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STARSHINE was one of the first schools, in 2003, to give testimony to Arizona Legislature on the importance of preparing students for life...making school relevant: What are the Arizona College & Career Readiness Standards(AzCCRS)?

In 2016, StarShine was named an ASHOKA World Changing School. There are only four in Arizona. We are the only one in Phoenix. There are only 200 in the world.


Benjamin Franklin’s belief that the desire and ability to serve mankind should be "the great aim and end of all learning.” StarShine Academy agrees


In a creative community that fosters academic excellence and personal achievement, StarShine Academy is dedicated to helping every student find their talents and grow into a peaceful, ethically responsible, and successful person, ready for college and a purposeful life.

StarShine Academy believes that quality teaching is necessary for improving student achievement.  Our teachers support emerging talents with inspiration, admiration and encouragement. By focusing in on a child’s uniqueness, we can individualize this holistic approach for maximum results.  Abilities and desires are unique, just like fingerprints. When a person is supported to explore these unique abilities they become excited about their own future.


What kind of a place is StarShine Academy for those who study and work here, indeed for every member of the community?

Students and Teachers want to run in faster than they want to run out.

StarShine Academy is a place of:

RESPECT, where each person respects others, oneself and the environment, by exercising empathy and affording dignity to all;

UNDERSTANDING, where individuals seek to find truth more than to win, through honesty and engagement with ideas; and where the development of individual, moral responsibility and conscience is prized;

BALANCE, where depth of understanding, requiring time and reflection, is balanced with breadth of opportunity;

PURPOSE, where students find their place in the world, striving to reach beyond their own needs to express care and make a difference in the lives of others and the world;

PASSION for learning, where important questions are posed, students think critically and find their voice, developing habits of learning that endure.

Academic Excellence
Students deepen their grasp of important questions and concepts through critical thinking and creative reasoning. Project-style classroom instruction and extra-curricular activities foster an understanding of multiple perspectives, effective communication and the application of knowledge. StarShine Academy prepares students in body, mind and spirit to succeed at the most selective universities and colleges, as well as in their lives and eventual occupations and life-long service.

Ethical Responsibility
Students strengthen the ability to discern right from wrong as a matter of conscience, and develop the courage to act on their moral beliefs. Through a curriculum and culture deeply and distinctively committed to an ethic of personal responsibility as a way of life, students learn the value of living with integrity, as they and their teachers seek to understand what is fair, compassionate and right.

Global Engagement
Students explore beliefs and opinions from new perspectives, becoming aware of their roles as members of a local and global community. The curriculum inspires students to consciously grow from local citizens, to world travelers, to global citizens. They develop a broad perspective that prepares them to live in a society that is increasingly complex and interconnected. By offering an integrated curriculum, StarShine Academy graduates students who are culturally, politically, and socially aware. These students are resilient and competent to engage the world around them.


Joseph Wharton founded the world’s first business school more than 130 years ago, building on University of Pennsylvania founder Benjamin Franklin’s belief that the desire and ability to serve mankind should be "the great aim and end of all learning."

Great Teacher Brenda


These English language arts and mathematics standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers. StarShine begins this learning experience in Kindergarten.

These standards are:

Aligned with college and work expectations
Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills
Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards
Are informed by top-performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in
our global economy and society
Are evidence and/or research-based

(Arizona Department of Education; June 2, 2016)


StarShine Academy is a system of K-12 Charter and Private Schools recognized as transformational innovators in education:  Super Schools. You can't measure Super Schools with today's measurements of a few test scores. We require the outstanding growth of a whole human being; it takes more.

What is a Super School? It grows SuperStars. There is a SuperStar inside of everyone, if grown properly. We believe every child is born for responsibility and abundance, once they learn how to attain it and sustain it. We are dedicated to revamping education and shaping our learning techniques, so that each student is given the best opportunity to learn, and to help other schools improve by using our discoveries. At StarShine we build more than great students of the 21st Century, we build great humans wanting to spend their lives learning, changing, challenging, improving and helping others. StarShine is dedicated to preparing each child for success. We do so by combining outstanding learning, compassion, understanding how the brain learns, and the ability to recognize that each child has specialized needs determined by their current knowledge and skills, their learning style and their goals. At StarShine, self-empowerment, an appreciation for finer things, along with self-discipline are deemed essential to success. In recognition of our efforts StarShine is nationally and internationally accredited by AdvancED, and honored by the United Nations and the Vatican as Schools for Peace.

StarShine's curriculum combines the very best in learning discoveries, and Systems Thinking, particularly in developing StarShine's Sprial Curriculum, interwoven in Montessori practices for body, mind, spirit, health, wealth and happiness.

