Palo Verde awarded A+ School of Excellence

Palo Verde Elementary School Principal Joanne Kramer stands Wednesday Oct. 14, 2020 in front of the school’s mural.

CASA GRANDE — Joanne Kramer had a goal in mind when she became principal of Palo Verde Elementary School — she wanted the school to be named an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation.

Kramer was previously the principal at McCartney Ranch Elementary School, and during that time, it became an A+ School of Excellence. In 2014, Kramer became principal of Palo Verde, where she made that same award her goal.

After six years, Kramer received an email on Oct. 7 that made her goal a dream come true.

“It was one of the happiest days,” Kramer said. “We all worked together.”

According to Kramer, she enlisted the help of an eight-person committee to help her complete the application, which ended up being about 35 pages long.

Cheryl Johnston, a teacher at the school, was one of those who helped Kramer with the application. “At first, I didn’t even know where to begin,” Johnston said.

After going through the school’s strengths and goals, the committee felt confident with the application.

The school was able to submit its application early in December. By March, just shy of the COVID-19 shutdown, judges were able to visit the school and see for themselves.

“A+ Schools are celebrated and recognized as exceptional. Earning the highly prestigious and coveted A+ designation spotlights the positive successes happening in public schools every day,” the foundation says on its website.

Palo Verde Elementary School received a rating of a B during the 2018-19 school year in the Arizona A-F Letter Grades accountability system. The school was one of the two schools in the Casa Grande Elementary School District that received a grade of B from the state.

According to Kramer, the school has shown significant growth in the last couple of years, which can be attributed to several things, such as becoming a Leader in Me School, using Teacher Clarity practices and more.

“The kids are the ones that made that growth,” Kramer said. Although COVID-19 prevents Kramer from celebrating with her students in person at the moment, they will celebrate eventually.

Both Johnston and Kramer are ready to see students on campus starting Monday, when kindergarten and first grade return. Other students return the following week.

“It’s a little different,” Johnston said. “The kiddos are ready to come back.”

Students and teachers will be able to celebrate during a Zoom digital event being held on Nov. 25.


Gabrielle Olivera is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more.

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