Helping Parents Help Their Children


It is an exciting time in education, at least to hear Sarah Nelson talk.

The Gila Community College non-credit office, which Nelson supervises, and the Payson Unified School District are working together to provide parenting classes for Rim country residents.

"This is the very first time we've done something like this," Nelson said. "It is part of the No Student Left Behind program."

The parenting classes, All Star Families, begin in September. The meetings are Tuesdays, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the college.

"This is available to parents or anyone in the child-care industry," Nelson said. While the program is non-credit, professionals required to attend classes to maintain their child services credentials can receive a certificate of participation from the program.

The classes will be offered for 10 weeks. Parents can take selected topics or attend all 10 programs. The cost is $5 per adult or $8 per couple, and financial assistance is available.

"If someone wants a scholarship for the classes, they need to get in touch with us immediately," Nelson said. Registration materials are available at the college.

Nelson and Christy Walton have worked for the past four months to develop the program, Nelson said. They took an interesting approach to deciding what classes to offer.

"We decided on our topics first, then went looking for someone to teach them," Nelson said. The topics offered during the 10-week program are designed to provide information to both traditional and blended families and families with children of varying ages, she said.

Walton said all the instructors have experience with both child care and teaching. The teachers are:

  • Cindy Chovich, who will teach "Helping your child enjoy success in school," is a school teacher at Frontier Elementary School.
  • Jean Oliver, who will teach "Apply discipline techniques that work," "Sibling rivalry," and "Successful parenting strategies," is the transition coordinator for the Time Out Shelter.
  • Terri Legassie, teaches pre-school for Julia Randall Elementary and has taught parenting classes for years. She will be teaching "Mastering family communications" and "Building your child's self-esteem."
  • Karen Wartick, is a retired teacher who has been teaching Department of Economic Security parenting classes. She will instruct program participants on "Setting positive priorities," and "Know What to expect -- child development."
  • Nancy Althoff, a retired counselor from Payson High School and a volunteer with the family literacy program, is teaching "Living peacefully in a blended family."
  • Monica Nitzsche, principal for the Payson High School's Center for Success, will teach "Surviving your adolescent."

Brochures on the classes are all over town, or Nelson can give you additional information. She can be reached via e-mail at

"The beauty is the flexibility. They don't have to sign up for the whole 10 weeks," Nelson said.

There is a second aspect of the program: establishing a resource center where parents can get additional information, Nelson said.

The goal is to have parenting classes that are affordable, convenient, specific, practical, flexible, rewarding, useful and fun.

The classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 2. Those interested may register now at the college, or they can wait until 24 hours before the class to reserve a space.

For more information, call Nelson at (928) 468-8039, or Walton at (928) 978-1478.

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