Category: Events/Announcements

CERTS Programs Honor Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, retired Air Force 2-Star General Kathy Thomas, Vietnam Veteran and the first female general officer in the Air Force Space Command spoke to students at the CERTS Programs, Kolob Canyon and Moonridge Academy.

General Thomas shared with the students her stories of serving throughout the world, aiding in diplomacy missions, mobilizing troops following the 9/11 attacks, and – in her opinion, most importantly – helping change the rules and removing the obstacles for women in the armed forces.  General Thomas shared funny stories about having to wear skirts in negative 75 degree weather on base in Minot, North Dakota, and how she helped convince the Air Force of the folly of that gender-based rule.  She shared touching stories of supporting struggling troops, and how leadership is not in the speeches you make, or the ribbons on your lapel, but in the moments of service and true connection you give to others.  The students were enthralled with how many places she has been to, and served in the world, as well as how many Presidents of the United States she had personally met.

General Thomas focused on the 3 Core Values of the Air Force:
1) Excellence in Everything You Do
2) Service to Others
3) Integrity, Always Be Honest  

She shared how these values will lead to a successful, happy life, regardless of being in the military or not.  The students showed great interest in what General Thomas had to share.  Many asked for her autograph after she spoke.  General Thomas now spends her retirement in Southern Utah, mentoring teens and young adults pursuing higher education and/or military service.  We are grateful to have had General Thomas share her life service with us.


Mountain Springs Is Doing Some Amazing Things This Fall

A key element of Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy is helping students develop into responsible individuals.  We want our students to practice making healthy choices and balancing all aspects of their lives.  We encourage our students to experience success and become powerful young people who are active and engaged in their community.

Capstone Projects

Mountain Springs’ students complete a capstone project that demonstrates their leadership, community involvement and independence.  Caitlin chose a Capstone Project that supported the community event Cedar City Rocks.  This event brings the community together with the purpose of spreading kindness and helping people find creativity in themselves.  Caitlin painted rocks, putting them in the community for people to find.

Bryson’s Capstone Project involved him leading a school wide group providing tools to internalize the therapeutic work students completed in wilderness and previous residential treatment.  To prepare for this group, Bryson returned to his residential treatment program to interview students and therapists.


Mountain Springs’ students are involved in their community.  Sophie volunteers at an emergency shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence. She recently helped with their “Dine Out For Shelter” event.  Kelsi volunteers at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Ethan volunteers at a veterinary clinic, and Bryson helps coach a youth soccer team.


Mountains Springs’ students gain independence earning and budgeting their own money.  Toma has a job at Culver’s and was recently promoted!  Maeve has been working at a local Kroger grocery store and will be transferring to a store near her home when she graduates from MSPA.  Tess is working at McDonald’s, Kelsi is a barista, Caitlin recently got a job at Dairy Queen….and the list goes on!

College Classes and Extracurricular Activities

Mountain Springs’ students can take college classes at Southern Utah University which proves to be a highlight for many.  Other students participate in extracurricular sports at local high schools.  Max is practicing with the wrestling team at a local high school, while Wayne plays on the hockey team.  Matt is the star running back on the Cedar High School freshman football team.  And let’s not forget our co-ed softball team that just won the city championship!

CERTS Hosts Southern Utah Teacher Summit

What happens when teachers get together for a Teacher Summit?  Well, lots of learning, laughter, and collaboration takes place.  Academic relationships are forged and insights gained.

On Wednesday July 10th, Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy and Kolob Canyon hosted the first annual Southern Utah Teacher Summit.  The concept of uniting the Southern Utah Programs together for a Teacher Summit was originally discussed many months ago by the academic teams at Kolob Canyon and Mountain Springs.  It seemed like a huge undertaking, but ultimately it was decided that it was invaluable and would provide much needed collaboration.

Planned and organized by Kolob Canyon Academic Director Susan Mackert and MSPA Academic Director Dave Gardiner (both CERTS Programs), this wonderful conference brought teachers and administrators together to discuss the needs of students in therapeutic settings and residential treatment. Keynote Speaker Eric Bonnett, LCSW started off the conference talking about how students with a background of trauma learn. Informative breakout sessions followed throughout the day. Sessions included details about accreditation, authentic assessment, teacher self-care, experiential learning, strategies for managing executive functioning issues, using improvisational comedy to improve retention, mindfulness and validation in the classroom, and student directed learning models. There was also a chance for round table discussions among disciplines.  Teachers were able to brainstorm about more effective teaching methods for students who have emotional, mental health and behavioral struggles.  Since many of the programs who participated in the Summit have smaller academic teams, this collaboration was invaluable.   And of course there was some fantastic food!  We cannot wait until next year’s summit.


