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County STEM program set to launch in local elementary schools
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County STEM program set to launch in local elementary schools

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The STEMAZing/SARSEF Elementary Edison Robotics Pilot in fourth and fifth grade classrooms is set to start in Amphitheater, Marana and Tucson Unified school districts.

A partnership between the STEMAZing Project at the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office and northwest Realtor Lisa Bayless from Long Realty, includes more than 500 Edison robots, classroom sets of robot books and supporting supplies along with two days of professional development for teachers.

Participating teachers will work with Sherrie Dennis, SARSEF manager of STEM Curriculum and Instruction, and DaNel Hogan, director of The STEMAZing Project, to integrate robotics, computer programming and engineering across subject areas from language arts to social studies, math and more.

The project also aims to connect diverse classrooms to share engineering design solutions using robots and prototyping solutions to problems students identify, a news release said.

Bayless invested more than $25,000 into the project as part of her Community First Program, having a significant impact on the six elementary schools and 20 teachers that have chosen to participate, a news release said.

Participating schools include Amphitheater’s Copper Creek Elementary, Donaldson Elementary, Harelson Elementary and Innovation Academy, as well as Marana’s Dove Mountain CSTEM K8 and TUSD’s Oyama Elementary.

TUSD teacher is honored

A Tucson Unified teacher is the recipient of the 2021 Pima County Legendary Teacher Award.

Dulce Balaban, a fourth grade teacher at Hollinger K8, meets the diverse learning needs of her students and inspires them to become the best versions of themselves, said Assistant Principal Marisela Campillo.

“She sets high expectations for not only academic growth but also expects students to develop skills such as empathy and compassion,” Campillo said. “She teaches students to respond to the needs of others. Her focus on creating a classroom of respect and empathy helps her students not only personally succeed but also contribute to the betterment of society.”

Vail teacher receives award

A Copper Ridge Elementary teacher is the recipient of Tucson Values Teachers’ September Teacher Excellence Award

Second grade teacher Kristin Powell, currently in her third year of teaching in the Vail Unified School District, previously won the district’s Rookie of the Year Award.

“Kristin goes above and beyond to advocate for her students and is already helping all her students achieve academic excellence,” said Shelly Pray, a colleague who nominated Powell. “Her ability to manage a classroom, smoothing transitions and keeping all students engaged, is what truly sets her apart.”

Tucson Values Teachers spotlights quality Southern Arizona teachers every month. Teachers are nominated through Tucson Values Teachers’ website by colleagues, students, friends and other community members. Winners of the Teacher Excellence Award receive $250 cash courtesy of Helios Education Foundation, a $100 gift card for classroom materials and flowers.

For more information or to nominate a teacher go to

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at or 573-4223. On Twitter: @DanyelleKhmara

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