Longhorn Lessons


We asked the principals of our public schools to reflect on the past year and on the future to delineate their schools' greatest needs and strengths, to quantify their successes, to identify emerging education trends and explain their goals for tomorrow. Their responses follow on this and the next two pages.

Phil Gille, who has been the principal of Payson High School for 12 years, took a different approach to answering the forum questions. He deferred specific questions to the staff members and students he thought would provide the best and most insightful responses. The district's mainstream high school, PHS has a total of 860 students 266 freshmen, 228 sophomores, 178 juniors and 188 seniors who are working to graduate with the Class of 2001.


Jerry Daniels government class took on the task of determining the school's greatest strengths. Here are some of them:

Relationships between teachers and students.

Sports and fine arts.

Extra- and co-curricular programs such as Students Against Destructive Decisions, Key Club and FFA, and the positive difference those programs are making in the lives of those involved. They give students motivation to do well in school and also distract students from getting in trouble or becoming involved in drugs.


People in the community who support school programs and students.

The smaller school size, which gives us the opportunity to know almost everyone in school.


Members of the PHS Key Club tackled the task of determining the school's greatest needs. Here's what they came up with:

More foreign languages.

More acceptance of cultural diversity.

More equipment in academic classrooms.

Maintaining PHS's high level of school spirit.

Greater respect for authority figures.


George Conley, head of the fine arts department, reports that his department has implemented an ongoing tutoring program, added advanced placement classes and completed the school's mini theater.

The community based instruction class, designed for students with special needs through age 21, provides opportunities to learn functional skills frequently demanded in real world environments. Computer technology is increasingly providing another avenue for these students to learn, reports teacher Becky Derwort. The students also formed a "Partners Club" on campus, which has allowed them to better understand the importance of students helping students.


Among the trends the PHS staff mentioned:

An increasing focus on student achievement and preparation for post-secondary endeavors. The vocational department is therefore emphasizing school-to-work and tech-prep programs designed to expose students to job market requirements and to the expanding role of technology in society.

The issue of accountability goes to the heart of student achievement. The efforts to improve accountability are numerous, varied, old and new, but holding educators, students and parents accountable is an educational trend that is here to stay.

Rim country schools will continue to be pushed to change by many external forces, including new expectations for what students should learn and how they demonstrate what they have learned, new technologies and an ever-increasing information base, and new and more demands from the public and government entities.

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