2018–A Year of Growth and Change

As we reach the end of 2018, it is nice to reflect on what has happened at each of our programs.  This has been a big year at CERTS–a year of growth and change!  We have added to our campuses, added some amazing people to our teams and added substance to our programs.

Mountain Springs Preparatory Adds Bridge Program and Boys/Girls Independence Houses

The Bridge to Independence Program provides a well scaffolded and immersive environment for students to practice increasing levels of self-initiative, responsibility, and independence in their lives.  All of this while maintaining receptivity to mentorship, skill-building, and interdependence with others as a young adult.  The Bridge Program is a continuation and enhancement of the Mountain Springs Preparatory experience and is not a stand alone program.  The new beautifully built and decorated independence houses will provide 8 additional beds for male students in our male independence house and 8 additional beds for female students in our female independence house.  Students who live in the the Bridge to Independence Houses:

  • Have demonstrated leadership and are self-governing their actions while enrolled at Mountain Springs Prep
  • Are at least 17 years old
  • Currently a senior in high school
  • Have a job or volunteering in the community


  • Life skills:  Weekly budget planning, meal planning, paying bills
  • Healthy living goals:  Meal choices, exercise, self-care
  • Meeting personal goals:  Sustaining therapeutic growth in less structure
  • Financial Management:  Checking and Savings Accounts
  • Becoming autonomous, self-sufficient and self-governing


  • Weekly community therapy sessions
  • Weekly mentor meetings
  • Privilege Management
  • Staff oversight/awake night supervision


  • Weekly volunteer and work experiences
  • Ability to make decision regarding peer relationships
  • Independent decision-making
  • Practice self-governing independence


La Europa Academy Adds New Building and a New Clinical Director

A new Arts Building opened in late November 2018.  This beautiful new addition located on the corner of the La Europa and will triple triple their expressive therapy capacity.  It will provide more opportunities for students to explore and heal through music, dance, visual arts, ceramics, sandtray and photography. The spacious new dance room is 1200 square feet for students to pirouette, ball change, plié, freestyle, pas de bourrée, jazz walk, chasse or move their bodies any way they choose!  La Europa is fortunate to witness the transformative power of expressive therapy as part of each student’s journey. The new space will also be home to therapists, school classrooms and other employees.  With this new addition also came a new sports court which the students are already enjoying!

A new Clinical Director Dave Nichols joined the La Europa Team in early December.  Dave comes with vast experience covering a wide range of substance abuse, mental health and behavioral issues.  Dave has been a Clinical Director for the past 4 years, most recently as the Director of Clinical Services at Highland Ridge Hospital.  There, he greatly contributed to their success and growth as he expanded adolescent clinical services.  As a Clinical Director, Dave has always maintained a clinical caseload taking on the more challenging students.  He will continue to do this at La Europa Academy.  Dave brings with him knowledge to expand our overall vision of clinical services.

Moonridge Academy Announces New Clinical Director and Breaks Ground on New Building

Lacey joined the Moonridge Academy team in May 2018.  She comes to Moonridge with variety of experiences working in both residential and wilderness settings.   Most recently Lacey was a lead clinician and trainer at New Visions Wilderness in Wisconsin. Prior to working at New Visions Wilderness, Lacey was a therapist at Explorations in Montana. Lacey received her Master’s Degree from Abiline Christian University in Abiliene, TX.  Lacey has advanced training in Brainspotting, Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga, and HeartMath strategies. She is a trained family therapist, working with the entire family system to create long lasting change. Lacey has unique experiences working with young women in adventurous settings. This is essential at Moonridge Academy where the students are middle school age and are involved in weekly Adventure Therapy.   Lacey is also a creative therapist including art projects, play therapy and music in therapy sessions. She is a calming, steady presence as a therapist when working with younger girls in a fun and empowering way. For families, Lacy is a consistent support providing real solutions for families in need.

Lacey Heinzelman and Susan Mackert Clinical and Academic Directors at Moonridge were thrilled to officially shovel the first scoop of dirt for the new Clinical and Academic Building.  This new facility will have classrooms, offices,a study hall, library, conference room, and an attached covered pergola for outside gatherings. Tawny Thomas the former Executive Director worked so hard on this project and will continue to do so with the help and support of the new Executive Director Jack Hinman as this project continues. Our staff and students are excited for this new space!!!

Kolob Canyon and Moonridge Academy Welcomed New Executive Director

Jack Hinman came to Moonridge Academy in September 2018 with many years of experience working in various residential treatment programs. He has years of clinical experience and has helped to grow and develop some exemplary girl’s programs in Southern Utah.  Jack is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast.  Jack is already making some wonderful changes to the programs at both schools which will provide better supports for students, families and staff.