StarShine's Spiral Curriculum, combined with Beyond Textbooks from Vail, AZ, is predicated on cognitive theory advanced by Jerome Bruner (1960), who wrote, "We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development." In other words, even the most complex material, if properly structured and presented, can be understood by very young children. Key features of the spiral curriculum based on Bruner's work are: (1) The student revisits a topic, theme or subject several times throughout their school career; (2) The complexity of the topic or theme increases with each revisit; and (3) New learning has a relationship with old learning and is put in context with the old information. The benefits ascribed to the spiral curriculum by its advocates are: (1) The information is reinforced and solidified each time the student revisits the subject matter; (2) The spiral curriculum also allows a logical progression from simplistic ideas to complicated ideas; and (3) Students are encouraged to apply the early knowledge to later course objectives. 

For StarShine each year is a of record of performance, innovation, creativity, and construction. StarShine continues to achieve record numbers in student enrollment and student performance. StarShine's Creative Community EcoVillage of approximately 4.5 acres serves as our world headquarters of research and demonstration.

Our success is driven by improved results in each of our strategic processes and reflects the strength of our entire organization, grounded in StarShine's Fifteen Guiding Principles. It's also the result of our long-term strategy and the significant support we've had over the last many years to ensure that we continue to find new ways to capture the imagination of students, teachers and parents through learning. StarShine schools continually look for ways to produce experiences that exceed expectations and become cherished memories.

We have built an amazing collection of some of the world's best curriculum, methods for learning, methods for teaching, and methods for success. We continually pursue multiple opportunities to create high-quality content and unparalleled education experiences. In a world cluttered with education choices, people look for a quality brand of trust, hope, integrity, excellence, academics, care and fun. StarShine, represented by the Sower casting stars of hope, is that brand. And today, whether they're a parent seeking a great school or ideas for helping their own homeschool, or a Learning Leader attending StarShine Quintessential Institute for Learning Leaders, hundreds of people continue to reach out to StarShine.

Technology, as it transforms virtually every part of education, remains one of our key priorities. As consumers change the way they use media and interact with the world around them, we see increasing opportunities for us to connect with them and engage them in new ways to learn.

StarShine's mobile app was approved for download through iTunes. Still in beta stage, soon, it will support students and parents no matter where they are in the world and will serve as the portal for parents to virtually visit their child's classroom or teacher. You can download it now. 

Recently StarShine launched six new software choices to help students learn easier, faster and better. Among these we include STAR360 to track each student's individual learning statistics and help Leaders of Learning, teachers with lesson plans. APPEX Learning systems, MobyMax, Kahn Academy, Headsprouts, Brain Safari, Lumosity, Study Island and Heart Math are some of our favorite resources. Even more exciting, we reinvent the way video can be used for learning and to tell student stories. The year-end quest for donations inspired staff and students to write and produce a movie about themselves asking donors to support StarShine. One of our philanthropic supporters said it was the best donation request he had ever seen. Because of the movie, he sent StarShine an extra one thousand dollars.

Ultimately, StarShine creates unique education adventures based on the unique attributes of a child, To support that goal we are developing a software system called the Learning Trajectory Navigator. or “Lightning” and through our work with XPRIZE for Global Learning   

Engagement and student travel with the world outside of Phoenix remains a priority even as development unfolds in our own neighborhood. Last fall's launch of StarShine International Network with the Dean of St. Patrick's College at Trinity College in Dublin, was an important step in our plans to create an international network of academic hubs that will develop students' global awareness and cultural literacy. Founder and CEO Trish McCarty expanded StarShine's international reach by forming a partnership with SAGE, offering high school students service and leadership opportunities that translate into a year's worth of academic credit. We are also working in partnership with Families Helping Families and The Institute of EcoTourism.

Our achievements are a testament to the commitment and tireless work of our incredibly talented and passionate employees. The strength of our organization truly blossoms from the character and integrity of our people. We are grateful to have such amazing men and women at StarShine.

The StarShine Academy Creative Community EcoVillage campus was specifically chosen for its location in the center of Phoenix Discover Triange, a model for urban life. In the last three years, the school has grown from fewer than 100 to more than 300 students, while maintaining its unique purpose, principles, and culture, and its unique effect on the children and adults who are a part of StarShine. Our students come from a rich variety of national, ethnic, religious, and language backgrounds. Whether they are Muslim refugees from Somalia or children of Mexican immigrants, or Internationally recognized scholars and Basketball stars, our students learn to enjoy differences in others. We provide breakfast and lunch to all students as we continue to work toward 100% healthy, organic food.

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Contact Us
StarShine Academy District 3535 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85008
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