About Us

History

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 Academic Model™ framework to articulate its program philosophy, methodology, and specific evidence-based practices.

THE ACADEMIC MODEL™

The Academic 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
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Elizabeth Porter holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services/Management and has over 10 years of experience at ROP. Ms. Porter is a certified facilitator in evidence-based curricula including University of Cincinnati Substance Abuse Curriculum and Thinking for a Change, as well as ROP’s Essential Subjects. Ms. Porter has also served on the Maricopa County Task Force for victims of human trafficking.

Elizabeth Porter
Program Director
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Jill Follensbee holds a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling with an LPC and has over 17 years in the behavioral health field that includes working with youth in both an RTC and Outpatient setting. Jill completed the UC Berkeley High-Impact Leadership Program and has also served on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Counselor Association.

Jill Follensbee
Clinical Director
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Tim Gloston holds a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Wellness and a Minor in Therapeutic Wellness. He has nearly 20 years of experience at Rite of Passage and served in the United States Army. Tim is a certified facilitator in evidence-based curricula as well as ROP’s Essential Subjects. He is also an accredited trainer for JKM Safe Crisis Management.

Tim Gloston
Director of Culture and Operations
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Dr. Barnes has approximately 20 years in education working with various grades and school types. Holding a Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Education Leadership, Dr. Barnes has a specific focus in the field of students achieving academically through adversity as well as research of the effects of historical and current societal trauma on student academic achievement. Dr. Barnes has worked with several colleges and universities and offers his talents in motivational and public speaking in the community.

Dr. George Barnes
Principal
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Marie Culpepper holds a degree in Organizational Psychology and Personnel Management, and brings 25 years of experience with public/private partnerships, many of those in community development, ensuring mutually agreed upon goals and objectives are met.

Marie Culpepper
Community & Business Development Director
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Ms. David has a BA in Psychology and a MS in Psychology with a concentration in Mental and Behavioral Health. She brings eight years' experience in the mental and behavioral health field including three years' experience working as a Therapeutic Manager. Ms. David is well-versed in Arizona contract and licensing requirements, as well as CARF standards, and has extensive experience with licensing audits.

Tanner David
Regional Compliance Director
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Our Regional Human Resources Director has over 20 years of human resource and legal experience. Holding a Master’s in Human Resources with an emphasis in Global Management and currently serving as a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, she continues to look for new and innovative ways to drive culture while mitigating the risks to the company in order to serve our at-risk youth with the highest degree of integrity and compliance.

Shauna Young
Regional Human Resource Director

Dr. Philip Geiger is a graduate of Teachers College-Columbia University with his Doctorate and two Master’s degrees, he also has an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Geiger is a former public school superintendent and agency director for the State of Arizona and has held executive positions in the private sector for many years. He is an accomplished and published nationally recognized industry expert.

Dr. Phil Geiger
Regional Education Director