Zaharis Elementary School

Picture of Zaharis Elementary

Principal: Mike Oliver

9410 East McKellips Rd, Mesa, AZ 85207
School Website


We strive to honor what John Dewey said about a hundred years ago:  Education isn't preparation for future living.  Education is life.  At Zaharis, our students see themselves as democratic participants in the world whose voices and opinions count. In an authentic learning environment, they are mathematicians, historians, readers, writers, scientists, and social scientists. Critical thinking is nurtured through a workshop pedagogy where we place a premium on inquiry-based, hands-on learning.  Children develop independence as learners and the ability to work together to raise questions, investigate issues, and solve problems. Our classroom communities are alive with a passion and fire for learning.  Children apprentice themselves to their teachers and they work side-by-side to make sense out of the world. Zaharis places a very heavy emphasis on literacy development. We help children grow as readers by using real books. Literary discussions illuminate our classrooms, as we challenge ourselves to look at the world through new perspectives. At Zaharis, children develop a love for reading, and it becomes a central part of their lives.

Click here to hear about Zaharis from former student teachers

Would you like to be part of the Zaharis team for a semester?

To be considered for a placement at this school, we recommend you read the following books before you apply.  We recommend that you purchase them and mark them up, but if your budget is restricted, you can check them out at your local library. 

Grand Conversations - Literature Groups in Action by Ralph Peterson & Maryann Eeds.

This book introduces the reader to the notion: real books and the conversations they inspire should be at the  heart of classroom literacy practices.  The latest edition is enriched by updated booklists and by reflections of teachers deeply influenced by the original book.

Creating Curriculum - Teachers and Students as a Community of Learners by Kathy G. Short & Carolyn Burke.

Curriculum is not just a set of activities, it is putting into action a system of beliefs that highlights both action adn reflection in learning and teaching.  And because curriculum so obviously involves both students and teachers, it should be built collaboratively between them.  This redefinition gives back decision-making to teachers and students instead of taking it out of their  hands through mandates and prescribed programs.

On Solid Ground - Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3 by Sharon Taberski.

Enter Sharon Taberski's classroom and enter a world where children take pride, take risks, and most  of all, take reading seriously.  In her book, Sharon shares what she's gained in her twenty years fo working with children adn teachers.  It's organized around a series of interconnected interactions with the learner: Assessment, Demonstration, Practice, Response.  It is loaded with advice, booklists, ready-to-use reproducibles, etc.

From the Ground Up by Heidi Mills & Amy Donnelly

This is the story of a small group of teachers, university partners, and a school district when they joined together to create the Center for Inquiry to explore what was possible rather than typical for teachers and children in elementary education.

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.

Effective, intentional teaching begins with a strong set of beliefs, but even the best teachers struggle to make sure that their classroom practice consistently reflects their core convictions.  This book shares the process of definingh beliefs, aligning practice, and taking action to ensure that children are the true beneficiaries of the teaching.

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Drawing is what Ramon does.  It's what makes him happy.  In one split second, however, all that is changed.  Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor, illus. by Peter Parnall

Mountain Girl knows her family doesn't have enough money.  But as the family sits around their scratched-up kitchen table, they begin to count up the value of the things they have.  How much is it worth to be able to see the sky all day and feel the wind and smell the coming rain? Could her family really be rich after all?