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Zanzucchi reflects on time as Coconino High School principal

Coconino High School (CHS) Principal Stacey Zanzucchi is retiring this year after 12 years in charge and nearly 30 years in the education industry. She has spent her entire career in schools in the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD), first in language teaching and then in leadership.

For Zanzutsch, a love of languages ​​took precedence over an interest in education. Some of her earliest memories are her family trips to Mexico (where she grew up in Southern California), where she wanted to understand what everyone was saying, she said.

“I always wanted to be able to talk to people, so I decided to learn Spanish,” she recalled.

She started learning Spanish in 7th grade, graduated high school a year early, and spent her senior year in Barcelona. She then moved to Flagstaff to attend Northern Arizona University, where she studied Spanish again.

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Her undergraduate education included studying in Guadalajara, a year at the University of Barcelona, ​​and teaching Spanish to others. It was this last part of her experience that moved her down the path of her education, and her Flagstaff “big blue sky” made her want to stay here.

Years ago, she explained why she became a teacher: “It felt natural to be able to do what I love and help enrich the lives of others on the path to becoming bilingual. I felt very lucky,” he wrote.

“I noticed [learning Spanish] It was so enriching for me and I wanted others to experience it,” she later said. “…learning a second language has been fun and enriching, but at the same time it has given me a whole new perspective and communication skills.”

She said she shifted her focus more towards education when completing her master’s degree. At that time, one of her teachers, Letty David, advised her to consider the study of bilingual multicultural education rather than Spanish literature. This is because the former can be applied more practically.

Zanzucchi then began teaching part-time at Nores Elementary School, when then-principal David McKay asked him to supplement the school’s Spanish language program. Zanzucchi said learning a second language was a state mandate at the time, and her role expanded the program from television videos that were pumped into classrooms.

She enjoyed teaching and after a few years moved on to teach Spanish at Sinagua High School and then English as a second language. There she began to build her mentorship with the encouragement of Mike Philerup, who later founded the Puente de Hozo Elementary School. He told her that students in her school’s trilingual program would need language support in high school.

The day after taking the administrative qualification exam, Mr. Zanzucki received a phone call inviting him to apply for the position of principal at Marshall Elementary School. Most of her experience was in high school, so she said that at first she was a little hesitant, but she decided to move on and eventually fell in love with her school. I was. She was offered the role and she headed Marshall for the next five years. She then moved to major CHS in her 2011 and spent the rest of her career there.

When she first joined CHS, she said her main goals were to foster collaboration and a “continuous improvement mindset.”

“From the beginning, I really wanted teachers to understand that every student has potential. I want them to understand that they should be, and so should teachers,” she said.

Zanzucchi incorporates language into her work at CHS. The school hosts quarterly Bilingual Parent Nights to connect with students’ families (schools in other districts have adopted the practice) and has launched an International Baccalaureate program in which language teaching is a key component. . One of her requirements for a student to obtain her IB Diploma is to be able to read, write and speak fluently in a second language.

But she said language education is only “a small part of Coconino.”

“It’s really broad and goes way beyond just language,” she said she learned when becoming a school leader. “It’s about really broadening your horizons and learning, being deeply committed to teaching, and having a love of learning. , really wanted someone else [to experience that]. They call it the Great Equalizer. ”

What Zanzucchi is most proud of at CHS is the availability of the IB program and Professional Learning Community (PLC), which she said is expanding to other FUSD schools. She also said she enjoyed supporting her CIT program and her CocoNuts Robotics team, which she started while in school, and her JROTC program, which she had already started at CHS.

“Collaboration under PLC’s jurisdiction has been a real North Pole for me and for the mindset of continuous improvement,” she said. She also stressed that she continues to focus on literacy. Last week, 25 of her CHS teachers completed their training to teach literacy. Several competitions will be held as part of Snow Day.

Zanzucchi said he is looking forward to spending time with his family as he retires. She has four grown children and six grandchildren, and is expecting her seventh. She intends to read, ski, play golf, and is studying French in preparation for a trip to Paris with her husband.

She said she plans to leave CHS with not just “cherished memories and relationships,” but a more tangible gift from the 2023 class: a mason jar filled with keys that were handed to her when she received her diploma. .

“I entered this profession with a dedication to teaching and learning, and to help people discover their best selves through education,” she wrote in her retirement announcement, citing CHS families, students, and colleagues. , teachers and staff. “…I will always look back with gratitude. Thank you for being part of my journey and for your continued support of CHS.”

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