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Important Update from CITY Center for Collaborative Learning Board Chair & Executive Director

Dear Students, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Supporters & Community Partners,

I write you today with an important announcement. Late last week, I received news from Carrie Brennan, our longtime organizational leader and one of our co-founders, that she will be stepping down from her current post in June 2019. I want to share important information about our next steps as we prepare for a leadership transition.

*Carrie shares more details of her news with you below.

On behalf of the Board, present and past, I want to express our appreciation for Carrie’s extraordinary contributions to what has become one of Arizona’s leading progressive educational programs for high school and middle school students. Carrie spent a year in 2003-04, with the support of co-founders Eve Rifkin and Brett Goble, doing the demanding work to create City High School. As the founding principal, she grew the school to an enrollment of nearly 200 students, established its comprehensive programming, and purchased the two buildings that comprise the downtown campus. It was also under Carrie’s leadership that what was City High School transformed itself into CITY Center for Collaborative Learning after she navigated a complex and successful merger with the extraordinary Paulo Freire Freedom Schools, co-founded by Santo Nicotera and JoAnn Groh.

The strength and stability of CITY Center – its schools, particularly – suggests that the impact of Carrie’s leadership will last generations, and that thousands of young people will see their lives transformed by what Carrie and her co-founders have done. I know that you will join me in the coming months to share our gratitude with her.

The CITY board now turns to the important work of seeking a successor to Carrie, a project we will treat with utmost importance. Selecting, supporting, and evaluating the Executive Director is the most important task of a nonprofit board, and after speaking with each of our board members in recent days, it is clear to me that we all understand this responsibility.

The CITY board’s Executive Committee – Vice Chair Theresa Mary Fischer, Treasurer Glen Warner, and I – have begun the work of mapping out next steps. The three of us along with former board chair Mary Jo Ghory and new board member Gina Catalano, an expert consultant in organizational transitions, will serve as a team that leads the transition process.

This transition team recognizes the critical importance of seeking first to understand, and we will work to structure and implement a process that includes multiple opportunities for our key constituencies to provide input in a variety of ways. Please expect additional information in the coming weeks regarding the search process, timeline, and opportunities for input.

In the meantime, I invite you to send me your thoughts and suggestions, both for how we can best demonstrate our appreciation to Carrie and how we can best secure the strongest possible continuation of her work.

Thank you,

Jonathan Martin, Chair, CITY Center for Collaborative Learning


Dear Students, Staff, Parents, Alumni, Supporters & Community Partners,

At the end of this school year, I will join ranks with the class of 2019 and head out for my next adventure. I have accepted a leadership position at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vermont, that begins in July. It won’t be easy to leave this organization I have called home for 16 years and say goodbye to the wonderful community and schools we have created together.

I love my job and our work together and had no plans to leave Tucson or CITY; however, this is a unique opportunity for my family and me that I couldn’t let pass by. My connection to Thetford Academy dates back to the earliest years of my career. I visited the school as an undergrad, my husband student taught there, and a mentor/friend served as the Head from 1991-2010.

I am confident that the organization is in good hands to lead us through this transition period and into the future. We are fortunate to have strong leadership – at both the board and staff levels – to ensure an effective transition. I will work closely with them in coming months to do my part in setting up a smooth passing of the baton, and I am grateful for the extra effort this will require of all involved.

Change is exciting – and yet so bittersweet too.

My commitment to CITY for almost two decades has been the most important chapter of my professional life. I am so proud of our work together and what we have accomplished – and so proud of all that we do for kids every day. I have learned so much about being a teacher, leader, and mentor from all of you.

Thank you,


10th Reunion! Classes of 2007, 2008, 2009

City High School - Year 1 – 2004

Join us on Saturday, November 24 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. for our first-ever alumni reunion. Classes of 2007, 2008, 2009 and their families are invited. More details and tickets available on Eventbrite!


Tax Credit Campaign Kicks Off!

Your Credit Counts @ CITY

Every year City High School raises significant dollars through our tax credit campaign to support the most hands-on and intensive learning that our students experience: overnight field trips, arts residencies, after school workshops, and the Advisory program are just a few examples.

The goal for City High School is to raise $60,000 this fall. Every dollar of our campaign goes directly to students and their learning.

The credit you can claim on your state taxes is equal to the amount you contribute. However, for single taxpayers or heads of household, the credit cannot exceed $200. For married taxpayers that file a joint return, the credit cannot exceed $400.

Please donate by December 31 to claim this tax credit on your 2016 state tax returns. Make your contribution now through PayPal or by mailing in a check. Visit our website to learn more. 

