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Karson Shipp

SED 464
School Environment Narrative
Terramar Academy of the Arts is located in the Deer Valley Unified School District in
Peoria, AZ. The address is 7000 W Happy Valley Rd, Peoria, AZ 85383. Terramar is a K-8
In my classroom, I teach three classes of 7th grade social studies students and one of 8th
grade social studies students. The first period class is comprised of only nine students. Eight of
these students perform at an average level while one has an IEP. The second period class is made
up of around 25-28 students (student schedules are still being changed so this number varies).
This is an advanced class with most of the students performing above average in test scores. The
third period class is packed full of students; there are more students than there are chairs. Eleven
students in this period have IEPs, one student is an ELL, and the rest perform averagely or below
average according to state standards. The fourth period class is an 8th grade advanced class. There
are around 25 students, all of whom perform above-average, hence their placement in an
advanced classroom.
My classroom is packed with technology. It has a SMART Board with a ceiling mounted
modern projector, a document camera (in place of the old overhead projectors), a mobile cabinet
filled with laptops, a full color printer, and a TV with a DVD/VCR player. Aside from more
modern technologies, my classroom also utilizes two whiteboards on opposite walls and
textbooks. The daily announcements are recorded early in the day by students and then played in
first period like a mock news segment. Recognizing the prevalence of technology and social
media in the students lives, homework is assigned to reflect this. One homework assignment that

was assigned to the 8th grade class was to create a fake and anachronistic Tweet or Instagram post
from a person present in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Terramar Academy of the Arts is a high-performing school that opened in August of
2011. It is a very new school which is apparent upon entering any room. Almost all the
classrooms feature the same amenities listed above. Terramar AotA features a computer lab, art
room, auditorium, cafeteria, garden/greenhouse, gym, internet access, library, music room and a
performance stage. According to, 75% of the school is White, 14% are
Hispanic, and 11% are Black, Asian or mixed. Only 12% of the students are participating in a
free or reduced-price lunch program compared to the states average of 47%. Terramar AotA is
focused on providing their students with a rich upbringing in the arts from an early age. Since the
students can go there from Kindergarten through 8th grade, they have plenty of opportunity to
learn and engage in some form of extracurricular art. Almost every student in the school is
involved in band, theater, art or sports to some degree. At the end of the day for every student is
an elective period. This period is where they take classes in art, computers, music, etc. The
school also has a no-fail policy. This manifests in Response to Intervention (RTI). RTI is a class
that will replace a students regular elective if they are missing/failing assignments or failing a
class. The student goes to the RTI classroom where they complete their missing assignments or
get help in failing subjects with the aid of the RTI teacher; Terramar AotA only failed one
student. Terramar AotA also provides an AM/PM extended day care program.
The Deer Valley Unified School District is comprised of 38 schools that serves Phoenix,
Glendale, Peoria, Anthem, New River, Cave Creek and unincorporated areas of Maricopa
County. According to the districts website (, there are fourteen K-8 schools, fifteen K6 schools, three 7-8 schools, five 9-12 schools, one alternative campus and one eSchool. There

are also seventeen Developmental Preschool sites, twelve Pre-K sites and seven preschool sites.
Twelve of these schools are Title 1. The district employs 3,665 employees and the student to
teacher ratio is 18:1. The graduation rate across the district is 92% with a 95% attendance rate.
There are two students for every one computer district-wide. $53 million has been offered in
scholarships to graduating seniors. There are 248 buses in operation. 3,527 students are dual
enrolled, and 3,495 students are in advanced placement. Sixteen teachers in DVUSD are Nation
Board Certified. Terramar Academy of the Arts places in the top 5 of schools in this district.
My classroom has almost everything you can imagine. The only amenity missing is a
classroom set of iPads. I believe that iPads would go a long way in getting students ready for the
future as technology is going the way of convenience and portability.