Preparatory Academy Earns A+ School of Excellence Award

Creighton District school one of only 36 nationwide to receive coveted educational distinction.

Three cheers for the Biltmore Preparatory Academy community! The Creighton District school was one of 36 nationwide that received the coveted A+ School of Excellence award for 2022-2023, the highest state-level award given to public schools.

The distinction recognized the school’s innovative curriculum and focus on high achievement. The Arizona Educational Foundation, an organization that recognizes and celebrates excellence in public schools, sponsors the prestigious award, a title the school will have for four years.

With this award, schools are celebrated at a luncheon as well as the organization has a full court press, communicating the award nationwide.

To qualify, schools must complete a comprehensive application to reach the high bar the foundation sets. Biltmore Prep’s submission shared data about instructional leadership, curriculum instruction and assessment, school organization and culture, active teaching, student support, and caregiver and community involvement.

A hallmark of Biltmore Prep is its Spanish immersion program, which facilitates biliteracy by teaching content equally in both English and Spanish. Students benefit from listening, speaking, reading, and writing in both languages and receive a leg up in high school by providing language credit. The program is offered to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Parents around the Valley choose our school because they want their children to be bilingual,” says Biltmore Prep’s Principal Dr. Stephanie De Mar.

There was a lot of work that went into receiving this award. However, the real stars of the show were the students who prepared, hosted, and were campus leaders through the entire rigorous process!

The school was under the microscope for a day and a half as five judges observed classrooms, recess, lunch periods, drop-offs, and pick-ups. During the visit, student leaders Isaac Hernandez, Sophia Velasteguy, and Gia Mammini hosted the judges giving them tours of the campus, access to classrooms, staff meetings with other students, teachers, staff, and community, as well as a front row seat to morning announcements, all while answering questions along the way.

“I was nervous to be a part of such a significant thing for the school, we wanted the visit to be perfect,” says Isaac.

Students prepared for weeks leading up to the visit. The school hosted assemblies getting students and families enthusiastic and prepared for the visit.

“There was a lot of excitement at the school leading up to and during the visit. It was really cool to be seen as a leader in front of such an important group of people,” says Gia.

“This process was a really fun thing to be a part of, but most of all I really loved experiencing it with Isaac and Gia,” says Sophia.

This school year, Gia and Sophia had the opportunity to travel to Hermosillo, Mexico, as part of the Spanish Dual Language Program. The trip lasted five days immersing students in the rich, colorful culture, and language. Their description of their experiences was extremely helpful for the judges to have a real first-person account of the impact of the enrichment opportunities students are afforded.

Following notification that Biltmore Preparatory Academy did in fact receive the award, Sophia, Gia, and Isaac presented the award and prep it took leading up to the visit to the Creighton Governing Board. The students were eloquent in their description of the process and their personal experiences being elevated to a leadership role on campus. The governing board was beyond impressed with the presentation and after they took a group photo with the students and staff from Biltmore Prep.

“After this experience, I feel more confident talking in front of large groups of people. I feel like I have really grown as a leader,” says Isaac.

“We are elated to have won this distinction,” says Dr. De Mar. “I know how hard our community works and how much we invest in our students. Receiving the A+ distinction was a way to showcase our efforts to create a successful school with a great place for students to learn. I truly believe we deserve it because of our curriculum and amazing teachers who reflect a positive and supportive atmosphere.”

“The students were so AWESOME!” she continues. “When it was actually time for them to show their stuff, they did so with such professionalism, enthusiasm, and character, I’m really proud of them.”

As these student leaders end this school year and prepare for their next adventure of high school, this is an experience they will never forget.