About Us


In 1948, a school was founded in Queen Creek, Arizona 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, which sought to help at-risk children and adolescents to develop self-respect and self-confidence while providing vital social, educational and vocational skills which allowed youth to return to their communities as productive young adults.

A strong athletic legacy took root–which continues at Canyon State Academy to present day–in part, because of the involvement of Frank Kush as the Executive Administrator of the Advisory Board. The athletic complex which bore his name on CSA’s campus housed a football program, which, once established in 1995, ran three undefeated seasons.

In 2000, Canyon State Academy revised its residential program to offer academic, career and technical training, athletics and evidence-based treatment curricula to give at-risk youth opportunities to improve their lives.

Today, the Canyon State Academy campus has continued to grow into an innovative and effective treatment program for youth. The wide continuum of programming is possible through numerous community partnerships which includes Sun Valley Community Church, government agencies, stakeholders, businesses and universities. The Canyon State Academy School is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is approved by the State of Arizona as a “Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organization.”

Rite of Passage

Canyon State Academy is operated by Rite of Passage, a leading National provider of evidence-based therapeutic and educational programs for youth. Rite of Passage provides a diverse continuum of care with evidence-based programs in education, youth shelter programs, family and community aftercare and intensive treatment for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

For over 35 years, Rite of Passage has been improving the lives of youth. Through its work at Canyon State and other academy programs, Rite of Passage has developed the Integrated Care Model framework to articulate its program philosophy, methodology, and specific evidence-based practices.


The Integrated Care Model is the framework for Canyon State Academy's programming and services. Beginning with a foundation of safety, accomplished through caring relationships, qualified and trained staff, fosters a culture where students can learn.

Staff model pro-social skills, utilize the appropriate amount of empathy and provide youth with problem resolution skills. Assessments identify individual student needs and strengths and develop their intrinsic motivation for change.

Evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions help students develop skills to overcome aggression, disruptive behavior, and heal from traumatic events in their lives. Since many of the students will return home, family involvement and treatment are provided at an appropriate intensity.

The normalized environment enables each student to develop and practice skills in the therapeutic, academic, vocational, health/wellness, family and community activities. Through these experiences, the student gains competencies and skills to attain Treatment Plan goals; then, new goals are established and the process of positive change is moved forward, creating a new vision and hope for the youth.

Meet Our Qualified Team

Brian Heath holds a Master’s degree in Social Sciences and has over 26 years of experience in leadership roles in the human services field. Passionate about improving the lives of youth with a focus on Community Integration, Brian conceptualized and implemented the Village at Canyon State.

Brian Heath
Executive Director

Bio coming soon!

Jason Lane
Program Director

Erin Kelsey holds a Master's degree in Mental Health and Clinical Counseling and is in the process of completing her Doctoral degree in Intergrated Behavioral Health Services. Erin brings 20 years of experience in the field of mental health, program development, and working towards a collaborative environment for all stakeholders.

Erin Kelsey
Director of Student Services

Bio coming soon!

Rachman Crable
Director of Culture and Operations

Bridget Carrington holds a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. Bridget has 25 years of experience as a School Administrator. She is a passionate leader with a fierce sense of student advocacy and a cultivator of educators to become highly effective in the art and science of teaching.

Bridget Carrington
Regional Education Director

Susan Manning holds a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and a Master's in Teacher Leadership. She comes to us with 15 years of business experience and 8 years of classroom experience and is excited to create community partners that provide support to all of our programs.

Susan Manning
Community & Business Development Director

Karla Beikman comes to Canyon State Academy with a Bachelor's of Applied Science and nearly 10 years of experience in the field of Social and Youth Services. With a background in case management, she is looking forward to continuing her work with youth and furthering her passions for giving them the tools they need to become better people, who thrive in their communities.

Karla Beikman
Regional Compliance Director

Keri Loo holds a bachelor’s degree in University Studies with a concentration in Psychology. She is passionate about creating a diverse workforce, helping people reach their career goals, and improving the lives of youth.

Keri Loo
Senior District HR Director

Tracey graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education-Learning Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University. With over 20 years of experience serving schools in Wisconsin and Arizona as a teacher/administrator, Tracey is looking forward to being a collaborative leader and developing relationships with teachers and students in her new role as Principal at Canyon State Academy.

Tracey Gunderson