After several months of deliberations, former teacher Betsy Fera was selected as the new executive director of Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee Foothills earlier this month.
Fera, who was also a master teacher and media specialist when she worked at HCLC from 1998-2007, was selected out of a group of candidates and will begin on July 1.
"It's an honor to be back at Horizon, I really loved working here and it will be great to come back and get to know the school and students again," she said.
Fera is currently the director of the Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP) program at Arizona State University. It is a comprehensive reform initiative, established in 1999, that was designed to improve the overall performance of teachers by doing things like adding performance-based compensation and regular professional development led by "master teachers."
HCLC was one of the pilot schools to take on TAP in 1999 and Fera was one of the original master teachers. The program has expanded nationally and gone from being implemented in four Arizona schools four years ago to 70 schools in 16 districts.
"Horizon has really been instrumental in having a role model position as the program has developed," she said. "There have been numerous schools that have come to Horizon to talk to principals and master teachers here. Part of the philosophy is reaching out."
After she left HCLC in 2007, Fera went to work with HCLC founder Larry Pieratt at the University of Public Schools, Inc.
"To come back to the school level again and being able to take what I learned and implementing it here is exciting to me," Fera said. "My heart is here and it's a special place. Knowing that I could have some part in keeping the vision of the school, it's one of the main reasons that I wanted to come back."
Bill Thompson has been the interim executive director since Jan Gleeson, co-founder of Horizon, started to develop health issues in the summer of 2010. She passed away after a battle with cancer in October. Pieratt died after his own battle with cancer in July 2009.