The history of the Castle Valley Center
taken from an article entitled
"The Power of One Person A History of Ann Self School" - written by C.A. Hamaker
Castle Valley Day Care and Training Center was officially organized on December 12, 1960 by Mrs. Ann Self with a board of Dr. Dina Bayer, Mrs. Garth Frandsen, Mr. C.W. Peterson, Mr. v. Edwa D. Bates, Mrs. Evelyn Larson, Mr. Carlos Larson, and Mr. Boyd Bunnell. Four advisory councils were also formed. Their operating funds totaled $1,888, with pledges of about $1,000 more.
First classes were held March 1, 1961 at a home located at 30 East First South, in Price, UT with eight to ten children. They used this house for about one and a half years on a temporary basis from the County Commission. It must have taken great courage for these first students parents' to bring their children out when public opinion was that they should be institutionalized, not taught.
The Center, locally known as "The Opportunity Center", then moved into a more permanent building on September 3, 1962. The County provided the site located at 113 South Carbon Avenue in Price. They also provided the heat, lights, and water. Donations and tuition from 16 students provided for all else. Within a year, a much needed fenced yard and play equipment were installed.
Mrs. Ann Self had a warm personal relationship with the children of the center by the time she became ill in the summer of 1963. By spring, she had to turn the directorship over the Marcheta Pierucci. Ann Self died on July 14, 1964, leaving us a legacy of caring and devotion. Soon after, a memorial fund was started in her name for a new building that would be needed some time in the future.
In the fall of 1964, under the new directorship, the school divided the students of the Center into two groups; an older group that received self-care and vocational training, and a younger group whose students had a broader life skills curriculum. Tuition increased to $20.00 per month, per student; and those students who qualified from Emery County were invited to attend if they provided their own transportation. This was a good move. By the spring of 1965, enrollment increased to 27 students and was the real start of the Castle Valley Workshop.
The Price Kiwanis Club donated the first school bus about 1967. The station wagon they had been using was just too small for the 27 kids that were attending. The students were growing in numbers each year and a new building would be needed some time in the future, partially due to the planned demolition of their current building. In October 1968, the School Board thought the old Carbon Hopsital-west wing would be a good new site, but Pierucci had her eye on the old Spring Glen Elementary School building.
A new law brought changes to the Center due to a new Kennedy Administration bill that provided free education to ALL children between the ages of 5 and 21. In Utah, the bill went into effect July 1, 1971. The Carbon County School District, with the Emery County School District, were now required to take over the management of the school. Tuition at Ann Self Training School stopped and they moved to the old Spring Glen Elementary School.
This is where Pierucci had already arranged for them to be before the new law. She had gone so far as to institute changes to the building that were needed, such as ramps. She had started the move when the law went into effect, though students had not yet attended classes in the new building. Pierucci would not be director at the new location, because they now needed a Certified Director to meet the requirements by the state for a Public School.
Ann Self Training School started a new curriculum in September 1971 under the leadership of the new director, Dan Wells. This new curriculum put the emphasis on academics, unlike the old program that put the emphasis on self-care skills. "With the proper programs, most of these students can learn to read," Secretary Gloria Skerl heard Director Dan Wells say on many occasions. Wells supported Distar Phonics, Reading, and Math programs against the popular opinion that his students could never learn to read, because he said, it builds a firm foundation for life.
The school's first certified teacher, Bill Jensen also agreed that they could be taught to read and write. He said that when he started in 1972, there wasn't even chalk for the chalkboards and that the school had to check out the needed reading books to teach class, or make them. He said that it seemed that no one would buy teaching materials for these students that wasn't considered "survival training."
Gloria Skerl, who started work with Dan Wells, said there was so much stuff moved over from the old building before they formally started that the classrooms had to be cleaned out so class could be held. She said that the general feeling from the former staff was the students could be taught but that they could not be main-streamed into society. She felt they were wrong, as time would prove.
The Castle Valley Workshop, now separate from the school age students, had to be self-supporting, although it was still located in the same building as the school age students. While the school district could give donations they could not support them wholly. Their main means of support now came from craft sales and contracts, as well as from other donations.
Within a year, Wells helped the workshop join the State Sheltered Workshop Association, and then they opened year-round. The employees now received a paycheck or tokens for their work in ceramics and loomed rag rugs.
These did not form a good sales inventory. They needed more items to sell, so they received a grant to make coal miner lamps and desk sets, with wood bases made by the workers. Mr. Jim Young of the College of Eastern Utah made the first mold for the miner, nicknamed Big John. Later they added a quilt shop that also made Christmas tree skirts. Because many of these items were Christmas related, the shop soon became known as "The Other Santa's Workshop," and the adults in the program "Santa's Helpers."
Most of these sales were seasonal and did not cover all the funding needs. More money was found in the form of service contracts. Mr. Wells had his hands full, for what worked in earning money for a center in the big cities, did not work here; such as, running a motel maid service. Mr. Wells had to work hard to find different local service contracts to support the workshop. The best contracts he found were preparing cheese for reprocessing for Cache Valley, assembling gift baskets, and operating a laundry for the school district. Some of these worked so well that they were copied by other state workshops.
Skills such as safety, dependability and honesty were being taught as well as the vocational skills at the workshop, through the production of these marketable goods and piecemeal contracts. To aid in teaching dependability, a time clock was added in March of 1973.
Two activities came into being for the students of the Center once the school was fully staffed; Special Olympics and Recitals. Programs put on for the parents included songs, skits and dance. The parents were impressed that their students could do something as challenging as this, just like normal students.
