Community takes on a whole new meaning in Nogales, where we live out the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child and prepare them for life. To make our kids successful – and to make our community strong – we must work together, view the uniqueness of our community as a strength and not a deficit and it starts in our classrooms.

As assistant superintendent at the Nogales Unified School District and chief executive officer at Mexicayotl Academy, we are proud of the relationship our district leadership and administrative teams have forged. Saying we work together closely is an understatement. Our partnership bridges the charter vs. traditional district school divide as we work side by side, along with our parents, students, teachers, business leaders and community members to make sure all our kids reach their full potential.

We are proud that our graduation rate at Nogales High School is 96 percent – approximately 18 percent higher than the rest of the state. Mexicayotl Academy contributes by having 100 percent of its former students as Nogales High School graduates. Achieving and maintaining a high graduation rate is not an easy task for a rural community, and yet we would never settle for “good enough.”

Seeing additional dollars allocated in Gov. Ducey’s executive budget proposal for schools like ours – schools that are achieving tremendous results even in challenging circumstances – means the world. With the increased dollars proposed, our schools could do more to attract and retain high-quality teachers in this rural setting. In combination, the funding to support pay increases, expansion of teacher loan and the proposed results-based funding would help us support our great teachers, and add to our ability to sustain and expand the instructional programs that enable all of our students to achieve at high levels.