Charter School Finds New Life In Star Valley

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By the end of next week, the 28-foot-by-60-foot modular building that will house Life School College Prep off Highline in Star Valley will be set up and ready for student registration.


The area's newest public charter school, which will have two classrooms and two teachers, will accept up to 60 fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.


Patrick Tatum, who is heading up the school, watched as crews lowered the modular building into place Thursday on an acre of leased land in Star Valley.


"We tried to lease an existing building in Payson, but it fell through last May," Tatum said. "We may have lost some credibility with some people, but we persevered. It's been a tough year, a frustrating year and I miss the kids."


Pointing to a few patches of dirt, Tatum said he could envision turning them into a picnic area for students and their families, a tether ball court and a playground.


Life School stresses academics, provides teachers who double as student mentors and encourages career and vocational exploration.


The new building is designed for two classrooms, and Tatum said he plans to have a computer for every three students.


Tatum said he expects about 60 students to register this year, despite last year's false start. He said he'll hire one more teacher and will encourage parents to volunteer at the school.


Now in his fourth year with the charter school, Tatum said he is a former Arizona School for the Arts employee and he worked as a substitute teacher for several years.


He also worked as an intern at Arizona State University while working on his master's degree in elementary education.


"I don't want to mislead anybody," he said. "I didn't complete my master's, but I found my prior life experiences in the food and beverage industry and as a business owner in Mexico to be a major factor in being a successful teacher."


Tatum plans to open the school July 24 with a modified school calendar that includes a six-week summer vacation, plus all the holidays traditional schools get.


"As a teacher, I'll be getting 15 additional instruction days, 190 days instead of the 175 required by the state," he said.


Once the school is approved for occupancy, Tatum said he plans to hold Saturday open houses for parents and students who want to tour the facility.


Life School will have a booth at the Business Showcase April 15, during which time Tatum will be passing out maps to the school site and registering students.


Children who registered last year will get first priority for placement.


For more information, call Tatum at 474-0972 or (602) 679-5605, or mail inquiries to: Life School College Prep, P.O. Box 3043, Payson, AZ 85547.

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