Special Olympics originated in the county in 1969, with a single class under the direction of Raymond Rachele, and were promoted at the school for the first time in the spring of 1972. He and Wells worked together to give all students who qualified in both Carbon and Emery Counties, as well as students at the school, a chance to participate. They held fall, winter, and spring Olympics, until they grew too big.
The word "Training" in the school's name was dropped early in 1975, thus it became Ann Self School. Two years later, in the spring of 1977, Tonita Crookston became the first Preschool Teacher. This program was funded by Utah State Social Services, but taught by Carbon School District. These two-and-a-half through five year old's, were given special help in self-care skills and speech therapy. Although most moved to the regular classroom at age five, enrollment was only a small percentage of what it should have been.
Crookston held her job as Preschool Teacher for only one semester before she became the principal and she pushed for all the teachers to be certified. Many of these new teachers brought highly successful programs to the classrooms. These were added to the highly successful Distar Reading and Chi-San-Bop Math classes that Jensen taught. Jensen saw the math being done by three-year-olds on TV and so he added it to his academic program after researching it.
A majority of students were now reading at a 3rd grade level, and this proved that most of the students could progress beyond the self-care stage. If they started earlier, many could be main-streamed.
The special Ann Self Memorial Account had grown to over $10,000 since it started in 1964, and had been left untouched because a new building was no longer needed due to the new law. The School Board elected to give the money to the College of Eastern Utah as an Ann Self Memorial Scholarship in 1978. The Board felt that by using the interest on the principal as the scholarship, the name of Ann Self will live on and on, and that this was proper as the account was a memorial fund. But many felt that the funds were for the kids, and they should have had a direct, tangible benefit. But the Board had already acted, so it was a moot point.
By the early eighties, other regular activities joined the Special Olympics for these loving people; 4-H, an Artist in Residence Program, bowling and others. But bowling became the favorite activity of the Center, held at times at both local alleys since its start in January 1981. The Artist in Residency Program hosted many artists. Some were Wayne Geary in painting, Jane McDonald in sculpting and Lyyn Kosland, Lisa Roll and Anne Riordan in Dancing. These, and other activities, such as trips to the State Fair, Ice Capades, and camping out with a local scout troop, taught some 22 special adults, as well as the school age students how to behave in public, along with confidence, dexterity and eye-hand coordination.
In the fall of 1985 the Carbon County School Board felt that the school needed a new building. It was estimated that 80 to 100 students would soon be attending the Center and they would tax the current building. And the building was old, built in 1972. Some of the problems just couldn't be remodeled out. Nor could it handle all the new technology that was coming into being, such as the first computer the school had just gained for those who lacked verbal skills.
When the land on Cedar Hills Drive was donated by Zions Bank in 1986, the School Board decided to rename the Center. The new name was to be the Carbon-Emery Exceptional Child Center, because the School District now had a policy not to name schools after people. For a year, the family of the late Ann Self and others who felt that there were many good reasons for not changing the name talked to the Board. The Board finally decided on keeping the names Ann Self School and Castle Valley Workshop. Both together, with the preschool, it would be called the Castle Valley Center.
Edna Romano was named the new principal in May 1987 and started with a new school year in August. But the new building was yet completed. In October of 1987, when it was finished, they promptly moved in and voted on a school mascot and school colors. The colors became white and purple and the mascot the unicorn. This was the first year that they held summer school and had a formal Graduation Ceremony to present Certificates of Completion to those moving out of the school curriculum and into adult services. The preschool was also allowed to participate.
The school as a whole became very civic minded under Romano, always looking for ways that they could give as well as receive. They started to contribute to a yearly tree and other Christmas items to the Salt Lake Festival of Trees that went to benefit the Primary Children's Medical Center. Many felt this was a nice way to give back to a place that they had benefited from and provided for them a a forum to show off their work.
In the early nineties, they put up a plaque at Solder Summit through grants and started a letter writing campaign to make Coal the official rock of Utah. This letter writing campaign went so well that the whole school went to Salt Lake in 1994 to watch as the Governor signed the bill. Two years later the Center was responsible for Copper becoming the State mineral, and for reducing the fishing license to five dollars for those with mental disabilities.
The Boy Scout Troop chartered to the center was formed in the fall of 1990. Troop #855 has turned out three Eagle Scouts to date*(Many more since then). Many of these scouts have gained the self-esteem to work outside the Center and in the community.
It has helped that community opinion has also changed about these people, and in response to this public opinion has changed. Around 1994, the Center shifted gears to get these adults into outside work instead of employment within the Center. More and More of these adults are accepted into the everyday work field, and are enjoying it.
In the summer of 1995, Edna Romano retired, and the center received a new Principal, Michael C. Keller. Mr. Keller has worked as workshop instructor, foreman and supervisor since 1977, and was an integral part of the changes to the adult age program since Mrs. Crookston hired him.
Mr. Keller has since changed the school mascot and school colors. The school mascot is now a rainbow trout, with the school motto being "Hooked on Excellence." The school colors are Royal Blue and White, in coordination with Carbon High School. As you enter our school you will see many logos and symbols reflecting Mr. Keller's love for fishing, and personality around the school. One of the highlights of our extended school year (summer school) is Fishing day, for people with disabilities, sponsored by the Forest Service.
With a student body close to 140, we find a remodel in our near future. This is an exciting to be at the Castle Valley Center.