Eagles in the News! EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK Debra Terrey

Eagles in the News! EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK Debra Terrey

Q&A with VERDE VALLEY’S EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK Debra Terrey, first grade teacher, Verde Christian Academy

Longtime Verde Christian Academy teacher Deb Terrey says that teaching is the “most rewarding job I can imagine.” VVN/Bill Helm

Longtime Verde Christian Academy teacher Deb Terrey says that teaching is the “most rewarding job I can imagine.” VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – Ben Russel recently sat behind Verde Christian Academy first grade teacher Deb Terrey during the school’s chapel time.

What the school’s lead administrator noticed was a “rather energetic” former student of Terrey’s wrap an arm around the teacher’s waist. They stood together, the student and Terrey, while they sang a song.

“It was evident that this was a relationship formed deeper than most,” Russel said. The school, and its students, are “blessed to have had Mrs. Terry working with, and loving on, our elementary students for these years.”

More than 30 years in education, the past 26 at Verde Christian Academy. Terrey was in high school when she first decided that she wanted to become a teacher.

In the classroom, Terrey said that she “really enjoy[s] seeing my students learn new concepts.”

“They are very enthusiastic about learning and it is so rewarding to see the light bulb come on when they make a new connection,” Terry said. “I also thoroughly enjoy teaching piano lessons and seeing the growth that my students are making on a weekly basis.”

Terrey has a “calm and quiet classroom” with “many opportunities to learn,” Russel said.

“She blends her teaching with myriad opportunities for students to gather together in pairs and in groups to process and work together on information that they have been learning,” Russel said. “Her students are often found engaged and having fun. They love her and strive to perform well for her.”

If Terrey was not a teacher, she “would like to be a guidance counselor to help high school students as they transition into college.”

VVN: Tell us about your teaching style.

Terrey: I am really enjoying using Cooperative Learning Strategies in my classroom. The students work in small groups and every student is accountable for participating in the assignment and answering questions about what another team member’s ideas were. This is a great way to keep all the kids on task and they also learn from each other.

VVN: Tell us something notable about your career.

Terrey: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an Endorsement in Music Education.

I finished my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with a 3.95 GPA.

VVN: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Terrey: When students know that teachers care about their lives, they will strive to do their best work in class.

VVN: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

In college, I wasn’t sure if this was the profession I was best suited for.

When I started my student teaching program, I found that I loved teaching and have ever since.

I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my students and their families and I love the different ways kids think.

It is the most rewarding job I can imagine and I keep an encouragement file with notes and letters the kids have written to me over the years.

Prop 305 Yes or No?  Eagles in the NEWS 10-27-2018

Prop 305 Yes or No? Eagles in the NEWS 10-27-2018

Proposition 305: It’s all about your choice on what is best education ‘fit’ for your child

Ben Russel is the administrator of the Verde Christian Academy in Cottonwood.

Ben Russel is the administrator of the Verde Christian Academy in Cottonwood.

As a school administrator I’ve been asked numerous times about Prop 305. I am a strong supporter of school choice because I have seen its powerful effects in action. I am a supporter of school choice because it offers great benefit to all schools, including district schools. I am a supporter of school choice because of Robby.

Recently I watched young Robby stand proudly on stage. His face was filled with a shining smile. Robby was being recognized in front of our whole school. He is a great friend, always an encourager, and knows very clearly what he believes. The students clapped for him as he walked happily back to his seat.

Robby came to Verde Christian Academy very timid and shy. He had a hard time interacting with others. He wasn’t a sports guy and he wasn’t extremely academic. He had struggled to find the right fit at his previous school. His parents brought him to VCA based on the AZ tax credit program and it has made all the difference for him and his family. I have watched Robby change from a shy student to a confident and passionate one. It happened at a school that puts a lot of emphasis on helping students find their gifting and their passions.

Robby is not a perfect fit for every school. He is definitely a perfect fit at VCA. In most states, Robby’s family would not have been able to choose to send him to a private school. This is because Robby’s family struggles financially. In the past, only families with extra income could afford to pay school taxes as well as tuition for their children.

Poorer families were forced to go to their closest district school. Thanks to Arizona’s strong stance on school choice, many families like Robby’s have the ability to choose between a number of quality schools; district, charter, private, or home school.

More and more families are realizing what a powerful thing school choice is. Our school is increasingly serving families of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds as a result of our unique mission and vision. Other schools are doing the same. Watching whole families flower under a school that fits their vision is unbelievably fulfilling for an administrator. This relatively young program in Arizona is having a great effect on our students.

Here are some facts about school choice based on the research of Edchoice.Org.

• Every fiscal study looking at school choice has found either positive or no effect on a state. This means most programs save the state money (effectively allowing more dollars per student to be invested in public ed).

• Nearly all academic studies of school choice programs have found that they drives academic improvement in district schools

• Arizona is the only state to improve on all 8 NAEP exams from 2009-2015

• Most studies on parent choice found that school choice programs increased students’ civic values including tolerance, volunteering, and voting.

School choice saves the state money, which can then be put back into public schools. School choice increases parents’ overall satisfaction with schooling. School choice also raises student performance in district schools. This is an important program for our district schools.

It is unfortunate that so much misinformation surrounds school choice in Arizona.

School choice is in no way about attacking our district schools. They are an extremely important part of our community. We have had the fortune to work closely with our local district schools here in the Verde Valley and they are passionate about students and their progress. District schools need our support and proper funding. This is about choice.

Why did you choose your bank? Your grocery store? Your cell phone? The pants you are wearing? Because someone worked hard to make them your BEST FIT!

Whether it is Prop 305 or other school choice initiatives, let’s come together as a community around the idea that we all support a family’s right to choose the best fit for their child.

Ben Russel is the administrator of the Verde Christian Academy in Cottonwood.

Tax Credit Scholarship Program – The Facts

Tax Credit Scholarship Program – The Facts

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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.