Getting A Head Start

Specialized schools give students a lift

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A federally funded preschool and family referral program, Payson Head Start provides services for lower-income families and children with disabilities in an intimate classroom setting.

The agency's mission, site manager Lynne Winans said, is to provide accessible, comprehensive early childhood programs that support children from birth to 8 years of age.

Head Start currently provides services for 20 families, including a developmentally appropriate preschool program, complete health screening, specialized services for children with disabilities, opportunities for families to volunteer and assist with menu- and lesson-planning, and monthly parent meetings with workshops and training.

During 2000, Payson Head Start renovated its facility at 1008 S. Westerly. The agency was recently approved for a Community Development Block Grant, and plans to upgrade its playground area so it is handicap accessible.

Tribal school in the works

The Tonto Apache Tribe is working to establish a K-12 school that will likely be private. According to Roger Martin, pastor of the Full Gospel Family Church and a moving force behind the new school, tribal children don't do well in traditional schools, so the tribe wants to create a learning institution that's tailored to their needs.

According to Martin, current plans call for adoption of a Christian-based, individually paced curriculum known as PACE. In addition to providing an option for tribal children, "We want to get Christ back into the classroom," Martin said.

Payson Community Christian School

The Rim country also has two religion-based private schools that both charge tuition.

A 10-year-old K-8 private school, Payson Community Christian School, has eight full-time and five part-time teachers.

The school, which currently has 70 students, is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International. Its goal is to provide quality education in an atmosphere that makes learning fun and enjoyable.

Principal/Administrator Teresa Purtee said her goal is to not only provide students with the best education possible, but also to provide for their spiritual and social needs.

"We strive to do our utmost to uphold the values and morals of parents while their children are apart from them," she said.

The school's campus features nine classrooms, a lunchroom, two playgrounds, a library and a computer lab. Extracurricular offerings include basketball, drama, art, music, physical education and cheerleading.

This year, school officials want to add high school grades, buy the school facility, and add a track and bus program.

Tuition ranges from $808 to $2,803 per year. Book and lab fees are extra.

Anderson Adventist School

Formerly known as the Payson SDA School, the Anderson Adventist School has been providing "caring Christian education" to the Payson community since 1979.

Accredited by the Accrediting Association of SDA Schools, the institution's single teacher is certified to teach grades 1-8. The school currently has seven students.

The school has a one-room atmosphere that fosters a "family feel among the teacher and students."

Whenever possible, courses are correlated and taught as a group, or instruction is given on a one-on-one basis. The classroom is equipped with five computers with Internet access.

With a philosophy that academic learning should be supplemented with physical, spiritual and social skills, the school is committed "to encouraging each student to make decisions and choices wisely, and to develop personal responsibility and self-discipline."

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