Eagles in the News! Rhonda Johnson EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK! 5-29-18

Eagles in the News! Rhonda Johnson EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK! 5-29-18


Preschool assistant director, Technology Teacher, Librarian Verde Christian Academy Cottonwood

In her eighth year at Verde Christian Academy, Rhonda Johnson is the school’s assistant preschool director, technology teacher and librarian. (Photo by Bill Helm)

In her eighth year at Verde Christian Academy, Rhonda Johnson is the school’s assistant preschool director, technology teacher and librarian. (Photo by Bill Helm)

COTTONWOOD – Jack of all trades, master of none. Nobody at Verde Christian Academy would say this about Rhonda Johnson.

As the school’s assistant preschool director, technology director and librarian, Johnson wears “a lot of hats and wears them all well,” said Ben Russell, the school’s lead administrator.

“Mrs. Johnson’s skills vary from teaching and loving on preschoolers, to teaching technology class and managing the library,” Russell said. “These myriad responsibilities necessitate a lot of skills and talents on her part.”

To handle a variety of tasks at the proverbial drop of a hat, it helps that Johnson is “always calm and has a positive outlook,” Russell said.

“She is a passionate gift-giver and often showers staff with blessings and gifts,” Russell said. “She brings a great spirit to our staff, spreading cheer like Arizona sunshine.”

In her fifth year at Verde Christian Academy, her eighth year as an educator, Johnson did not know until college that she wanted to teach.

“In high school I told everyone that I just wanted to be a good mom,” Johnson said. “When I went to college, I went into Elementary Education. Now part of my teaching is the littlest (preschool) and feel like I am now able to be a mama to my littles, as I call them.”

What Johnson likes most about her work is the “variety of subjects and students that I get to teach and reach.”


Johnson said that her teaching style is “inquiry based.”

“In preschool, I allow my students to do centers that are open to them using a variety of developmentally appropriate items and letting them discover how to use them,” Johnson said. “This open center time is over half of their time in preschool each day and also leads to differentiated instruction, play-based learning, and kinesthetic learning. These are all vital parts of a child’s learning and development.”


“In the area of education, this public award of educator of the week would be my first notable recognition.”


“We are not born with empathy. We have to be taught it.”


Johnson is a third-generation teacher. Her mother and grandmother were teachers.

Tax Credit Scholarship Program – The Facts

Tax Credit Scholarship Program – The Facts

Image result for acsto

May 1st, 2018

Tax Credit Scholarship Program – The Facts

First of all, we want to thank each of you for your commitment to Christian Education and the emphasis you place on your students first. We realize the sacrifices the administration, office staff, teacher aides, and teachers make to provide a strong academic learning environment that is centered on Truth and spreading the Good News.

Over the last several weeks, we have all seen what is happening in our public schools across the state. Overall, we agree that teachers are underpaid in this state, and we pray this will be rectified quickly. We also recognize that personnel at Christian schools in this state are further underpaid by at least 10-20% compared to the teacher in the public school system. Again, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for pouring into your students’ lives and having an impact that has an eternal value!

Over the last week, ACSTO has seen the attacks in news publications and on social media that suggest scholarship tax credits somehow have contributed to issues relating to public education funding in Arizona. This is a false narrative that the opponents of school choice want people to believe.

The truth is that scholarship tax credits help public school funding. The average cost to taxpayers for district and charter public school students is about $9,500 per year from all sources (state general fund, federal funds, local property taxes).  This information comes from the 6/26/2017 Joint Legislative Budget Committee report, “Overview of K-12 Per Pupil Funding for School Districts and Charter Schools.

According to the most recent Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR), School Tuition Organization Tax Credits in Arizona Summary of Activity: FY 2015/2016 report, the following information was derived:

  • 352 Private Schools receive tax credit scholarships
  • The Average Original Tax Credit Scholarship – $1,724.00
  • The Average Overflow Tax Credit Scholarship – $1,360.00
  • The Average Low-Income Tax Credit Scholarship – $2,165.00
  • The Average Disabled/Displaced Tax Credit Scholarship – $4,696.00

The average scholarship from individual and corporate scholarship tax credit sources is roughly $2,500 per student. Corporate source funded scholarships are slightly above the average and individual funded ones slightly below.

As you can see, the average scholarship ($2,500) is far less than what the public/charter schools receive ($9,500) on a per student basis in funding, this is savings to the tax payer at the expense of parents with children in private schools. If all of the students enrolled in Private schools were to enroll in the public school system it would cost the State of Arizona more than half a billion dollars to educate these children. There would not be enough schools, classrooms, teachers, or resources available. For each child enrolled in a private school, the state of Arizona and School Districts are saving money. There are at least 50,000 students enrolled in private schools, which is a very conservative estimate.

According to the ADOR FY 2015 and FY 2017 Annual Reports, the following information about tax payers and tax credits was obtained for FY 2015, which is the most recent information available:

  • 2015: 3,227,067 Individual Tax Filers
  • 92,554 contributed to the Individual Tax Credit program (3% of all tax payers)
  • Of the 92,554, 41,532 also contributed to the Overflow Tax Credit program (2% of all tax payers)
  • 168,752 contributed to the Public School Tax Credit Program (6% of all tax payers)

There is an erroneous belief by some that the STO program takes money from the general fund. The truth is that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in ACSTO v Winn that the donations made to STOs are private funds, not state funds, which means that the money never belonged to the state in the first place.

The bottom line is that scholarship tax credits are a benefit to the state budget. They are part of the solution – not part of any funding problem.

Please let us know if you have questions and we will continue to provide you with as much information as possible that you can share with your supporters, staff, and families.