SMUSD Shout Out!

January 2021 Newsletter

Big picture
Big picture

A Note From the Superintendent

Dear Saddle Mountain Unified School District Families,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season that this finds you and your family in good health. While 2020 has been a very difficult year, I am hopeful that 2021 will be a better year! We continue to be so appreciative of your ongoing flexibility and support during these challenging times.

The health and safety of our staff and students remain our highest priority. Our decisions are driven by health metrics that are being reported weekly by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). Click here to see Maricopa County's most recent progress report. I meet weekly with County health officials and have had several conversations with their epidemiologist about our metrics. When metrics worsened and staff absenteeism became critically high, we reverted back to Remote Learning and will start 2021 in Remote Learning, with plans to return to In-Person Learning starting January 19th, provided health metrics support doing so.

Construction projects at Tonopah Valley High School are making great progress (see new photos in this newsletter), with walls growing on the new classroom building and cafeteria addition. We finally received permits for the Winters’ Well projects and will get construction started soon. Design work continues for the new elementary school in Tartesso and is on schedule for construction to begin in June 2021.

As always, we are humbled by your support. Please follow me on Twitter (@SaddleMtUSDSupt) and check out our Facebook page for updates and information about District happenings. Thank you for choosing Saddle Mountain Unified School District!


Dr. Paul Tighe


Big picture
Big picture

SMUSD Receives $17K To Support School Meal Program

Saddle Mountain Unified School District (SMUSD) has been awarded $17 thousand from the national No Kid Hungry Campaign. The No Kid Hungry School Nutrition Grant Opportunity will provide funding to school districts to enable districts and schools to maximize the child nutrition programs and other emergency food programs and resources to ensure children and families have access to healthy meals at school and at home.

Since the start of the pandemic, SMUSD has served more than 314,000 meals to students. More than 2,400 students are currently enrolled in the District. These unprecedented school closures have had a major impact on school nutrition programs as well as their budgets. The District is paying close attention to food product usage as well using as many avenues as possible to utilize food as needed in the community. Meals are made available to students or their families seven days per week, including in bulk if needed to avoid issues with work schedules or transportation.

Because the department has had to evolve with the needs of the last several months, including tripling meal offerings, new and updated equipment is needed. New kitchen equipment including warming bags and units will be added to assist with meeting the needs of the District. New ovens will help in preparing meals in a timely fashion and funding for grab-and-go carts was requested to move prepared meals for pick up.

SMUSD Superintendent Dr. Paul Tighe commended Director of Food Services Dorothy Hernandez, noting “Mrs. Hernandez and her team have done outstanding work during the pandemic, serving so many meals, even in blistering heat, to ensure our children are well nourished. Her diligence in applying for and successfully receiving this grant will further enhance our ability to feed children.”

About the Funder: The No Kid Hungry School Nutrition Grant Opportunity will provide funding to school districts to enable districts and schools to maximize the child nutrition programs and other emergency food programs and resources to ensure children and families have access to healthy meals at school and at home. No Kid Hungry knows that school districts play an essential role in ensuring students receive nutritious meals to learn, grow and thrive to reach their full potential. These flexible grants will allow school districts across the country to respond to the growing needs and emerging opportunities to provide meals and resources to kids and families. Find out more at

Construction Continues at Tonopah Valley High School!

This past month the construction saw lots of progress on the office remodel, cafeteria building and new classroom building. We're really looking forward to seeing students and staff in these new buildings, hopefully sometime within 2021.

Making Resolutions As A Family

Start by talking about some of the goals you want to set for yourself. Maybe it’s running a half-marathon or eating healthier or anything else you want to accomplish. Ask for your kids’ help coming up with actionable steps and strategies to measure your progress. It’ll make them feel super important and will get them excited about the goal-setting process.

Let that lead you into a discussion about resolutions in general and why they’re important. Then start brainstorming a few kid-friendly resolutions that they can accomplish themselves or that you can work together as a family to tackle.

