The full time school is a small high school community designed to not exceed the ratio of one teacher per six students. The purpose is to create a physically and emotionally safe environment focusing on student success, both in school as well as after graduation. Each student’s curriculum is developed on an individualized basis, considering their academic history as well as their goals for the future.

School Programs
Our full-time high school is available to students on a year-round basis, with continuous enrollment to meet the individual needs of our students.

Programs are individually developed to meet the needs of the student. Coursework is planned to reflect Arizona State Standards as well as the unique needs of each student. Our curriculum and classes are nationally accredited by North Central Association.

Students who have deficiencies from other schools are able to make up those classes as well as enroll in new ones. Pacing is individualized to allow students to cover coursework as quickly as they are able or as slowly as necessary.

Enrichment opportunities are integrated on a weekly basis. Past activities have included: life skills, equine therapy, hiking, kite making, silk screening and back-stage tours of the Desert Museum and the zoo.

The school at Desert Willow provides a physically and emotionally safe environment for learners. Students who have learning disabilities, ADHD/ADD, Aspergers, or who are under-achievers can receive a high-quality education that focuses on their learning strengths.

Desert Willow’s curriculum focuses on the development of skills in reading, writing, math, and learning strategies as outlined in the Arizona State Standards. Accommodations and modifications are provided for those students who require them. This includes anything from individualized course instruction to advanced-placement classes. As a part of their schedule, students participate in computer-skills classes, art projects, and weekly field trips with an emphasis on outdoor education and culture.

The acquisition of academic skills is obtained by providing small group instruction — 1:6 ratio of teachers to students. Subjects are taught with an emphasis on the use of Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences so that students can experience learning through the use of their strengths.

In order to instill a sense of belonging, students learn how to become a valued and respected member of their school community. Social skills development is emphasized as an integrated part of the school day. Part of the social development curriculum is taken from the “Tribes” program. Through this program, students learn to live and work cooperatively. Group exercises focus on developing a sense of respect and compassion for one’s self and others as well as an appreciation of individual differences.

Desert Willow Educational Services has been in business since 1998. It was started by Deborah Blackman, who has taught special education to students in 3rd through 12th grades for over 20 years. She is Arizona Certified to work with students with learning and emotional disabilities.

Desert Willow is accredited through the North Central Association and has been offering accredited classes for high school and middle school students for five years.

Educational Services Sections

"Desert Willow is the perfect fit for our son. The teachers approach him and his work with great care. The teaching and materials are dynamic. Our son’s writing has greatly improved, the field trips were interesting, and all the kids work really well together. As our son himself said, it was the best school year he ever had!” – Elizabeth G.