Best in Class: Vista College Preparatory — Hadley

The Vista College Preparatory Hadley campus maintains high expectations for students in an effort to prepare them for future endeavors despite the challenges they may face.

The Vista College Preparatory (VCP) Hadley campus serves about 330 students, referred to as scholars, in Kindergarten through fifth grade and is located in south downtown Phoenix.

Last year, the VCP-Hadley campus received the National Blue Ribbon School Award from the U.S. Department of Education. The award recognizes schools that excel in high performance and progress in closing the achievement gap.

“It celebrates the work of our teachers and scholars and their families, the work they do every single day,” said Roxanne Zamora, VCP-Hadley principal. “It is truly a point of reflection for us where we think about how all the things we are doing are actually helping our scholars to succeed.”.

Students are challenged throughout the school year, but the VCP-Hadley campus works to ensure students don’t suffer from ‘the summer slide’ when school is out.

To prevent students from taking a few steps back academically by the time they return to school in the fall, Zamora explains that students must complete two pages of homework every day throughout the summer, including weekends.

“On top of the homework, we also send home novels and different texts based on the scholars reading levels and based on the grade level they’re about to enter so they can keep practicing some of the skills they learned over the course of the previous years and put into effect while they read those books,” Zamora said.

More than 90 percent of the students at the VCP-Hadley campus are eligible for free and reduced lunch and identify as a minority.

To successfully address the unique needs of students from low-income households and minority backgrounds, VCP-Hadley students are often split into small groups for lessons so they can be evaluated closely.

“Our teachers are deeply involved with the data that they’re getting and receiving from each of those lessons and that also helps them accurately meet the needs where they’re at,” Zamora said.

The student populations at VCP’s Maryvale campus and its middle school also include more than 90 percent minority populations that are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

“When Vista College Prep was founded in 2013, we set out to create a school model that ensured that demographics do not determine destiny. So, our goal is that the students have access to a high-quality education and we believe that all students can achieve as long as they have access to that high-quality education,” said Julia Meyerson, VCP founder and director.

VCP works to ensure its middle school students are on the path to a postsecondary education no matter the hurdles they may face on their way.

Teachers do this through preparing students for Advanced Placement courses in high school and provide advanced literature.

“In literature for us, we’ve done a lot to ensure that our scholars are reading complex and rigorous text in every grade level in middle school to make sure that they’re accessing text that other students across Phoenix, across the state and across the country are accessing,” said Kathryn Pegram, VCP middle school principal.

Each VCP campus prioritizes hiring and retaining talented teachers and staff who give the students the education and preparation they deserve.

“We truly work hard every single day to ensure every single child that walks into our building is getting the best education possible. We do work so hard to hire the best of the best as far as teachers and staff go,” said Sarah Mertz, VCP-Maryvale principal.

She added, “We also work incredibly hard to train them, keep them in our schools and support them.”

Sierra Ciaramella

Nick Serpa

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