Click on the parents' names below to read about their positive experiences with PVSchools:
If interested, you can also share your parent success story with us.
- Megan Starr,
Parent, Sonoran Sky Elementary School
We open-enrolled our son at Sonoran Sky five years ago in first grade and have been thrilled with the choice. Our only regret is that he didn't get the same fantastic SSKY kindergarten experience his younger sister had! Kids don't just have one teacher guiding them at SSKY, they have a community working with them. The teachers, staff, parents, and students all coordinate to bring out the best in each member of the community. We love how visible and "hands on" our principal is, how almost every teacher knows almost every student, the leadership role the 6th graders have, and how involved the parents are in every aspect of the school! We like that the academics here are impressive, but we LOVE that the schools helps nurture well-rounded, compassionate, and articulate young adults.
- Megan Bazinaw,
Parent, Cactus View Elementary
I have had my ups amd downs with the school and district. I am keeping my child in the school district until she is done with 6th grade then she will be moved. I don't like the unorganized parent pick up, getting information out to the parents suchs as school supplies for the next year or any information about the 6th grade trip out of state. The communication between myself amd her 5th grade teacher was amazing. I loved it. My daughter was tested into the gifted program and will be starting that in August but as a parent i feel unprepared given i have been given no information. The lack of communication is unacceptable in my eyes.
- Jennifer Martin,
Parent, Shea Middle School
My son's participation in Music Technology has been nothing less than transformative. He has become so passionate about NVAA that he refuses to miss a day of school. It is exciting to see him so ardently discover his talents and build his skills. I have also seen him mature emotionally, as he deeply appreciates his teacher's personal investment in his development as a musician. I can't recommend the program highly enough.
- Tracey Theisen,
Parent, Paradise Valley High School
My son, Connor, was lucky enough to be part of the CREST Engineering program at PVHS. His senior year he discovered Winona State University in Minnesota (the only US school to offer CME BA degree) and now he is following the path to become a Composite Materials Engineer. When we toured WSU in 2015 we walked through the Engineering Department where Connor was able to identify most of the technology as it was the same as what he had used while in the CREST program. We highly recommend CREST and PVHS!
- Robin Bernier,
My twins attended the pre-kindergarten program at Indian Bend Elementary School. While there, my twins enjoyed their teachers Mrs. Lovett and Ms. Kurinko, as well as their aides. The teachers taught them so much not just letters and numbers, but also prepare them for kindergarten and get along with others. Some of the memories include the children being able to see butterflies and the growth cycle. Learning about brushing their teeth well. And getting into the routine of what school is like. I would highly recommend the preschool program at Paradise Valley Unified School District. What an exciting time in life and an excellent time for them to learn from certified teachers. They still talk about their teachers today two years later.
- Kristen Rief,
Last year, our daughter completed the pre-kindergarten program at Copper Canyon Elementary School. She made so much progress in one year, we were amazed! It was incredible to see such an improvement in her writing, her letter and number recognition, and her phonetics. The teachers not only worked with students academically, but they also helped them grow emotionally and helped boost their confidence, so they were able to learn and succeed. This is a wonderful pre-kindergarten program and has made the transition to kindergarten a breeze.
- Joycelee Burke,
Parent of two former Horizon Graduates
I know I've thanked Principal Ihnat and others before, but, I wanted to sincerely say "Thank you" again!! We are so lucky that we have open enrollment available and I am very thankful, along with Keara ('15) and Nathan ('17), that they had the opportunity to attend PVSchools as 'out of district' students. When your young, adult children recognize the opportunities for their education and actually call to say "thanks Mom, I know it was difficult to drive us to school, etc., but, thank you so much for providing us with the ability to attend PVSchools". Like, wow!! They do understand & appreciate their opportunities! And, they are aware of the variety of stories in the news in many contexts.
So, THANK YOU and Horizon, along with Sunrise and Sonoran Sky!!
Keara ('15) is attending University of Arizona and double majoring in Engineering and Mathematics. She will graduate next spring '19. Two years ago, she applied for an internship which turned into a part-time job & full time for the summers. She is working on a research project with UofA and NASA for the Osiris-REx program. She has been offered the opportunity to continue after graduation and officially author and publish a paper! She will delay her masters and doctorate by one year.
Nathan ('17) is continuing his hockey career! Thank goodness for PVOnline and their knowledge of on-line courses and the requirements for NCAA!! Nathan is playing Junior Hockey for NAHL in Aberdeen SD as a member of the Aberdeen Wings. He recently committed to St Cloud State University with a full ride scholarship (excellent GPA & online courses from 2014-15 met the requirements)!! While he does want to complete a college degree, his ultimate goal is to play for the NHL.
