Alternatives Available To Public Education


Students best suited for nontraditional learning will find five unconventional schools in the Rim country. They include three charter schools, one Christian school and one preschool, and they cater to a wide range of ages.

Payson Center for Success


To help students learn community involvement, teachers from the Payson Center for Success often take them on field trips, such as the annual trek to the Thomas J. Pappas School in Phoenix --he largest school for homeless children in the nation. Pictured with some of the children are students Danielle Hood, Anthony Puskaric and Jacque McAtee. Hood and McAtee graduated in 2003.

The students at Payson Center for Success High School are on a road less traveled to graduation.

The school, which was chartered by the Payson School District nearly nine years ago, provides students with an unconventional alternative to traditional high school learning. PCS is open to students ages 16 to 21, but they must have a few high school credits and be able to provide their own transportation.

The public charter school, which is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, offers a self-paced computerized learning environment with flexible class times. Students can attend morning or afternoon sessions.

To enroll, students must complete an application, participate in an interview and sign a contract that details school expectations. Parents also must participate in the enrollment process and co-sign the contract.

Once enrolled, students have the opportunity to participate in community volunteer projects and they must participate in career exploration assignments.

Students can enroll at any time of the year, but enrollment is limited to about 54 students at a time. Call (928) 472-2011 for more information.

Clearview Star Valley Middle School

The area's newest charter school, Clearview Star Valley Middle School, strives to be a "small, safe and serious school."

The school offers a wide range of math, English, science, history, literature and social studies classes.

The physical education program at Clearview encourages the development of gross and fine motor skills, social skills and sportsmanship.

Teachers work closely with parents to foster a partnership that values educational excellence.

Student progress is monitored regularly for academic achievements, study skill development and attention to social responsibilities within the school community.

For more information, call (928) 468-1401.

The Shelby School

The teachers at the Shelby School in Tonto Village, which has been operating as a public charter school for five years, have one goal in mind: to help students become happy, communicative adults who can reach their full potential.

Over the years, Shelby students in grades K-6 have enjoyed low student-teacher ratios and have participated in chess as part of the school's critical thinking curriculum.

Middle school and high school students, who've also enjoyed low student-teacher ratios and a core curriculum that includes chess, have been able to study classroom electives such as ballet, Tai Chi, equine science and Mac lab. Students also have designed student newsletters, yearbooks and websites, and participated in accelerated classes via computer-aided learning.

In addition, Shelby parents are often intimately involved in the school's daily operation, serving as administrators, teachers, coaches and drivers. For more information, call (928) 478-4706.

Payson Community Christian School

Payson Community Christian School -- a member of the Association of Christian Schools International -- has been educating students in Payson for 17 years, offering music, physical education, art and computer courses for elementary students.

Drama, foreign language, music, art, computers, mission team, prayer team and specialized electives are available for high school students.

The school, which provides a Christ-centered world view, offers Bible classes for all students.

For more information, call (928) 474-8050.

Head Start

Payson Head Start, a federally funded program, is designed to give children with disabilities and children from lower-income families a leg up in education.

The mission of Head Start is to provide children from birth to 8 years of age with comprehensive early childhood programs that will improve their chances of succeeding later in school. Head Start also provides education and support services for the students' families.

Head Start provides:

  • Development-appropriate curricula for ages 3 to 5;
  • A focus on school readiness skills and early literacy practices;
  • Complete health and developmental screenings, including follow-up exams;
  • An individualized education plan for each child;
  • Specialized services for children with disabilities;
  • Parent and guardian volunteers in the classroom;
  • An opportunity for parents and guardians to help with lesson and menu planning;
  • Monthly parent meetings, free workshops and training;
  • Assistance in establishing and working toward family goals;
  • A supportive staff that's dedicated to providing families with quality services.

For more information, call (928) 474-2738.

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