Building An Educational Foundation…
Skull Valley has had several different school buildings in various locations since the first school was established here in 1879. The first (1879-1897) and second (1897-1908) schools in Skull Valley (the second one burned down) were on Shupp Lane near Sterling Ranch. The third (which also burned) was near the county house or Hole in the Brush and was in use from 1908-1916. The 1916 Community Hall was used as a school prior to construction of the 1925 building. Skull Valley still has many living residents who attended school in the 1925 building, which was in use from 1925 through 2001. Behind the 1925 school building is a small house, which was used as housing for Skull Valley’s teachers. The teacherage is used for storage now, but it was used as classroom space as recently as 2001. The 1925 school building was partially restored by the Skull Valley Historical Society, and that work is being continued by the district. The newest Skull Valley School was built in 2001 and shares a campus with the previous two school buildings. 2016 was Skull Valley School’s Centennial year, celebrating 100 years on the current campus.
A Brief Staff History…
Skull Valley’s former Food Service Director, Shirley Ballew, worked at Skull Valley School for 48 years, retiring in 2018. Her mother-in-law, Edna Ballew Patton, was the school’s bus driver for 26 years, between 1961 and 1986. Shirley’s husband, Daryl Ballew, attended Skull Valley School and enjoys sharing memories of some of his former teachers. For example, Daryl remembers his first and second grade teacher, Edna Cordes, who taught him between 1942 and 1944.
Mrs. Sparks came in 1944-45. She impressed her students because she kept long willow sticks in the corner of her classroom, and she wasn’t afraid to use them. Mr. Gamble came around 1947-1948.
Some of the other teachers at Skull Valley School over the years have been Mr. Friday, Mr. & Mrs. McCall, Mr. & Mrs. Brennan, Mrs. Pearson, Mr. Glass, Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Adams, Bob Ellis, Kay Dean, Jane Ryan, Tracy Evans, Jim Sexton, Dick Bowerman, Darla Jay, Mrs. Branson, Patty Rummage, Mike McCrady, Cyndee Sparks, Gina Winther, Barbara Edgmon, Vicki Hilliker, Sue Isaacson, Diana Frost, Deborah Salcedo, and currently Talitha Oberlander, Michelle McFarland, Tommaso Grimaldi, and Tara Fusillo.
Our kindergarten Aide, Raquel Martinez, recently retired after 34 years of service to our school.
The Small Schools Track Meet has always been a big event for all the small communities in the area. Back in the sixties and seventies, it included the high jump event. Skull Valley had such strong high jumpers that scouts and coaches from all over the county would come to watch. Skull Valley School adopted the Skunk mascot in the early fifties when the Skull Valley Skunks softball team made a name for itself all over the state of Arizona. There are still quite a few members of the Skull Valley Skunks team living in the valley.
Skull Valley School has a long history of support from the local community. Land for the school was obtained from the late Hulda Christopherson’s family, the Coughrans. More recently, in 2003, the late Mr. Tom Jack of Prescott donated the wonderful purple and orange “big toy” playground equipment. Local artist Loren Phippen had a beautiful bronze plaque (displayed near the playground) made in honor of Mr. Jack’s generous gift. The Skull Valley Historical Society and Loren Phippen donated an antique school bell to the school in 2011, which we use every day.