what success has been achieved?

Camelback High School (CBHS) has now experienced a renaissance in its culture. No longer do gangs rule the school yard. The most uncooperative and troublesome students were long ago convinced to leave. Today students feel safe and connected to their school and its staff and teachers. Students today feel it is cool to be smart and to succeed. Students are encouraged and do stay on campus after school to participate in sports, clubs and other activities which even include a food bank for needy families connected to the school. A whole new website was developed to assist the school in paying for items needed by the new clubs it formed, called Support My Club.

With this change in culture has come improved graduation rates, lower drop-out rates, lower F rates, higher standardized test scores, more students pursuing post secondary education opportunities, more college enrollments and many more college scholarships earned.

2016 Montessori Statistics

  • We have 16 graduating seniors, attending Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, St. Mary’s University, South Mountain Community College, Grand Canyon University, and Scottsdale Community College.
  • All of our students will be enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college post graduation.
  • Our students totaled $1,605,700 in scholarships (not including grants).
  • 13 of our students will be able to attend college with tuition fully covered.


Dr. Gestson’s Vision 2020 Presentation to the PUHSD Governing Board


A Theory of Action at Camelback High School

by Peter Flanagan-Hyde


Students get it

While it is not possible to determine exactly what has produced such a positive outcome, it is very clear that many students at Camelback High School now believe that they can rise above the difficulties that may have been provided by their chaotic family and economic circumstances. They understand and clearly articulate that by giving 100% of their effort and having a clear set of goals that they can achieve a positive outcome in their lives. They also understand the relationship between getting a good education and achieving their goals.

This understanding was repeatedly demonstrated in a number of Toastmasters speeches given by Camelback High School students at a recent Toastmasters luncheon. Several of the finalist speakers from the 120 students in the school’s DECA class emphasized that they intend to achieve their remarkable life goals in spite of the issues they are dealing with in their families, health history and economic circumstances. They reiterated that they understand that this will take all of their sustained effort over a long time but that they see that the future is theirs.

Permission to Succeed

At a recent monthly dinner, one student put it most clearly, saying “it’s not where you start out in life but where you end up that counts.” Another motto suggested at that dinner was that “the more difficult your family and economic circumstances growing up, the better your bragging rights when you succeed.”

These students have determined that they have permission to succeed!


Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS)

See the progress in AIMS test scores at Camelback High School on the Great Schools website.


Camelback’s metrics are showing the success of the program

Since 2009, the student test results and outcomes of all sorts are improving as shown in these graphics (click to enlarge).

Camelback High School

Number of Graduates

Drop Out Rate

Scholarship Totals (12th)

AIMS Reading

AIMS Math (10th)

ACT (11th)

Stanford (9th)

“Camelback High School gives every student the opportunity to thrive and flourish.”

CBHS student

Join the Conversation

This website is a case study of a school transformation experience. The conclusion so far is that schools can benefit greatly from the time, talent and treasure of those in the local community.

Can the student outcome improvements generated at Camelback High School can be sustained and replicated? Or were the improvements only due to a unique synergy among this particular group of highly-motivated students, teachers, community leaders and an uninhibited principal?

Let's discuss.

Social Venture Partners Arizona


For inquiries about the Success is Mandatory program case study, Camelback High School or the Phoenix District, please email Kellie Burris: