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

Paul McCurtain holds a Master’s degree in Education and has been working in the Human Services field and working with youth for over 18 years. The majority of Paul’s career has been in management and leadership while providing an abundance of energy and motivation to everyone that he meets.

Paul McCurtain
Program Director

Dr. Amanda Collins holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her areas of interest include behavioral management, program development, and implementing evidence-based practices. Dr. Collins is committed to an integrated whole health care approach to behavioral health services.

Dr. Amanda Collins
Clinical Director

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

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

Dana Bennett holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working with youth. Dana is certified in the University of Cincinnati (UC) Substance Abuse curriculum, successfully completed UC's comprehensive leadership curriculum, Core Correctional Practices, and is a certified trainer for Thinking for a Change and ROP’s Essential Subjects.

Dana Bennett
Regional Quality Assurance Manager

Tracy Bentley holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration concentrating in Management. Tracy has been in management and leadership roles for over 24 years, with 20 years dedicated to Human Resources and optimizing talent.

Tracy Bentley
Regional Human Resources Director

Mike Petrella holds a Master’s degree in Cross Categorical Special Education and is actively pursuing a second Master’s degree in Education Administration. Mike has over 15 years of experience working in human services and is committed to providing CSA’s education department with continued leadership and success.

Michael Petrella
Principal