Utah's new education-minded governor took his Centennial Schools message to southern Utah Friday, armed with the evangelistic zeal of a beginner.

Gov. Mike Leavitt began a flying tour of several communities Friday in Salina, where North Sevier High School is already pioneering the kinds of educational reform Leavitt wants to see across the state.The high school has reduced and reconfigured its faculty and changed how that faculty relates to students. Teachers are on a year-round contract and their pay has been significantly increased. Students help teach. (Jason Henrie wowed the state's top official with a scholarly treatment of color blindness - a condition the youth suffers himself).

At Cedar City, his boyhood home, the town turned out to welcome Leavitt back to South Elementary, where he began his own educational odyssey. His former fifth-grade teacher gave the governor a thumbs-up from a packed audience, and a bulletin board displayed comments from others who had a smaller "Mikey" in their classes. They characterized him as a good student from a strong family who came to class prepared.

Education in a different milieu was the governor's next focus. He cut a ribbon to open a computer center at the prison facility outside Cedar City.

For prisoners - and for every Utahn - education is the key, he said.

Deseret News education editor Twila Van Leer and photographer Kristan Jacobsen accompanied the governor on his half-day flying trip to southern Utah.