Providing all students with an excellent education is the aspiration of most people who choose education as a profession. But, with remediation in our state being too high and postsecondary completion too low, it becomes increasingly important for us to not only dream it, but also achieve it in Arizona.

Yuma Union High School District (YUHSD) and Helios Education Foundation have launched an initiative called Ready Now Yuma that sets out to provide every student, regardless of past academic performance or post-high school aspirations, with a world-class education.  By “every student” we mean excelling students, struggling students and everyone in between.  And our shared goal, as ambitious as it may seem, is to graduate every student prepared to succeed in college and career.

Ready Now Yuma was piloted last year within the district, but the 2012/2013 academic school year will be the first for full implementation of a program designed to challenge every student, support every student and prepare every student for the opportunities that lie ahead after they cross the stage for high school graduation.  We don’t have all the answers and have much to learn over the coming years, but we believe the reforms taking place in Yuma will soon be a model for others within Arizona and across the nation to follow.

Ready Now Yuma is unique because it is multi-faceted, setting out to increase academic rigor for every student by providing a globally recognized program of study; inspire excellence in teachers and counselors through ongoing professional development and collaboration; provide additional, year-round supports for greater student success; and guide students toward their post-high school dreams by fostering a high expectations, college-going culture across all six YUHSD high schools.

Critical to the long-term success of Ready Now Yuma, YUHSD’s leadership has demonstrated a passionate commitment to the college and career-readiness of every student.  It’s one of the qualities that attracted Helios to partner with the district and invest $3.9 million in the advancement of Ready Now Yuma over the next five years.  It’s also what makes it exciting to work alongside them in our shared pursuit of excellence for all.

What makes Ready Now Yuma significant for Arizona is that Yuma Union High School students, the majority of whom are low-income and minority, will soon be leading the way to academic excellence in our state and prepared to compete with the best and brightest from across the nation and around the world.

Antonia Franco is VP & Program Director, Helios Education Foundation.

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