Milken Educator Award Winner Calls Teaching ‘Work of the Soul’

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In a surprise announcement held during a school assembly on Oct. 24, the Milken Family Foundation presented the Milken Educator Award to Sunrise Mountain High School teacher Ben Nguyen, an Ivy League graduate.

The Milken Educator Awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching,” provide recognition and financial awards of $25,000 each to educators across the nation who are furthering excellence in education.

Read the announcement from the Milken Family Foundation, which dubs Nguyen a “Robotics Whisperer.”

Watch Nguyen’s remarks after learning he won the Milken Educator Award.

Also take a look at The Nevada Independent’s story, “Sunrise Mountain educator wins national award, calls teaching ‘work of the soul.’ ”

Only 40 educators each year are selected for the Milken Educator Award. Nevada had two recipients this year, the other being Nicolas Jacques, a middle school teacher in Carson City.

Heart of Education Awards Nominations Now Being Accepted

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Do you know a local teacher who stands above the rest — someone who goes above and beyond to put students first? If so, nominate an outstanding teacher today for the Heart of Education Awards! The Smith Center opened the nomination period for its 2020 Heart of Education Awards, designed to recognize exceptional local educators. With support from program sponsor The Rogers Foundation, hundreds of nominated educators will be honored at an invitation-only event in April 2020 at The Smith Center. For more information, visit

‘Be an Upstander’: CCSD Kicks Off Week of Respect

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Clark County School District (CCSD) stands strong against bullying and cyberbullying – and reaffirms its yearlong commitment to enhancing a safe and respectful learning environment during the Week of Respect. This year the Week of Respect is Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, and CCSD’s theme is “Be an Upstander.”

“The Week of Respect’s activities are designed to inspire CCSD students, employees and the entire community as they work together toward a common goal – which includes respect, inclusion, and good citizenship,” says Brandon Moeller, Director of CCSD’s Equity and Diversity Education Department.

Each day of the week has the following themes:

  • Monday, Sept. 30 – Celebrate Diversity Day
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1 – Respect Diversity Day
  • Wednesday, Oct. 2 – Respect Each Other Day
  • Thursday, Oct. 3 – Respect Your School Day
  • Friday, Oct. 4 – “Get Your Blue On” Day

During the week, myriad activities will be planned each day at CCSD schools, including respect-oriented morning announcements, essays/poems that honor diversity, “meet a new friend” events, creation of artwork that celebrates respect, and much more.

Week of Respect culminates Friday with the “Get Your Blue On” campaign. CCSD encourages everyone to wear blue and share photos on social media using the hashtag #CCSDGetYourBlueOn. Tag @ClarkCountySch and @EDE4CCSD in your tweets.



Transportation Department to Host Job Fair on Saturday, October 5th

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Interested in becoming a bus driver for CCSD? The CCSD Transportation Department will host a job fair on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 8 a.m. to noon at 4499 S. Arville Yard, Las Vegas.

As part of the event, applicants can apply onsite and they will have the opportunity to talk with current drivers about their duties. Applicants will also have the opportunity to ride in a bus around the yard to get a feel for what it is like to be a bus driver.

Bus drivers earn $15.30 per hour. CCSD provides paid training and assistance in obtaining the proper license. You an apply online as a bus driver trainee at or call 702.799.5427 for more information.

Giant Mars Maps to Educate the Next Generation of Explorers

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Clark County School District (CCSD) students from Kermit R. Booker Innovative Elementary School and Jan Jones Blackhurst Elementary school participated in an interactive presentation on Giant Mars Maps™ led by Aldrin Family Foundation’s (AFF) ShareSpace Education Executive Director Jim Christensen. The presentations were held at two of the 19 schools that will receive the 25 feet by 25 feet vinyl maps of the planet Mars as part of the AFF Giant Mars Maps™ education package.

Following a brief introduction by AFF President Andy Aldrin, CCSD Board of School Trustees members and Superintendent Jesus F. Jara, CCSD students listened and interacted with Christensen as he provided students with information on the characteristics of Mars, including the distance of Earth to Mars, the topography of the Red Planet and what traveling to Mars will look like in the future.

“Giant Mars Maps are a means for sparking creativity in kids while they sit, stand, walk, play and learn together,” said Dr. Andrew Aldrin, president of AFF. “Our aim is to put maps into the hands of schools where we think they can do the most good, especially in underserved communities. Our goal is to ensure all kids get the chance to be exposed to STEAM using the excitement of space exploration and we are proud to now expand our reach to Las Vegas by partnering with Clark County School District.”

