Empire High School chemistry teacher Hillary Stacey was surprised with a $1,200 donation from Steve and Diane Uhl to pay for her teaching license. 

Courtesy of the Vail School District

Gift helps put Vail teacher in classroom

Moved by a Vail teacher’s struggle to cover the cost of getting her teaching license in Arizona, an Oro Valley couple stepped forward with a check for more than $1,200.

Empire High School chemistry teacher Hillary Stacey received a surprise visit from Steve and Diane Uhl Tuesday. The Uhl’s learned about Stacey’s plight after Vail Superintendent Calvin Baker shared her story in a guest opinion piece published in the Arizona Daily Star.

Previously licensed in Montana, Stacey shared with Baker her dismay that it would cost a minimum of $1,217 in fees and tuition to convert her Montana license to a teaching license in Arizona.

After presenting the check to Stacey, the Uhl’s spoke briefly to staff at Empire about the importance and powerful impact of their work as teachers.

“The Uhl’s couldn’t fix the teacher certification problem. But they did what they could do,” Baker said. “They fixed the problem for one teacher. I hope the Uhl’s generous act inspires you as much as it did us.”

Students get National Merit scholarships

Eleven Tucson students have been named winners of college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards.

College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study.

The local winners are: Scott A. Mahan of Ironwood Ridge High School, Teresa Joy Carmichael of Sabino High School, Evan R. Cramb and Jacob G. Stockton of Canyon del Oro High School, Rebecca Beatrice Friedman Sweet of Salpointe Catholic High School, Delaney R. Halvey of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, Zachary W. Paul of Catalina Foothills High School, Emily Rumney of University High School, Luke A. Wohlford and Annika Young Zhang of Basis School, and Garrett T. Anderson of Cienega High School.

Students took the Preliminary SAT as an initial screener before approximately 16,000 semifinalists were named. The semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state.

To become finalists, students had to complete a detailed scholarship application showing an outstanding academic record and be endorsed and recommended by a high school official. They also had to take the SAT and earn scores that confirmed their performance on the initial qualifying test.

About 15,000 students were named finalists and more than half were chosen to receive National Merit scholarships.

Donations for needy TUSD students

The Educational Enrichment Foundation will be collecting donations for needy Tucson Unified School District students this week.

Items needed include school supplies, new clothing and shoes, and unopened hygiene products.

Donations may be dropped off now through Friday during regular business hours at:

  • Educational Enrichment Foundation, 3809 E. Third Street
  • Fallas/Factory-2-U, all Tucson and Nogales locations
  • Chick-Fil-A at El Con, 3605 E. Broadway
  • Jonathan’s Educational Resources, 3100 N. Stone Ave.
  • PICOR Commercial Real Estate, 1100 N. Wilmot Road, Suite 200
  • St. Mark’s
  • Presbyterian
  • Church, 3809 E. Third Street

Paulo Freire opens
new school downtown

Paulo Freire Freedom School is opening a second middle school this fall downtown that will focus on STEM education.

The school will be housed at City High School, 48 E. Pennington St., and will incorporate a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum into its project-based learning units.

The school day will be broken into three “blocks,” said co-director Santo Nicotera.

During the first block, students will work on interdisciplinary projects with a community focus; the second part of the day students will participate in math and writer’s workshops; and during the third part called Flow Lab, students will work on individualized projects with the help of a mentor or adviser.

The school will be open to sixth- and seventh-graders its first year and will add eighth grade in 2015.

There are still a few openings to enroll sixth grade students and a waiting list for seventh grade.

For more information visit paulofreireschool.org/downtown 

Compiled by reporters Alexis Huicochea and Veronica Cruz. Contact Alexis at ahuicochea@tucson.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.