City High School on Facebook: “Like Us!”


Our Facebook page is a great place to get news and photos about the latest happenings and upcoming events at City High School. Recent photos feature the junior trip, Tucson Meet Yourself, StoryShare performance night, and lots of student artwork. Recent posts about upcoming events include the Chili Cook Off and the Winter Party.

At City High School, we believe in creating opportunities for students to showcase their learning – and Facebook is one more way to share with a ‘real world’ audience.

We are proud of our following – up over 1700 likes as of this week! – and are aiming for 2000 in 2016. Help us reach our goal: Like our page and invite your friends to do the same. (And if Twitter is your thing, you can find City High School there too!)

UA Downtown Lecture Series @ The Fox

Immortality series

The UA School of Social and Behavioral Sciences kicks off the fall Downtown Lecture Series today at the Fox Tucson Theatre. The 2015 theme for the series is Immortality. There are five lectures all by UA professors exploring different angles on aspects of death and immortality, taking place on Wednesday evenings 6:30-7:30pm, from October 14 through November 11.

We are so happy to have the University of Arizona as downtown players and partners since they moved into the Roy Place building in 2011, and the Downtown Lecture Series is one of the many reasons why!

Edcamp Tucson a Success & A Shout Out to Student Videographers

CITY Center for Collaborative Learning hosted an Edcamp last month, bringing together 50 educators from throughout the Tucson community for a morning of sharing, discussing, and networking – all around topics of teaching and learning.

Teachers and leaders from CITY Center’s 3 schools were there – City High School and the Paulo Freire Freedom Schools – as well as many others from a variety of schools, including Tucson High School, the Gregory School, Utterback Middle School, Salpointe Catholic High School, Khalsa Montessori, Catalina Foothills High School, and the University of Arizona. Community partner organizations were also represented, including CommunityShare, Arts Integration Solutions, and LeadLocal.

Thanks to City High School student videographers Grey Peckham and Angelique Montaño, who along with the guidance of Art Teacher Jessica Melrose, produced an outstanding video to document the day!

Edcamp participants co-created the agenda – proposing breakout sessions that covered a wide range of topics from creativity to math curriculum to Google apps for educators to project-based learning. Feedback was very positive for Tucson’s first Edcamp. A few comments give a feel for the highlights:

  • “I got to connect with local education innovators!”
  • “I came with a nebulous idea, and left with a clear question. So helpful!”
  • “The tech ‘throw down’ was great – I got a lot of ideas for personal and educational uses.”
  • “The day was participant-driven and inquiry based.”
  • “I’m inspired!”

Check out JoAnn Groh’s article about Edcamp on the School Reform Initiative website. Save the date: We have tentatively scheduled Saturday, February 13, 2016 for the next #edcamptucson!

Edcamp Tucson - small group Edcamp Tucson - Jonathan Martin Edcamp Tucson opening Edcamp Tucson - creating agenda

Edcamp Comes to Tucson! Saturday, Sept. 12

Edcamp Tucson

CITY Center for Collaborative Learning is excited to host the first Edcamp in Tucson on Saturday, September 12. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more details and the Eventbrite registration link.

What is Edcamp? Edcamp is one of those new good ideas that has been around forever: Create a time and a space for people to convene who are all passionate about the same topic, add a little bit of structure to make it work, and voila! – good things will happen. Specifically, an Edcamp event brings together educators to share ideas, exchange resources, and generate enthusiasm for the profession, all with the end goal to accelerate student growth. It is based on the ‘unconference’ model and highly values the expertise, curiosity, and interests of the attendees. Like CITY Center for Collaborative Learning, the Edcamp Foundation is committed to promoting participant-driven professional development for educators.

The Edcamp movement recently got a huge boost with a $2 million grant from the Gates Foundation! Read about it here.

City High School Nominated for Prestigious Lumies Arts Award!

2015 lumies logo

Congratulations are in order to all of City High School’s artists – students and teachers alike. We are one of the nominees this year for the prestigious Lumies Arts Award, sponsored by the Tucson Pima Arts Council, in the Arts Education category!

City High School & the Arts: An Overview and (Partial) List of Accomplishments

At City High School teachers of all disciplines integrate the arts seamlessly into their curriculum. The arts are used to deepen student understanding of content in subjects as varied as literature, history, math, science, and Spanish. The arts are also used for project-based assessment across the curriculum: in other words, as a means for students to demonstrate their new understandings, express their perspective, and make an impact on the community around them. The arts are also studied, explored, and honored as their own discipline. Since its inception in 2004, City High School has offered a range of arts classes every year that span the categories of visual, performing, and media arts.

