Sycamore Canyon Academy Rises to the Challenge

Sycamore Canyon Academy Rises to the Challenge

By Nelson Rodriguez – August 22, 2013

Children who frequently have difficulty making healthy non-destructive choices or grow up in unstructured or abusive home environments, often find themselves embroiled with Law enforcement agencies and the Juvenile Court System; an encounter often looked upon by many as the last resort. No one knows this better than Carl “Ike” Shipman, Director of Sycamore Canyon Academy. Ike has worked with youth and families for over 12 years, managed group homes, and worked with Child Protective Services.

Ike and other members of his dedicated staff work with Rite of Passage, Inc.: a program dedicated to improving the lives of youth. Kris Herman, Community Service Project Manager, alongside two very proud students, Brandon Jimenez and Johnathan Pagan, gave an inspiring presentation to the SaddleBrooke Rotary members on the powerful and positive impact that the Academy provides both to the youth it serves and our community as well.

Sycamore Canyon Academy is a residential, fully functioning high school that provides education and therapy to local male students in the Tucson and Florence community who were involved in Child Protective Services or the Juvenile Court System. Children who have been abused, abandoned, or who have had difficulty making the best choices possible for themselves are also included in the Academy.

Sycamore Canyon Academy focuses on teaching its students responsibility, accountability and respect through the dedication of their live-in staff. Students are held accountable for their behaviors and actions. Within this live-in setting, students immediately have any rude or anti-social behavior addressed by the staff. Therefore, as students progress through the phases of the program and acquire leadership skills, they learn how to effectively address each other’s behavioral issues.

Therapist and case managers at the Academy provide four types of group therapy: Domestic and Family Issues, Drugs and Alcohol, Anger Management, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Interventions. Also included is Individual Therapy which helps support communication between the student, his family, and the community.

Sycamore Canyon Academy has a traditional classroom education with the benefits of smaller classes of 10 – 12 students per class. The Academy spans junior high to high school. In order to increase the children’s chances for success, the Academy works towards obtaining credit recovery so the students can transition back to their respective schools and arrive at their expected grade level. Students who are therapeutically ready to return home can participate in a full online curriculum which allows them to finish the educational program.

As a student progresses, he can earn privileges and participate as an intern in community service projects. At this level, students use their formed leadership skills to expand their professional experience and make phone calls to organize community service projects.

RAMS is not only the mascot symbol for Sycamore, it is their acronym for Respect, Attitude, Motivation and Spirit. RAMS represent one of the highest levels of achievement for students. Students work diligently to earn the privilege of proudly wearing the Academy’s jacket embossed with the letter R.

Validation is the highest level a student achieves before graduating from the Sycamore Canyon Academy. Here a student must demonstrate through a series of structured requirements that he can make positive, legitimate changes with himself, return to his community, and become a productive member of society.

Sycamore Canyon Academy, located in Oracle, Arizona, is one of fourteen Rite of Passage, Inc. programs in the country. If you are interested in learning more about Sycamore Canyon Academy, you can visit their website at Anyone interested volunteering or raising funds should please contact Director Karl “Ike” Shipman at

Improving the Lives of Youth