“Community partnerships are vital for our Focus: 2024 strategic plan goal of ensuring all CCSD students are receiving an education that prepares them for the future,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara. “The Aldrin Family Foundation’s Giant Mars Maps™ and educational components will provide our educators an additional avenue to grow instruction and educational experiences in the district.”

Along with the 19 Giant Mars Maps that will be donated to CCSD schools, the partnership between CCSD, The Public Education Foundation, Desert Research Institute (DRI) and AFF will help with the creation of four traveling Giant Mars Maps™ green boxes. The DRI will house the green boxes and can be used by schools throughout the district.

“The Public Education Foundation is proud to be a leading partner with the Clark County School District, Desert Research Institute, and the Aldrin Family Foundation in strengthening STEAM education, through the magic of space exploration, within our public school classrooms,” said Judi Steele, President and CEO of The Public Education Foundation.

To view high resolution images from today’s event, click here.

To learn more about the Clark County School District, visit

About the Aldrin Family Foundation

The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEAM-based educational tools, curriculum and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians.

About ShareSpace Education

ShareSpace Education, one of the key organizations within the Aldrin Family Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating children’s passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) by providing innovative, interactive educational tools to schools, teachers and information education throughout the United States and abroad. Founded in 2016 by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, ShareSpace has reached more than 300,000 children and continues to grow its impact each year.

About The Public Education Foundation

The Public Education Foundation was founded almost 30 years ago by leaders from the public and private sectors who believed that improving our public schools was too big a task for a school district to take on alone. At any given moment, thousands of Nevada’s children, families, and educators are benefiting from resources that The Foundation has strategically invested in schools, classrooms, and communities. Our flagship programs include: leadership academies for high-achieving teachers and administrators; a collaboration with the community to award more than $2.5 million in scholarships each year; an innovative family engagement program that coaches parents how to support their children in school and also how to find employment in the community; and, the Teacher EXCHANGE, which provides much-needed school supplies and materials to teachers. Over the years, we have supported educators and pushed the system to ensure our students succeed not only in the classroom, but also in life.

For more information about The Foundation, please visit Follow us on Facebook @ThePublicEducationFoundation and Twitter @ThePEFtoday

Two CCSD Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools

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Two Clark County School District (CCSD) schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools in the Exemplary High Performing Schools Category by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) today. The CCSD schools honored are Advanced Technologies Academy (A-TECH) and Charles and Phyllis Frias Elementary School. Only three schools in Nevada were selected for this national honor this year.

The coveted National Blue Ribbon School awards affirm the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

“We are extremely proud of our two schools being honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara. “Advanced Technologies Academy and Charles and Phyllis Frias Elementary School prove yet again that CCSD is quickly becoming the #1 choice for parents and students to receive a rich and rigorous education in Clark County. This is a true testament to the hard work of our teachers, support professionals, administrators and students. Congratulations to them for achieving this tremendous recognition.”

The award is based on the individual school’s overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. This year, the DOE selected 362 public and private schools nationwide as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2019.

The schools will be recognized by the DOE during a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November.

CCSD Mariachi Students Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

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CCSD and the Las Vegas Clark County Library District celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with talented middle and high school mariachi musicians. Students will perform at Viva el Mariachi Concert on Friday, Oct. 4 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas.

Band scheduled to perform:

-Las Vegas High School Mariachi Joya

-K.O. Knudson Academy of Creative Arts & Technology Mariachi Los Pumas

-Monaco Middle School Mariachi Los Gavilanes

With special guests, Sunrise Mountain High School Ballet Folklorico Alborada

This event is free and open to the public. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 702.507.3459.

Star Rankings Released for CCSD Schools

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The Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees and Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara celebrated the attainment of 4-star and 5-star ratings for 98 CCSD schools on the 2019 Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF) released by the Nevada Department of Education.

CCSD Board of Trustees President Lola Brooks congratulated the 44 five-star schools, 54 four-star schools, and 86 schools that increased at least one star from the 2018 results.

“Our schools continue to show improvement throughout CCSD. Today, we want to celebrate the many educators who are focusing on student success to deliver high-quality instruction,” said Trustee Brooks. “I’m extremely proud of our students, teachers, support professionals and administrators for their hard work.”