I am very honored and pleased that Keara and Nathan had the opportunity to attend PVSchools! I don't ever question my decision, but often, I am reminded of the fantastic opportunity! And, more importantly, when your kids recognize and thank you for the opportunity - it means the world!!!
- Helen Calvo,
Parent of a student at the North Valley Arts Academies at PVSchools
The Visual Arts program has elevated my daughter's creativity by introducing her to various mediums. It helped her blossom into an amazing artist as she continues her artistic journey in high school. I am amazed at what she has created. The program encourages a better self esteem in the students.
I enjoyed the presentations that the Visual Arts program has done, because each of the groups contribute to the final presentation. The instructor lets the student follow their own individual creativity and supplies them with the tools and knowledge to transform their visions into works of art.
- David and Susan Zhu,
Parents, Gifted Preschool at Fireside Elementary School
If you have a bright preschooler, this is probably the best program you can find in town. Our son was working on counting numbers and letters when he started half a year ago, and he is now reading picture books alone and working on subtractions within twenty. He also learned so much about planets, presidents, human body parts, fire trucks, etc., and is already missing his teachers and classmates in the middle of the spring break. Mrs. Gmelich and Mrs. Miksta are both very loving, knowledgeable, and energetic. They share classroom pictures with us almost every week, and communicated so well with parents. We also feel very fortunate that the teachers understand the unique challenges faced by gifted children, and know how to help them grow at their own paces.
- Katy Obuchowski,
Parent, Sonoran Sky Elementary School
"You may not remember me but my son applied for and was accepted into the gifted program at Sonoran Sky. I wanted to convey to your staff including the Director of Gifted, Dr. Dina Brulles what an amazing program you are running at Sonoran Sky. I really wanted to voice our utter appreciation for finding such a program for him. Since he was very young I knew I had a job and the job may not be an easy one, making sure he had what he needed from an education perspective.
He is so happy and he just loves his class, his friends, his teacher and he loves the school. I have since moved over my other two kids. Our youngest has been accepted into the first grade self contained program and we have a fourth grader. We are all so happy and I just wanted to say ""Thank You""."
- Dr. Kaci Kramer Oldroyd,
Parent, Fireside Elementary School
We have been nothing but impressed with the gifted Preschool at Fireside! When your child is enthused and excited to go to school every single day, you know the teachers are amazing! Not only has our daughter learned an amazing amount this year, but she has blossomed socially. She has gone from a little girl who didn't really interact with other children her age to someone who is very much engaged with her peers. Mrs. Gmelich is enthusiastic, positive, kind and loving. She nurtures the kids like four and five year olds need to be nurtured. Even though the children are advanced academically, she understands that emotionally they are still small children. I could not have asked for a better introduction into the educational system!
- Casey B.,
Parent, Desert Cove Elementary School
Our two oldest children have had the privilege of participating in the Gifted Preschool program with Sara Torrilhon at Desert Cove Elementary. During their Pre-K years their abilities to read, comprehend complex social issues and scientific principles, and their overall mathematical acumen developed tenfold while maintaining a strong moral compass and thirst for knowledge. The foundations they built in the Gifted Pre-K class have been monumental in their continued success as they move on into upper grade levels. My son even told me he wishes there weren't weekends so he could go to school everyday! We are excited to have our three younger children develop the same love of learning as they go through the Gifted Preschool with Paradise Valley Schools.
- Lynsi Freitag,
Parent, Gifted Preschool
What I love about the gifted preschool program at PVSschools is that my daughter is getting all her needs met. She is being developed both as a learner and an individual. It is a loving and nurturing environment where she has not only learned how to read but how to think. She has gained knowledge, skills, and confidence, as well as great friends. It's a very special place.
- Dana Salt,
Parent, Gifted Preschool
My daughter will be completing the gifted preschool program this year. As a parent, it is just rewarding to hear my daughter tell me she loves school. It has been an amazing experience for several reasons. The gifted teachers are compassionate and motivated to teach the children every day. The teachers truly understand how to teach gifted children. Everyday my daughter comes home and tells me with enthusiasm what she has learned. I cannot believe how much my daughter has grown academically and emotionally in the program. I absolutely love this program and feel very grateful that my daughter had the opportunity to be a part of this program.
