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Bridges principal wins STEM Award

Jeff Beickel

Bridges Elementary School principal, Jeff Beickel, was presented with the Grand Canyon University STEM Principal of the Month award for April 2020. This month, GCU staff along with Higley Unified School District staff and friends gathered virtually to surprise Mr. Beickel and presented the award.

“GCU loves educators and great schools are run by great principals. Your nomination was amazing,” said Jenifer Johnson from GCU during the virtual celebration. “You really are one of the great leaders. Congrats. Thank you!”

Mr. Beickel was one of ten principals from across the state recognized for the award for the 2019-20 school year.

Higley’s newest campus, Bridges Elementary, opened in July 2016. At that time Mr. Beickel served as the assistant principal. He has played a critical role in planning the STEM focused school, and in implementing the continual enhancements that have been added each year.

Working closely with the Arizona Science Center and applying to become an AZSTEM Community of Practice Campus led to beneficial relationships with other leaders across the state of Arizona. Teachers received training from the Arizona Science Center, along with the Buck Institute, to ensure that a model of Project Based Learning is successfully implemented across all grades and content areas. A Makers Place is used daily where students are encouraged put the 21st Century skills of communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking to work. Virtual reality, coding, and 3D printing are infused into lessons. Parents participate in the STEAM Night and Future Focused Fridays, where professionals in STEM related fields come into the school to share their careers and educational pathways. During the 2018-2019 school year, the school developed the Improve Your World Innovation Challenge, in which each grade level created a Project Based Learning unit geared toward making a positive impact on the school and community.

The nomination celebrated Mr. Beickel’s comprehensive approach to his school and leadership. The nomination also expressed deep gratitude for Mr. Beickel’s ability to bring in community, businesses and his ability to help students and teachers be the best they can be. In addition to the virtual event, GCU sent Mr. Beickel a GCU gift bag and certificate for the award.

Bridges Elementary School, located in Gilbert, Ariz., is part of the Higley Unified School District.