Earlier this summer, the principals of Utterback, Doolen, Safford and Lawrence attended a conference on how to turn their schools around. The four principals went individually, but they all felt the same inspiration leaving the conference. When they returned to Tucson, they decided to become a team.

Since then, theyve consistently efforted to maximize what they can achieve as a team. On Tuesday, those efforts came to fruition. Teachers and staff from each school were invited to a professional development conference at Safford K-8.

This all just came together literally within the last month, and the four of us just got so excited, said Katherine Kuhn, principal of Safford K-8.

Their inspiration came directly from the conference they attended, led by School Turn-Around Specialist Shawn Hurt. The four principals enjoyed his message so much, they invited him to attend Tuesdays conference as well.

Kids can be great. Understanding that kids come from rough situations, but if we can set the school up in a way that can address the academic and social needs for the kids, you will see greatness, explained Hurt.

The conference was made possible with local nonprofit Higher Grounds, who brought the four schools together. Jansen Azarias-Suzumoto is the CEO of Higher Grounds, and is eager to see what the collaboration will lead to.

This is the first of its kind and it really is four principals, two organizations, and a bunch of teachers coming together to say, We want change, were willing to put in the hard work, and if you allow us to collaborate, great things can happen.

The four principals are excited to continue to build their relationship and are confident this conference will not be the last.