Newly minted Payson Elementary School (PES) Principal Asa Hall’s mother ran a Montessori pre-kindergarten school as Hall grew up. When he hit high school, Hall helped entertain the little ones out on the playground.
“She ran the school for 20 years,” he said.
Working with his mom solidified Hall’s calling in education and has set him up to understand what Payson Elementary School’s students need. He believes working with little children ensures our future.
After joining the military out of high school, Hall went to Northern Arizona University and graduated with a degree in education studies.
He first taught fourth-grade students in Phoenix, but then moved into teaching first grade for three years and returned to the fourth-grade classroom.
“I got to teach my first-graders again,” he said.
It was a wonderful way to see what they had built on the foundation he had given them in first grade.
“I told my fourth-graders, ‘Read to learn,’” he said. Hall understands that children in the lower grades first learn to read and by third grade are reading to learn.
From those early years of teaching, Hall went on to become an instructional coach in his Phoenix district. His duties mimicked what the new student achievement teachers will do in the Payson Unified School District this year.
“You go into classrooms to observe and share new information and strategies (with teachers),” he said.
He said the position kept him connected to the students through his tag-team teaching with the teachers.
The schools Hall worked for in Phoenix at 47th Avenue and Mountain View, had a similar socio-economic make up as Payson. A lot of students were on free and reduced lunches. Most of the schools he worked at were Title I schools, a federal designation that indicates the number of low-income students.
Four years ago, Hall became the principal of the district he worked for in Phoenix, but he pined for the small-town atmosphere.
Hall grew up in Vail, Ariz. before it mushroomed into the size it is now.
And Hall loves the outdoors, especially fly-fishing.
He jumped at the chance to move to Payson to work at a small-town school and help improve the reading levels of its students.
He also hopes to see more of his family, most of who live in Tucson.
“My mom already said she’ll come to visit me soon,” he said. “She only visited me a couple of times all the years I lived in Phoenix.”
Hall said his first two weeks in Payson have been wonderful and he is ready for school to start.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve met every teacher and they are all busy getting their rooms together,” he said. “I’m fully staffed and ready to go.”