In a recent article on, writer Mariana Dale, took an inside look at Marana Unified School District’s Dental Assistant Program.


Tyler Leo, 17, didn’t cringe when a woman he works with at a local golf course asked him if she had tooth decay.

“It was obvious she did,” Leo said. “It was a little blackish in there — it wasn’t pretty.”

For Leo, it’s another opportunity to exercise what he’s learning in the Marana Unified School District’s dental assistant program.

The dental program, now in its third year, is growing. After two years of class, students test for certifications that qualify them for dental assistant jobs.

“These students are getting national certifications that they can walk in anywhere and get a job,” said Cathie Raymond, Marana’s career and technical education director.

They’re the same certifications sought by trade school and community college students, but at a fraction of the cost. Teens can start in the program during their junior year. The class is held after normal school hours, and meets four days a week.

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