Keeping students completely engaged with everyday curriculum can be a relentless process, but Kyrene Traditional Academy (KTA) offers a more old school approach when it comes to learning.

This will be the second year that KTA, 3375 W. Galveston St., has been a part of the Kyrene School District, and is the first traditional school in the district.

Principal Dr. Marianne Lescher said KTA has some different structural components within the school where students are given different curriculum in reading and math, there is a dress code policy where all students are required to wear uniforms, and more rigorous homework is given out.

Other additions to the school is a National Honors Society for students in fourth and fifth grade, along with Panther Academy, an after-school enrichment program being taught by the school’s teachers.

“We’re really trying to add lots of enrichment and higher level rigor kinds of opportunities during the school days and before and after school,” Lescher said.

What sets traditional schools apart from non-traditional school is one key ingredient: a directional model teacher’s use to instruct classes.

During half of the school day, instructors stand in front of the class where they teach a very specific direction in the subjects of reading, language and mathematics, Lescher said.

Instead of having desks crammed together in small groups, the layout of each class at KTA has each student desks aligned left to right from one another, facing the front of the class.

“They are engaging in what you can think of as traditional-instructional models,” Lescher said.

The two traditional-instructional models taught at KTA are the Spalding Reading and Saxon Mathematics models, where students use a more traditional learning approach by absorbing what the teacher’s teaching in a more solo-learning form.

The Spalding Reading gives each student a more comprehensive way of learning how to read and write by breaking down each word frame by frame.

Students are expected to complete different activities during Spalding Reading, with the class duration hitting nearly 90 minutes.

Parent involvement

Student expectation isn’t the only component KTA administration is interested in.

The school also focuses on parent involvement, where each parent must sign a contract binding them to five hours of volunteering throughout the school term.

“It could be helping out with the classroom, it could be helping with the reading group, or helping with the PTO meetings,” Lescher said.

Parents are also subjected to attend four events over the course of the school year from Meet the Teacher Night, Curriculum Night and two parent conferences.

“In other schools those are all expectations, but we actually have them sign a contract to have them say ‘Yes, I really want this level of participation, and this level of involvement,’” Lescher said. “All of these things permeate our whole school.”

Lescher added that other schools do have parent expectations, but what Panther parents really enjoy is their involvement with the school is expected.

The school holds each parent responsible in staying an active member of the KTA by keeping track of what they have been involved with and by phoning parents.

With the level of academic rigor each student goes through and the level of parent involvement each parent is accountable for, Lescher believes that’s what separates KTA from the heard.

Ahwatukee families are also getting the full KTA experience, with more than 10 families signing up their children to be a Panther.

Ronald Reyes, who lived in Ahwatukee when he and his wife signed their two children up at KTA, enjoys the fact parents are accountable for school involvement.

Originally from California, Reyes said when hearing about KTA and how it was structurally set up, picking the school was a no brainer.

“You’re required to be an involved parent and everybody does it,” Reyes said. “It’s a very good thing.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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