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Building a Stronger FUSD Community

Posted 6/14/24

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the importance of strong community engagement cannot be overstated. Schools are not just places where children go to learn; they are the heart of …

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Building a Stronger FUSD Community


In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the importance of strong community engagement cannot be overstated. Schools are not just places where children go to learn; they are the heart of our communities, centers for lifelong learning and hubs of social interaction.

At Florence Unified School District, we recognize the critical role our Community Education department plays in fostering these connections and building a more cohesive and engaged community.

Our Community Education department, led by Joleen Carberry and Jennie Valencia, is at the forefront of this mission.

Carberry, a finance specialist who has been with FUSD for 14 years, and Valencia, the administrative assistant for Community Ed with four years of service, bring passion, creativity and commitment to their roles, ensuring our programs meet the diverse needs of our community members.

People seldom realize all that this small department does for the FUSD community. It is about creating engagement opportunities for families and their children and fostering a sense of belonging among all community members.

Whether through the annual backpack drive, Hoot Night, or one of the many camps they organize, Carberry and Valencia’s programs provide valuable resources that enrich the lives of our residents.

For instance, Carberry and Valencia spearhead the annual backpack drive, distributing more than 2,500 backpacks filled with school supplies to students from preschool to high school. This effort ensures that our students are well-prepared for the academic year ahead.

One of the most significant benefits of a strong Community Education department is the way it brings people together. In a time when digital communication often replaces face-to-face interaction, these programs offer a much-needed opportunity for personal connection.

A prime example is the Community Ed-Hoot Night, a free event attracting up to 6,000 attendees.

Organizing such a massive event can be daunting, but Carberry and Valencia manage it with ease.
Moreover, the FUSD Community Education department helps foster a sense of compassion and pride in our school district.

Carberry and Valencia create unity among our district schools through their annual Penny Drive. They challenge every student in FUSD to donate loose change to bring smiles and a sense of normalcy to hospitalized children.

In 2023, they raised $4,642 that was used to purchase approximately 600 board games for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Banner Children’s Hospital.

When our community stakeholders participate in these programs, they become more invested in the success of our schools and more supportive of our students. This increased engagement leads to a stronger, more unified community, where everyone feels they have a stake in the educational process.

Carberry and Valencia have been instrumental in expanding our Community Education offerings. Their approach and ability to understand and respond to the community’s needs have led to the development of a wide range of programs that appeal to all demographics.

The success of our Community Education department is a testament to what can be achieved when we prioritize community engagement and invest in programs that bring people together.

Fostering strong community connections is more important than ever, and thanks to employees like Carberry and Valencia, FUSD is accomplishing that goal.

If you are interested in learning more about FUSD’s Community Ed programs, call the district office at 520-866-3500.

Rita Ann Ezzai Reznick is the director of public relations for the Florence Uniied School District.