From Rivets to Rose

About Rose Academies

Gene and Catherine Kinghorn and their children moved from the Midwest to Tucson, Arizona in the early 1980’s. Experienced as a third-generation welder and a member of both the Boilermakers and Carpenters Unions, Gene worked in the construction area while completing his Masters and Doctorate in Education. Catherine, while raising their children (including two newly adopted ones), worked at several organizations in administrative capacities which was her forte’.

As the newly minted Dr. Kinghorn with special education concentrations in both his degrees, Gene held various educational administrative positions in the Tucson area. These included serving as Principal for a high school within the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation as well as Superintendent at the Picacho School District.

In a horrible turn of events, Gene and Catherine’s adopted special needs son Gabe was the victim of a terrible assault at his public school in Tucson. Based on this, plus their frustration with the public school system in Tucson, they decided to start up their own Charter High School. And thus the ROSE Management Group and the first ROSE Academy began operations in 1999. Gene would serve as CEO & Superintendent, with Catherine as COO heading up Administration. They also added their daughter Kelly on the education side and her childhood friend Cathy Capen on the business and finance side from inception.

Gene designed the model for this new charter school based on his history and knowledge of building and manufacturing. He combined this with his prior experience in working with poor and minority students in the public school districts. Most of these students had to work or care for siblings which made traditional high school impossible to attend regularly.

Basically, the ROSE Academy was built to be a multi-shift workshop of education with morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Another key element was to offer self-paced blended learning by providing a computerized curriculum for each student combined with in-person teachers in every subject. (See

Graduating just 12 students in 1999, the ROSE Academy was so popular that the Kinghorns needed to expand their reach. While they attempted to operate as a non-profit early on, they had to switch to a for profit entity in order to get the funding for their growth. In the twenty years since commencing, there are now five ROSE Academy campuses serving 1,200 students … thus making ROSE the largest charter high school operator in Tucson.