The key here is to let them have a say. Kids (like adults) are much more likely to stick to something when they feel it was their choice. So ask them if there’s anything they’d like to work on over the coming year.

From learning to do a handstand to riding a bike without training wheels or becoming a soccer player, kids will come up with a bunch of awesome resolutions all on their own. And it’ll be a whole lot easier to get them excited about all the little steps along the way when it was their idea.

That doesn’t mean you can’t guide them, though. If there’s something you think they should work on, like their reading skills or helping around the house more, go ahead and suggest it. But keep things light and positive and frame it as a tangible task. (Pro tip: Make ample use of stickers and stars and other small rewards to track progress.)

Last, make sure you’re setting a good example by following through on your resolutions. Keep your kids involved and in the loop about how you’re doing, and ask them to help hold you accountable. Seeing you accomplish your goals will get them even more excited about accomplishing their own.

Kid-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions

For inspiration, here are some ideas for kid-specific resolutions you can help your child achieve:

  • I will try at least seven bites of one new food a week. Great for picky eaters. Get them involved in choosing which new food to try and how it should be prepared for the best results.

  • I will do yoga (or tennis, karate, ice skating, etc.) with Mom or Dad every Saturday. You’ll accomplish so many things at once: getting exercise, learning a new skill and spending quality time together!

  • I will set the table or put the dishes in the dishwasher each night for dinner. Establishing some small chores for your kids will encourage them to help around the house in small ways, and they’ll love feeling like they’re helping each night.

  • I will read for 30 minutes with Mom or Dad every night. A small, completely doable goal that will make sweet memories and may even spark a lifetime love of reading.

Resolutions for Parents

  • We will carve out quality “parents-only” time once a week. Whether it’s an hour or two snuggled up watching a favorite show together after the kids have gone to bed or a date night out, quality time with your partner is a must for a healthy, happy relationship.

  • We’ll practice weekly self-care. Spend time doing something just for you, whether that’s planning a monthly girls or guys night, scheduling time at the gym, a spa day, or anything else that helps you recharge.

  • We will prioritize sleep. We know this isn’t easy when you have little ones, but it’s hard to show up and be present in life when you’re sleep-deprived. Make it a point to introduce some small steps that help create better sleep habits overall.

Resolution Ideas for the Whole Family

  • We will go on at least one family adventure per week. These don’t have to be elaborate. A morning spent playing in the snow, an afternoon nature walk, or a trip to a museum are all wonderful and short adventures that can easily fit into an otherwise busy schedule.

  • We will spend one day a month completely “unplugged.” Too much screen time is a problem for kids and adults alike. Scheduling one unplugged day a month is a great way to encourage everyone to put down the tablets and phones, shut off the TV, and refocus on what’s truly important.

  • We will sit down for family dinner every Sunday. With work, school, after-school activities and other family obligations, gathering everyone together and spending time as a family can be difficult. So why not pick one night a week where everyone sits down to eat a meal together?

  • We will experiment more in the kitchen. The possibilities are endless, from discovering the best muffin recipe to finding new ways to incorporate healthy ingredients or sampling a new cuisine or dish each week. Just make sure you choose something specific and doable.

It can be hard to keep up with New Year’s resolutions. But there’s no better way to say hello to a new year than to do a little goal-setting with your family. It builds excitement for what’s to come and gets kids looking onward and upward. Plus, it helps teach them the art of committing to something and following it through to the end.

But be kind to yourself and your kids: don’t expect perfection every day or even every week. Remember that a little progress goes a long way. Set small, actionable goals that are specific to what you want to accomplish, and then get excited about all the opportunities that 2021 will bring!


What We Believe


Educate all students to become responsible, college-and-career-ready community members.


Everyone learns, every day.


SMUSD has a commitment to…

· Accountability

· Being trustworthy

· Caring

· Taking initiative

· Being respectful

· Believing all children are capable of success. No exceptions.