Desert Heights Academy is divided into general classes:  Elementary, Junior High, and High School.  Upon enrollment, students receive an orientation consisting of a review of our program, rules and procedures, and expectations.  This orientation is designed to set each student up for success.  Following the orientation, students are given a ‘Welcome Tour’ of our program, meeting the staff and familiarizing themselves with the building.
  • ENGAGED TEACHING: The staff at DHA uses engaged teaching techniques with SMART Board technology.  These particular techniques offer a powerful way of motivating students to learn and expand their knowledge.
  • VOYAGER MATH: Vmath creates confident, independent learner in Math.  Many students need extra support to succeed in math and pass high-stakes tests.  VMath fills critical learning gaps with a balanced, systematic approach, combining print materials, robust assessment and online technology.
  • VOYAGER LANGUAGE:  This comprehensive literacy curriculum is an intensive mastery-based language arts intervention that targets the needs of non-readers, struggling readers and English learners.  It accelerates them to grade-level proficiency by utilizing a sequential, cumulative, skill-based instructional format that addresses all learning styles.
  • LINDAMOOD-BELL LEARNING PROCESS: The development of reading skills is very important for students to make the transition toward success in the real world.  Desert Heights Academy utilizes the Seeing Stars, Symbol Imagery for Fluency, Orthography, Sight Words, and Spelling as well as the Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking programs.



Desert Oasis, a Desert Heights Academy program, was created to fill the need for all-inclusive instruction for students with mild to severe intellectual and developmental disabilities including Autism, Down Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury and Other Health Impairments. Desert Oasis is designed to meet the individual needs of each student through the use of high quality academics, community based learning experiences, positive behavior interventions, integrated transition planning, social skills development, job preparation, and independent living skills.
  • A key component of the Desert Oasis Program is the utilization of the STRUCTURED TEACHING MODEL. Four elements are considered when developing Oasis classrooms: physical environment, daily routine/schedule, work systems, visual structure.
  • Desert Oasis utilizes the curriculums listed above as well as the STRATEGIES FOR TEACHING BASED ON AUTISM RESEARCH (STAR) and LINKS curriculum. The STAR and LINKS curriculum are designed to help teach critical skills when working with students with Autism.



DHA uses the problem-solving model, RTI, which includes the DHA team coming together to consider student academic performance and behavioral data to identify and define any concerns and develop interventions and follow up plans to address those concerns.  



Maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment is the number one priority at Desert Heights Academy.  In order for this to be accomplished, conflict needs to be managed in a productive and positive fashion.  Since many of our students have endured unhealthy and hurtful experiences of conflict, our goal is to teach them that conflict is part of any healthy relationship and that it can be managed in a productive fashion that strengthens and not fractures relationships.  The clinical model provides the necessary framework to teach students about productive conflict as well as other important social and coping skills that strengthen relationships. The clinical program also utilizes Why Try: Resilience Education. Why Try’s multisensory approach has built resilience in millions of youth in schools and youth worldwide. The Why Try Program uses a series of ten visual metaphors to teach social, emotional, and leadership principles. The program’s unique multisensory approach caters to every learning type. Teachers and clinicians utilize the Why Try curriculum to help students build resilience, understanding that it is often not possible to remove the stressors of their life that at times impact their ability to be successful in the classroom or life endeavors. Instead, resiliency offers students the capacity to deal with, cope with, and grow stronger from their experiences. By focusing on the relationship with students and making the material relevant to them, resiliency increases. As this resiliency increases, students show an increase in self-esteem, social skills, emotional stability, and leadership skills.



The Transition aspect of DHA is centered on Vocation Education.  All students are given a career assessment to identify strengths and emerging skills so they can begin to work towards possible career areas.  Students will be afforded the opportunity to gain work experience and employable skills needed for a successful transition to life after DHA
While in the program, students will be able to identify personal learning styles and the necessary accommodations to be a successful learner and worker.  Students will be able to identify career interests and skills, complete interest and career inventories, and identify additional education or training requirements.



The Positive Behavior Management Model is a consequence driven approach that emphasizes accountability, responsible decision making, and prosocial behavior. It parallels real world practices by teaching students that there is a consequence for every action. Our staff target positive student behaviors, identifying how such behavior helps them transition toward success. Positive reinforcement is frequently used to support students practicing prosocial behaviors. All DHA staff receives ongoing training in Positive Behavior Management techniques and approaches. Our interventions are developmentally sensitive, recognizing effective approaches for each age group. When students exhibit negative or inappropriate behavior, negative consequences are applied. Our model does not punish nor shame students. We encourage students to not make it personal when we set limits and apply consequences. We explain to students that it is our job is to teach them responsible ways of handling various academic and relational situations and stressors. We teach students that mistakes can offer valuable learning experiences.