Experienced, Caring and Effective


Like our students, our staff and team members come from all walks of life and from many different backgrounds.

Our team members are not only highly educated in their specialized areas of expertise, they are role models for each other and for the students. We have caring and dedicated staff members who truly become like family to each other and to our students.

Our team members enjoy getting involved in the activities, and you’ll see them jumping in and having fun whether we are doing a finger-painting project, playing dodge ball in the gym, attending student productions, or helping design and support a student’s photography project.


Jarrett Shoemaker, Program Director

Jarrett started his career in behavioral healthcare as a direct-care staff in 2006, where he realized his passion for working with youth. He has held leadership positions, both locally and nationally, with a focus on improving systems of care for at-risk youth by creating safe and supportive environments for youth to experience positive engagement with their peers, mentors, and families. In his spare time, Jarrett enjoys spending time with his family and playing hockey, basketball, and soccer.


Ryan Cunningham, Deputy Program Director

Ryan Cunningham, with an MBA from the University of Phoenix, has been appointed Deputy Program Director at Lava Heights after proving his mettle as the Admissions and Marketing Manager at Rite of Passage since 2022. His extensive background in program management and operational leadership, particularly in youth-oriented environments, marks him as a valuable addition to the Lava Heights team.


Amy Dazet, Director of Student Services

Amy Dazet, as the Director of Student Services at Lava Heights Academy, brings over 13 years of experience in operations management and student support. In her role, she excels in developing program policies, managing compliance audits, and overseeing case management, demonstrating a strong commitment to the welfare and progress of the students under her care.


Falene Durham, Director of Nursing

My name is Falene Durham, I have been a nurse for over ten years. I have worked in several areas from medical surgical unit, orthopedics, long term care and now my favorite of all is working with our students at lava and Falcon. I enjoy connecting with everyone around me and I truly feel everyone has something to teach you. Our students have taught me more about being kind and compassionate than any other field of nursing I have been in. I consider it a privilege to work with these students, and hope that I impact them as much as they do me. Being a nurse is all about caring for those around you as if they are your own family, I love the family that we have here at Rite of Passage. I get to fulfill our mission everyday by improving the lives of our youth. I look forward to many more years of learning to be a better Nurse by caring for our students.


Joette Hayden, Academic Director

Joette Hayden is an advocate for all students with learning differences and has worked in our academic programs for over 20 years. She has taught Special Education K-12, worked with at risk students and has specialized in working in alternative school settings. She has also served as an educator and school administrator in Utah, served on curriculum councils and worked in school quality / accreditation performance for over 23 years here in Utah. Joette holds a B.A. Elementary Education and Special Education and a M.Ed. in education from Southern Utah University with an administrative leadership endorsement.


Heather Weinberg, Clinical Lead

Heather is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a registered Art Therapist with the Art Therapy Credentials Board. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and a dual master's degree in clinical art therapy and mental health counseling from Springfield College in Massachusetts. Heather’s professional experience includes work in residential care, the public school system, and in-patient psychiatric hospitalization. Rooted in humanistic and cognitive theories, she utilizes an integrative approach designed to allow for individualization of the therapeutic process.

Despite her love for the color green and all things related to the forests of the Northeast, Heather finds herself in Southern Utah where she spends most of her free time supporting desert hockey (Knight Time, all the time) and enjoying the epic landscape.


Marcel Harkey, Admissions Manager

Marcel Harkey is passionate about helping youth reach their full potential to become the best versions of themselves. He is committed to providing guidance to families in need of support, by helping them find resources throughout their healing journey. Marcel has over 10 years of experience working with youth, enjoys spending time with his family, and coaching high school football.