The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Co., has awarded the Marana Unified School District a $20,000 grant to provide cognitive coaching training for teaching and technology coaches.

The coaches will work with teachers on a daily basis to refine and reflect on teaching practices, especially in integrating technology within the classroom, according to district Superintendent Doug Wilson.

Al Mitchell, president of the Monsanto Fund, said he believes the district’s program will encourage many young people to consider educational and career choices that combine both innovation and technology.

This year, the Monsanto Fund awarded more than $1.4 million to nonprofits through its site grant initiative to help address essential needs in rural communities.

Rialto Celebrity Spelling Bee to benefit educational fund

The Educational Enrichment Foundation is hosting its Sixth Annual Celebrity Spelling Bee on Friday at the Rialto Theatre. One local celebrity will emerge victorious, and teachers across the Tucson Unified School District will win big, as proceeds from the event benefit classroom grants from EEF to teachers for classroom supplies, school projects and other equipment.

Former TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone will emcee the event, which will include a lineup of local celebrities and movers and shakers, including the Arizona Daily Star’s own Greg Hansen and David Fitzsimmons.

EEF’s Celebrity Spelling Bee begins at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25 at The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress. Tickets are available online at and at The Rialto Theater for $20 for adults and $5 for children. Attendees are invited to the after party “spellabration” at Club Congress immediately following the event.

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Sponsors include Tucson Electric Power, the Rialto Theatre, Learning A-Z, Bookmans and Smith & Dale Philanthropic Counsel.

Basis Tucson North student wins STEAM video contest

A Basis Tucson North student took top honors in a national STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — video contest.

ThinkSTEAM, a nonprofit, put on the ThinkBIG Challenge, a video contest exclusively for girls to show the importance of STEAM.

Sofia Melnychuck won the middle school division with a three-minute video inspiring young girls to come up with life-changing solutions through STEAM. Watch her video at:

Contact reporter Hank Stephenson at or 573-4279. On Twitter: @hankdeanlight