Recent notable awards for City High School student artists include:

  • Congressional Art Competition – grand prize winner, 2015 (see photos below of Michael Fisher receiving the award from U.S. Representative McSally and Michael’s artwork)
  • Fund for Civility’s End of Bullying PSA contest – first place award, 2014, 2015
  • Joel D. Valdez Annual High School Art Invitational – best of drawing and best of mixed media in 2014; best of drawing and a ‘special recognition’ award in 2015
  • City High student art work was featured in a spring/summer 2015 exhibit at the Pima County Courthouse gallery
  • Student-produced radio shows chosen for PRX’s (Public Radio Exchange) list of “best youth-produced radio in the nation” for the past four years, 2010-2014

Michael Fisher with Rep. McSally    Lumies award - art image

Other accomplishments and traditions in the arts arena at City High School include:

  • Pennington Street Block Party features many exhibits and performances with an arts focus
  • the drama class produces a major show each semester with sold-out performances at ZUZI Theatre
  • many students participate in the annual All Souls Procession as part of two different arts integration projects in Spanish and math classes
  • radio stories published on City High’s PRX site are routinely purchased by radio stations around the country
  • student musical performances take place weekly at our whole school meeting
  • the video class produces and airs weekly school announcements
  • student art exhibit and print sale takes place each semester
  • the Voices afterschool program features many arts workshops and opportunities
  • our partnerships with scores of community arts groups, including Sonoran Glass School, Arts Integration, and Lead Guitar, to name a few

To view related photos and videos, visit the our Facebook page. To visit stories on Public Radio Exchange, visit the City High radio page.

The final award selection will take place at TPAC’s annual Lumies event on September 12. City High School is one of ten nominees in the arts education category, alongside one of our long-time favorite partners, Stories That Soar, so we know we are in good company.

Big Welcome for New Principal, Brett Goble!

Brett Goble and advisory

As we kick off the twelfth year of City High School, there is much news to share and celebrate, including the appointment of Brett Goble as principal. Brett is not new to City High School; he is a co-founder and has taken on a variety of leadership roles since the school’s earliest days, from business manager to outreach center director to lead teacher. He brings to his new post a deep knowledge and experience with all aspects of running a school.

Brett Goble, pictured above with his advisory group at last year’s retreat, is a beloved veteran teacher, with over fifteen years of classroom experience as a history and humanities teacher. He received National Board Certification in 2011 (read press release), which is considered the highest national standard of excellence for the profession. Brett is also a national facilitator with the School Reform Initiative and has led professional development trainings for school administrators and teachers from throughout the United States. Read more about Brett’s background in the staff directory.

Brett will be working alongside other school leaders, including longtime assistant principal and dean of students Jeff Hartman, co-founder and director of the college readiness program Eve Rifkin, and after school coordinator Tom Moore.

Carrie Brennan will be focusing on her role as executive director of CITY Center for Collaborative Learning. She is leading the nonprofit organization through a period of growth as it prepares to offer a wider array of research-based professional development for educators and schools, to take on the Paulo Freire Freedom middle schools in July 2016, and to make a greater impact on the educational landscape in Arizona and beyond.

Gearing Up for New School Year – Registration Aug. 7 & First Day Aug. 10

Brett Goble

Letter from the Principal: Important Back-to-School Dates for Students & Families

Dear Students & Families,

We are busy gearing up for the new school year and look forward to seeing everyone soon! We hope you all received the packet sent home early last week. Included in the mailing were important forms to fill in and other school information for your reference. Here are reminders about the two big dates highlighted in the mailing:

Friday, August 7: Back-to-School Registration

  • All students are required to attend and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Registration is open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 pm.
  • Families with a last name beginning A-M are requested to come to the morning session
  • Families with a last name beginning N-Z are requested to come to the afternoon session

Students will receive their schedules and other important information at registration. They will also have their pictures taken for their school ID so please encourage your child to dress accordingly. Parents will have the opportunity to pay student fees, learn how to use Powerschool to stay informed on their child’s progress and attendance, and turn in several required school forms that were mailed home last week.

Monday, August 10: First Day of School

Classes for all students begin on August 10. Students will attend a regular day of Monday classes on the first day of school (periods 1, 3, 5, and advisory).

If you have any questions about registration, please contact Registrar Charles Schnarr at 623-7223 x202 or


Brett Goble, Principal