Retired Educators Moving Force In New Learning Institute

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Former and active educators and community activists have joined forces to bring new learning opportunities to the Rim Country.

The Payson Institute of Learning is a nonprofit corporation. In papers filed with the state, the group said its purpose is to "enhance the educational opportunities in Payson and partner with one or more of the Arizona universities in their outreach to rural Arizona ... to supplement current efforts in education for the Payson area."

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Gary Anderson, a retired professor from Arizona State University, is among the former and active educators spearheading the new Payson Institute of Learning.

The educators on the board of directors are Jeanne M. Amundson, June Schranz, Norma Wade, Claudia Bullard and Dr. Gary Anderson. Also on the board are Su Connell, chairman of the Rim Country Literacy program, and, as ex-officio, Alice Natale.

"It is a mesh of local goals," Wade said of the creation of the institute. Among the goals: Helping young people and adults with reading and creating a resource to develop job skills and job placement.

"We are starting with an emphasis on reading," Wade said.

In that vein, the group is working to partner with Arizona State University, where Anderson spent 30 years developing reading clinics. Wade also has an extensive background in presenting reading clinics.

"The No. 1 goal is to provide service to children and adults," Anderson said. To do this, the institute will provide both diagnostic and instructional services.

Wade said the group is working closely with both Sue Myers, superintendent of the Payson Unified School District, and Linda O'Dell, Gila County superintendent of schools.

"We're working to develop a program so teachers can come and get their master's degrees from ASU," Wade said.

"We will bring the faculty and program here to provide access to area educators," Anderson added.

Currently, a survey among area educators is being conducted to see how many would be interested in taking advantage of such a program.

The target groups for the program are students in area schools and adults who need assistance with reading skills.

"The program is designed to build up skills quickly," Wade said. In the future the institute may also present job re-training programs.

Working with ASU's College of Education, the plan is to create a learning center to meet a number of needs:

  • Early Childhood Education -- Working with both children and their parents, build a love of learning, reading and social skills in the children.
  • The Learning Center -- The center will begin by augmenting reading program already underway in Payson. It will provide diagnostic testing services and suggest program to enhance the skills of a student. The center will also help those working with students.
  • New Horizons -- A program to cater to adults who might be interested in the following questions: Are you ready for a career advancement or change? What skills do you already have? How can you build on them to meet the needs of today's market?
  • Adult Interest Groups -- With the guidance of ASU faculty this program will serve as a foundation for the study of various topics.
  • Teacher Education -- Teachers can be trained and certified in everything from early childhood education to career counseling.

Representatives from the Payson Institute of Learning made a presentation on the plans and programs to the Board of Realtors today, Tuesday.

Any group, organization or individual interested in learning more may contact Norma Wade at (928) 474-2403.

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