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Schools & Program Visits - Sept, 2000 Issue #73 

Rimrock, Arizona
Darren Prince, Admissions

Lonís Visit: April 13, 2000

Copper Canyon Academy is north from Phoenix, well before Flagstaff. I turned off the highway and drove the slow twisting road through a small scenic rural retirement community with a golf course and good sized pond where some die-hards were fishing. At the end of the road is a huge southern-style mansion that houses both the school and the living quarters. The sense of isolation that enhances the school is good because beyond the Mansion, there are uninviting rolling hills with little more than sage brush. A girl attempting to run away would stick out like a sore thumb on the long walk back to the highway.

Founded in 1997, Tammy Prince Behrmann has constructed a school for girls that is supplemented with therapy. Actually, after meeting the therapists and watching them, I felt their interactions were more along the lines of mentors and adult role models than what one would expect when conjuring up the image of therapists curing troubled girls.

There was a healthy bustle of activity the whole time I was there with girls cleaning their rooms, preparing for classes, and meeting with staff. The girls looked good and focused on their immediate tasks. Those few that did look upset were making arrangements to have a session with the staff to work on their issues. The inside of the Mansion looked and felt lived in and rather cozy. The rooms were neat and clean, communicating that its residents had some pride in living there.

I had a chance to visit with several girls without staff being present. Each had a story about what circumstances caused her to be enrolled, and about how hard it was to be there, especially at first. The consensus was that it took on the average about three to six months to give up their hope of just coasting and/or getting unenrolled, in order to really get settled there and start taking advantage of the opportunities. They laughed about how silly some of their early manipulations looked in retrospect. Even one of the girls who was still doing some of those manipulations in hopes of getting herself out of there, shared in the laughter.

The girls start their days with morning exercises, which might either be something outdoors, or some inside aerobics. Classes start at 8:30 and go to 3:00 with a break for lunch. Therapy groups are frequent and varied. Sometimes they include all 32 girls, other times they are broken up into smaller groups, depending on the kind of issues that needed to be addressed.

Copper Canyon has started the long process of applying for full accreditation through the standard Accreditation organization for Arizona the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, a process that takes years. In the meantime, they have provisional accreditation from that organization which means all course work the girls do is fully accredited and will be accepted at any other accredited school in the country. The curriculum is a mix of traditional approaches with individualized self-paced study.

The school could be described as a Whole Child School. An important part of their school philosophy is helping the girls become aware of, and focus on improving all aspects of their lives, rather than only concerning themselves with academic and mental health issues. There are five components to the curriculum: Emotional, Social, Mental, Physical and Spiritual. The schoolís approach is well thought out and individualized so that each girlís specific needs are addressed, while also teaching those basic principles that are necessary for all the girls to become complete, well-rounded people.

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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