get involved at your local school.

Scholarships Wall

scholarship wall

This is a photo of a wall in the admin offices where each graduating senior’s scholarships earned are announced and honored with the total amount of this year’s scholarships shown at top.

Camelback High School Career Fairs

Camelback High School, with the assistance of Social Venture Partners and local Rotary members, hosted two successful career fairs.

A variety of guest speakers were recruited from varying occupations. Plumbers, doctors, social workers, paralegals, entrepreneurs, and engineers were just a few of the career representatives who came to speak.  The speakers were grouped into panels with similar professions being grouped together.

Students had the opportunity to select three panels to interact with during the event. The students rotated through presentations and had the chance to ask questions during each panel.

This events allowed students to explore and become aware of various career paths.

Camelback High School: Truly Transformed

This is a guest post by Joseph H. Silver, Sr, Managing Partner, Silver & Associates

Silver & Associates was engaged by Social Venture Partners to better understand the changes at Camelback High School and to determine the sustainability of  the positive changes that have occurred. Our team conducted on-site interviews with the community leaders, the faculty, staff, the principal, the superintendent, and Social Venture Partners to gauge their knowledge and perception of the changes at Camelback High School. A survey was administered as a means of corroborating the information shared during the interviews.

Silver & Associates concluded that Camelback High School has “transformed from a failed school to a school of promise.” This transformation has been lead by the principal, an empowered teaching corp and external community support led by Social Venture Partners. Two of the hallmark activities at Camelback High School are the peer mentoring programs and the community mentoring dinners. Peer tutors have acquired a status at the institution that rivals that usually reserved for star athletes. The community mentoring dinners link a significant community leader with a group of students and they share their experiences over dinner at a fine dining restaurant.  These are but two programs that have had a positive impact on the positive changes at Camelback High School.

The question that should be asked is what sets this turn around apart from attempts at transformation at other schools. The answer may rest in the fact that the principal chose to focus on the environment for learning, the culture of the school and elevating the worth of each student. While improving test scores was important, students had to feel safe in order to come to school to learn. The hope was that if the environment for learning could be made positve and if a culture of excellence could replace a culture of failure, then learning could take place and test scores would improve. In the final analysis, this approach has proven to be the “magic wand” at Camelback High. Test scores have gone up and the environment is safe. We at Silver & Associates do believe that the change is sustainable.

Advisory Committee Scholarship Update – February 2014

SVPAZ and its friends involved with the Camelback High School turnaround effort have established an Advisory Committee to raise funds for gap scholarships for CBHS 2014 graduates.

These funds will be placed at the Arizona Community Foundation in the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund.

Graduating seniors at CBHS may apply for these funds via the general ACF online scholarship application.

This Advisory Group will also select which of the qualified applicants will receive gap scholarship funds via a two-step process including an online scoring of the applicants and interviews with the highest scoring applicants. The selection process is set forth in more detail below:

Definition of Target Audience/Mission Statement

  • The goal of the Camelback High School Scholarship Fund is to identify students that have the ability to enroll and succeed in a postsecondary environment but are lacking the financial aid to permit them to attend.
  • Qualities that are highly desired are: motivation to succeed (demonstrated by grades, application for schools/scholarships), persistence in times of failure or hardship.

Camelback High School Scholarship Fund

The Camelback High School Scholarship is a “last dollar” or “gap” scholarship that will help graduates attend any type of post-secondary school anywhere in the world.

General information regarding 2014 ACF Scholarships

  • Each student will complete only one online general application to apply for a gap scholarships specific to Camelback High School students and 75+ other scholarships for Arizona students.
  • Awards available for all types of schools, in state and out of state, 2 year, 4 year, vocational & technical schools, in all majors and fields of study.
  • No minimum GPA required.
  • No U.S. citizenship required.
  • First deadline is March 28th – complete your application by March 28th to apply for all the awards.
  • Spend quality time on your essay and have someone read and help you edit.
  • Confirm two references that will submit on your behalf and follow up with them to make sure they have completed the online reference request. We recommend teachers, counselors, coaches, employers or community service related references. Do not use a family member or friend.
  • If you have questions about the application or need help submitting information please email scholarship@azfoundation.org or call 602-381-1400.

Camelback High School Scholarship Proposed Criteria and Rubric:

Minimum Application Criteria:

  • Student must be graduating from at Camelback High School.
  • Student must demonstrate financial need, as determined by the FAFSA and the financial aid letter from the school/college.
  • Student must be accepted and enroll full time in the summer or fall following graduation.

