|Dear VVS Community,
Privilege. It was my privilege to join the Verde Valley School community in May 2011. Project Period, Commencement and shortly thereafter Alumni Weekend marked my first few weeks on campus. This series of events illustrated to me the special nature and power of a little school tucked behind Cathedral Rock.
Genuine. To be successful at VVS, one must be genuinely engaged and fervently believe in the founding principles. This is apparent from the first time you shake hands with Chris Warren (’71) or address a group of students in the Chapel. It is also clear that VVS is a community of action – roll up your sleeves and save your words. (As I accepted a shovel from an alum at Alumni Weekend, he noted to me that, “We’re VVS and we work.”). It is important to constantly ask questions, learn traditions and participate in Work Jobs to build understanding of why Hamilton Warren gave the world this school. My early discoveries led to an understanding of why VVS is unlike any other school and why we are proud to be different. Further, our differences make us resilient and our resiliency gives us hope.
Resilient. Cliff Perkins declared that VVS was built “out of dust, out of love and a vision…” Innate to such origins are hard years. But, we are resilient and despite worldwide economic hardship, we are viable and preparing to be viable for years to come. This fall, we instituted a new scenario driven economic model which will allow for a balanced budget in the next fiscal year. In simple terms, VVS will spend $1.5 million less this year than one year ago. The budget cuts had no impact on our program – the faculty and staff are excellent and committed. Our success will depend on tuition revenue and creative or entrepreneurial revenue drivers. While we opened this year with 100 students representing eighteen different nations, we still have a long way to go.
Believe. Walk the VVS campus on a day of classes – you’ll be inspired. Our students are intelligent, kind and hard working. They describe the community as an “open-minded” and “caring” place where “being an individual is celebrated.” Our faculty embraces this atmosphere – they know we were founded on a progressive idea and that our mission becomes more relevant by the day. We need to keep in mind that Ham had to have “a little crazy in him” to take the chance in founding VVS.
VVS 2.0. A tremendous amount of work went into “steering” VVS back in the right direction. Led by John Griffiths and Chuck Adams (’78), the community averted disaster. It is now our job to make sure we avoid the perpetual VVS cycle of collapsing to the brink of closure. I am working with the board on VVS 2.0. The concept is to use our framework – the defining principles – to drive the next generation of the school. Included is the new financial model as well as a group of “core capabilities” that provide a map for the future. More information will be available shortly; however, if you have any questions or would like more details, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participate. To be candid, I struggled with this letter. I want to convey that Verde Valley School is a collaborative school where clarity, accountability and simplicity reign. Only time will allow us to prove that to our greater community. Therefore, I am asking you to participate – engage in VVS. If it is not a monetary donation, please send a memory from Field Trips or give us a few hours of work on Alumni Weekend. My goal is to get everyone, 100% of the community, engaged with our school. To be clear, engagement doesn’t mean a check, it means sharing a story or referring a student. If we reach this goal, it will be worth far more than a sum of money – it will reveal that we understand Ham’s words “…the great responsibility for your fellow man. Respect his views; have concern for others…”