Additionally, all of CCSD’s career and technical academies, as well as CCSD’s College of Southern Nevada High Schools, achieved a five-star rating.

Student success is CCSD’s core business and our star ratings continue to highlight our individual school successes, while also showcasing opportunities for growth,” said Superintendent Jara. “I want to congratulate our classroom teachers, licensed educators, principals, support professionals and administrators for their commitment to our children.”


  • In 2019, a total of 98 CCSD schools were rated at the four or five-star levels.
  • In 2019, a total of 86 CCSD schools increased their star rating:
    • 56 elementary schools increased their star rating
    • 22 middle schools increased their star rating
    • 8 high schools increased their star rating

Schools with exemplary results include:

  • From two to five-stars – Vincent L. Triggs Elementary School.
  • From three to five-stars – Lawrence and Heidi Canarelli Middle School, Jack and Terry Mannion Middle School, Elton M. Garrett Junior High School, Walter Johnson Junior High School Academy of International Studies, Lois and Jerry Tarkanian Middle School, Grant Bowler Elementary School, and Elise L. Wolff Elementary School.
  • From two to four-stars – Charlotte Hill Elementary School, Roger M. Bryan Elementary School, Joseph M. Neal Elementary School, Harriet Treem Elementary School, and Odyssey Charter School.

The District will continue working to maintain achievements and address needed improvements.

“CCSD remains committed to having all schools be at three stars or higher by 2024,” said Superintendent Jara. “The District’s five-year strategic plan, Focus: 2024, works to ensure equity and access to a rich and rigorous education for all students. We are celebrating our achievements, and will continue to support our classroom teachers and principals to reach our goals and continue to put kids first.”


The NSPF is an accountability system in which public schools in Nevada are issued an annual index score and star rating based on the school’s performance on various measures over the prior school year. Schools are assigned an overall star rating of one to five stars, relative to total points earned, with total index points possible between 1 and 100.

Information on how schools receive points within each measure of the NSPF is located in the School Rating Report on

Zappos’ Terrific Partnership with CCSD

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Zappos recently unveiled its seventh school closet in its Closets for Good program, the locally focused charitable initiative in collaboration with Closets Las Vegas and Born This Way FoundationSuperintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara was on hand to commemorate the closet ribbon cutting.

Closets for Good works with local elementary, middle, and high schools — whose students and their families may face economic challenges — by stocking each campus’ closet with everyday necessities, including nonperishable food, school supplies, hygiene products, shoes, and clothing.

The latest beneficiary at the Clark County School District is Jerome D. Mack Middle School, which debuted its closet last week. Mack Middle School is one of eight schools that is part of CCSD’s Innovative Schools Pilot Program, which offers incentives to experienced teachers committed to building a positive culture and increasing student achievement.

Roxanne James, the principal of Mack Middle School, says she is “very happy to be partnered with Zappos and all of our community members who really come together to help our kids.” James notes that food insecurities and clothing insecurities are a reality for many students. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s not just about math or English,” she says.

“The idea for Closets for Good came about after participating in the CCSD School-Community Partnership Program at Rundle Elementary School, where I had the honor of being Principal for a Day,” says Marcela Gutierrez, head of Closets for Good, Zappos.

“It was an eye-opening experience, being exposed to the basic needs kids are worrying about on a day-to-day basis – everything from where their next meal is coming from to whether there are toiletries in the house,” Gutierrez says. “At Zappos, we highly prioritize our community and feel it’s especially important to empower our youth. With the Closets for Good program and our valued partners, we’re able to help set them up for success.”

Along with Zappos, Closets Las Vegas, and Born This Way Foundation, other participating partners include CCSD’s School-Community Partnership Program and The Public Education Foundation.

The goal is to donate up to 11 closets by the end of the year. Each closet is tailored to the needs of the school. Closets opened so far include J. Harold Brinley Middle School, Eldorado High School, Jerome D. Mack Middle School, Mojave High School, Richard J. Rundle Elementary School, Sandy Valley Schools, and Marvin M. Sedway Middle School.

The next closet will be unveiled Sept. 26 at Howard E. Hollingsworth Elementary School, marking the eighth one of the program.

Click here to watch a story about this exciting program that Channel 13 broadcast in March.

If you would like to partner with CCSD, contact the School-Community Partnership Program at 702-799-6560.