- Scott and Lauren Wessels
My son and daughter both attended the gifted preschool at Fireside Elementary. It was a wonderful experience for both of them, as they were challenged with new ideas, learning, and were able to move at a pace that was at their level. The teacher, Mrs. Gmelich, was very nurturing, knowledgeable of children with gifted needs, and was always exposing them to new ideas in a rich learning environment. They were given many opportunities to work and learn independently, as well as with guided and group lessons. They were also given many opportunities to play and be creative with art to help develop and use their imaginations. It was amazing to see how far the children progressed by being in this classroom. Their reading and writing flourished in a short period of time, and they were always so happy to go to school everyday. I would highly recommend this program to anyone whose children have needs as a gifted learner!
- Mary Grace Wargo,
My son began attending Sonoran Sky when he was in the first grade. We came from a private school and always intended to send him to a private school. My husband and I are so happy that we are at Sonoran Sky, I am so glad that I was open-minded enough to try the school. I have found that the education is much more intense than I expected and the discipline program is fantastic! My son sees the speech therapist and his progress is amazing! I always thought school was going to be a challenge and he would be behind, now he is flourishing. Sonoran Sky is a top-notch school, the teachers are extremely qualified and know how to bring out the best in my son. I am extremely thankful that our journey has lead us to the Paradise Valley School District!
- Christi Johnstone,
Parent, Desert Cove Elementary School
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for the education you have created for our daughter, Bella Johnstone, with the self contained gifted program.
As I closely watch all that is going wrong in our state when it comes to education, at the same time that we are starting transition process to kindergarten for our younger daughter with special needs (a bit terrifying in light of all of the cuts to the budget in places that kids like her have so many needs), I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what you have worked so hard to create in PVSchools for children such as Bella. You have given her a gift that will be life long, and foundation that money could not have bought at any other school.
I just wanted to let you know what a tremendous impact you have made on our family with your work. As Bella wraps up sixth grade, she walks into Desert Cove excited every single day, and Ms. Rabe could not do a better job teaching, challenging and inspiring those kids. While I struggle to think of her leaving Desert Cove, I feel confident with her moving over to the DLC, and know that her amazing education will continue, despite all of the challenges our schools and teachers face. Not only has Bella been able to work to her full potential, learn outside the box and go deep in her knowledge of topics, but she has done it in a community of her peers. I can’t imagine what life for her would be like without that true peer group. I’m so glad we have not had to find out.
Thank you for providing an education and a foundation that truly is more than we could have ever asked for. I look at my daughter, she’s happy, she loves school, she’s doing great, she’s confident, she’s in honor band and she just competed in district field day yesterday. She has had such a well rounded educational experience, which so few highly gifted children like her get to experience. THANK YOU for giving that to her with the programs you have championed and created.
- Tami A. Carpenter,
My daughters’ Journeys of Excellence in Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools) began 15 years ago in 2002 at the Lil’ Pioneers’ pre-school program. My oldest daughter, Stephanie was in the four-year-old preschool program, and my fraternal twin daughters Elizabeth and Christina participated in the toddler program at just eighteen months of age. The phenomenal programs that were offered for my youngsters included high school buddies at Pinnacle High, Spanish tutoring students, zoo visits, and early hands-on mathematical experiences in addition to a rich selection of pre-school literature being presented daily.
The fine arts programs at PVSchools are outstanding. I was very fortunate that each of my daughters played instruments from fourth to sixth grades while in elementary school: Stephanie played a variety of percussion instruments, Elizabeth played both the flute and the piccolo, and Christina played the violin. Each girl went on to play her instrument of choice for at least one year in middle school. Christina has enjoyed the band program so much that she is now a teacher aide for her band teacher. A new tradition emerged several years ago [with] the PVSchools fine arts program — an all-day showcase event comprised of musical, artistic, dramatically pieces once per year during the spring season at the Paradise Valley Mall. This year, the Sunrise Middle School Band has earned an invitation to perform a sight reading piece at Disneyland, which will possibly be used in an upcoming Disney movie soundtrack.
In the state of Arizona, The Paradise Valley Unified School District is the best pre-school through 12th grades school district to meet my daughters’ diverse social confidence-building and academic achievement needs.
- Rita Tranisi,
Parent, Grayhawk Elementary School
As a PVSchools parent, I'm thankful for science experiments in the classroom which provide my children with hands on understanding. I'm thankful that my children look forward to coming to school every day.
Share Your Parent Success Story
As a PVSchools parent or guardian, have you had a positive experience with PVSchools that you would like to share? If so, please include your brief testimonial below.