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'It’s Invigorating:' Arizona Teachers Prepare To Walk Out

Arizona educators are preparing for what’s predicted to be the largest teacher strike in the country Thursday.

Wednesday marks almost a month of morning rallies calling for more money in the classroom, for teacher and support staff pay.

Dozens of teachers gathered on Indian School Road outside of Arcadia High School and every few second a passing car honked their support.

“It’s invigorating that people actually care,” said Stacey Scholnik, an English teacher at Arcadia High School in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Students from the school formed a river of red as they walked from school to the sidewalk to join their teachers.

“There goes my mascara,” said math teacher Anna Patterson as she wiped tears from behind her sunglasses.

“That was amazing,” Patterson said. “That’s who we’re here for and it’s so nice to see they’re here for us too.”

Mia Rubio, a senior at Arcadia and the student body vice president, was one of the students.  

"It's not acceptable for a profession to be so degraded in a way and they do it because they love us and that's the reason why they stay and that's not,” Rubio. She credits her teachers with helping her get into American University in Washington, D.C.

“I want them to have funding so they're not buying things for their classrooms and I want to see our classified staff respected as well,” Rubio said. Our security guard shouldn't be paid minimum wage to keep 1,800 kids safe."

Rubio will be one of the estimated 840,000 studentsimpacted by the walk out and said she plans to be at the Capitol standing with her teachers.

RELATED: Arizona Superintendent Of Public Instruction Diane Douglas: Teacher Strike Is 'Shameful'

Educators from across the state are making plans to travel to Phoenix to rally Thursday.  Erika Flores teaches first grade at Copper Rim Elementary in Globe.

“Our teachers are very passionate about this and we want to stand up for our students and what they deserve,” Flores said.

Tuesday afternoon Flores and her colleagues packed more than 930 apple juices, oranges, sandwiches and other snacks for their students to take home Wednesday.

Flores said the teachers didn’t want to leave their students without an extra meal in a school where last year 94 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches

RELATED: Food Available From 500 Sites During Arizona Teacher Strike

The district is normally only school four days a week and by Monday, Flores says they’ll be back at school. Their students need them too much to leave for longer.

“We just couldn't justify not giving them a safe place to come for a longer extended period of time,” Flores said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to clarify the time frame during which 94 percent of students qualifed for free and reduced lunches.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.