Exceptional Student Services


As a Christian school, Desert Christian has the unique opportunity to enroll, support, and receive the blessings of students with disabilities as valued members of our community. Rather than compete solely in academic achievement, we are a beacon to the Tucson Community and a light for Christ on how a Christian community supports unique learners. We do this by enthusiastically including students with disabilities in the fabric of our school, not because we are mandated by law to do so, but because we believe each student is valuable and a child of God.

At Desert Christian Schools, we believe that all children are a gift from God and have been created in His image. Each child has gifts that God has given them. We understand that not all children learn the same and some have unique needs that may make learning more challenging. Our goal is to provide these children with a God-centered education that meets their unique learning styles while teaching them tools to overcome hurdles they have in learning. We believe the best way to attain this goal is through an inclusion model of Christian education. Students Preschool - 12th grade will spend the majority of their day in the general education classroom and will be supported by a Skills Center staff either in-class or in the Skills Center classroom for pull-out support.

Meet Our Skills Center Team

Erin Thigpen

PS - 12th Exceptional Student Services Director

Starting Our Services

Our school staff and families work together proactively to identify and respond to students with mild learning support needs through implementing best practices with Response to Intervention and Differentiated Instruction. Whether that need is associated with a Learning Disability, Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD), High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, an Emotional Challenges or an undiagnosed need, we work together to help our students succeed.

We begin the conversation for each student with a look at their God-given strengths and gifts. Through observations and testing, we collaborate with parents to identify areas of need and put plans in place to help each student grow academically, spiritually, and socially.

Students requiring an ESS plan must be tested/evaluated through the public school system and determined to have a qualifying educational disability. While we endeavor to provide as much support as possible, with our small program we cannot always meet the need of every student. We are open and honest as we communicate with the student and family about what we can provide.

Planning for the success of each student may include creating:


Anyone interested in our program must first fill out a formal inquiry through our website. There is a place in this inquiry to check that your student has an IEP, 504, or any other type of educational/behavioral plan within the past 2 years. Our Director of Admissions, Amy Garelick, will send an email to you asking that you contact the Exceptional Student Services Director, Erin Thigpen, based on the grade your child is in to review your child’s educational/behavioral needs. They will ask that you send all necessary paperwork (IEP, 504, etc) to them via email for review. Our inclusion enrollment spaces are limited and we must screen all potential students to ensure we can appropriately meet their needs.

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