Criteria for Scoring: Each rubric is customized by point value and weight as follows:

  1. Academic Ability/Success at the College level (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Does the student demonstrate the ability to succeed at the postsecondary level?
  2. Essay(Point range 1-5, weight = 2, double points for this category)
    • Does the student sufficiently answer the question and provide adequate information to the reader to justify receiving a scholarship?
  3. Motivation (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Does the student demonstrate adequate motivation to succeed?
  4. References (Point range 1-5, weight = 1)
    • Do the references submitted support the student’s desire to advance to college?

Additional Criteria to consider at the time of Interview:

Financial Need

a. Does the student demonstrate need? (ACF will guide on this and provide hard numbers to consider);

b. Does the need fit the award level appropriate for this award? (Only pertinent if there is a cap set.);

c. Will this student be able to attend college without this support?

Interview qualities

a. Does the student exhibit strong motivation to receive this award?

b. Did the student apply for other scholarships?

c. Does the student represent the target audience for this award?

Camelback High School Gap Scholarship timeline:

  • April 25th, 2014 – Student Application Deadline
  • May 2st – May 12th, 2014 – Application Review Online – Committee members notified by email by ACF
  • May 12th at 10:00am – Reviews complete, scores submitted by committee members, ACF staff will compile results and share with committee chair (Chad Gestson)
  • May 12th-May 14th, 2014 – Students will be scheduled/confirmed for interviews
  • May 15th, 2014 1pm-4pm – Interviews @ Camelback HS
  • May 16th, 2014 – Award notifications made by phone/email to students

Q&A with Dr. Chad Gestson

Since this website is a case study, we are attempting to tease out of those directly involved in the program at CBHS more information as to how they proceeded in various parts of the project as well as keeping up to date as the programs evolve. Here are Dr. Gestson’s recent responses to four questions about the programs there.

1. On how Dr. Gestson initially aligned the CBHS staff to his vision:

This was a long process that really begins with focusing NOT on buy-in but rather more on empowerment and ownership. Leaders often seek buy-in from their employees – leaders create grand visions and initiatives and then spend time lobbying and politicking their way toward sufficient buy-in. I choose to let our employees help develop the mission, vision, and initiatives. They determine needs and direction of the organization. Then, as a result, they “own” the vision. Their commitment to the vision goes far beyond buy-in. They feel vested in making sure that the mission and vision is realized.

At Camelback, we took months (actually, over a year) creating the mission and vision for Camelback. We started by identifying all of our challenges. We analyzed our data (attendance, achievement, etc.). We then spent months studying research, visiting exemplary schools, and trying to find common links between highly effective schools. We then spent months connecting what we learned from the research and the visits to what our challenges were. We started to flesh out some real possible solutions to our challenges. Then, we began to finalize what our plan would be to address those challenges. Advisory is probably the best example of this. We realized that one of our biggest issues was a largely disconnected student body. Students were anonymous. No adults on campus were responsible for tracking the success (or failure) of students. So, after a lot of work and planning, we implemented an Advisory period to banish anonymity. For the past four years, Advisory has truly been the key vehicle for change at Camelback.

2. On the latest changes to Peer Tutoring program:

peer tutoringTutors at Camelback HS are morphing to mentors.

The Success Is Mandatory tutoring program is evolving into a mentoring program as well with the tutors also being tasked as mentors to the incoming freshmen. Mentors meet with their mentees each week to ensure they are on track in several ways as indicated on this form they fill out at each meeting.

Mentee Weekly Tracking Form (.pdf)

3. On academic rigor improvement efforts:

Increasing academic rigor this year has been successful. It is a work-in-progress and will take a few years to get to the level that we all want. We divided our campus into three large “learning teams.” The teams are:

  • Humanities (English, World Language, Linguistics, Reading, Social Studies),
  • STEM (Science, Business/Technology, GEARS/Engineering, Math) and
  • Kinetic (PE, Health, JROTC, Performing Arts, Fine Arts, Family and Consumer Sciences)

Each team chose their own instructional initiative. They determined their

  • timeline for implementation,
  • need for professional development,
  • accountability structures and
  • measures of success.

At this point the Humanities team is far beyond the other teams. They have already moved onto phase 2 of their plan. The STEM team has made excellent progress but is still on phase 1. Kinetic is still struggling with implementation and is having another training next Saturday to assist with implementation.

4. On tracking the college outcomes for the 2013 gap scholarship recipients:

As of their 2nd semester of their freshman year, we have confirmed that all gap students are enrolled in school and doing well academically, aside from one student. We have not been able to contact one student who enrolled in a community college in central Arizona to play basketball. We continue to try to make contact with this student. Interestingly, to date only two students have asked for the funds for their second semester tuition scholarships. Likely, this is because they have not received notification from their schools that their tuition is due in full. As we have found out with other students, universities often start reminding students of their full tuition payment deadlines a month or so into the semester.