Monday, 21 August 2017

August Greetings

August 2017

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; (1 Cor. 13, NASB)

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. I trust the summer vacation has been full and rich for you all! I am writing with some information that I hope will be helpful.

Occasionally we receive  telephone and email inquiries from parents, former parents, former students and former teachers asking for information about the health and well-being of the school.  Some of the people we hear from have bits and pieces of information painting a picture of VCS in this time that is inaccurate.  In reality, very few people, in or around or associated with VCS, know the entire narrative of the changes and transition here.  As the new Principal, and in an attempt to stay in ‘the present moment’ moving ahead into the new academic year I choose to share this information in the interest of openness, transparency and the well-being of the school community with the hope that shared understanding will occur.

The VCS Society Board and the Society as a whole undertook a lengthy process of reflection, re-visioning and assessment of the Society business...Valley Christian School. As a result they decided to initiate several changes, all of which are outlined in a ‘strategic plan’ and vision statement. This process was dialogical, and the reflections and conversations were saturated in prayer.

In mid-May I was retained by the Board as an interim Principal to assist the Society in implementing the Strategic Plan initiatives alongside VCS ‘champions’ in a number of strategic areas with a view to stabilizing and growing VCS as a strong and financially  viable organization.  From the outset it has been my aim to stay focused on moving forward decisively and sagaciously; this meant a focus on the ‘present’ rather than the past. My knowledge of events and decisions during this transitional period is limited to what I thought I needed to know to enable me to help us move forward.  Having said that, it is the case that some people will have different stories and recollections informed by different experiences and perspectives to tell.  As a rule I listen to stories until they become counter-productive or involve others who are not present at the telling.  

With that in mind here is what I’d like you to understand. There has been a change of staff at the school and it is important that you know why. The staff at a school of this size is, typically, small based on enrollment so, when any change occurs it is felt more acutely.  We have at least one teacher taking a long-planned sabbatical to travel to Israel and Russia among other places; she will return early next year. We had two teachers in the Primary grades move on to positions in other schools.  Another teacher said, “I have been here a long time. It was just time for a change.” One high school teacher chose to seek a position in the public system for a teaching position more suited to her preferences and expertise. Two other teachers (one in middle and one in high school) were laid off for budgetary reasons (enrollment did not support the positions).  Another teacher chose to relocate to be closer to family in another province. We also found it necessary to layoff some educational assistants and one clerical staff member for budgetary reasons. It is not the case that there has been an exodus of staff unhappy with the changes occurring at the school. Since the end of the school year we have hired teachers to replace departing teachers and to teach in classrooms from which teachers have taken maternity leaves. I am very happy with the expertise and character of our new staff.


Now, let me say a few words about the relationship between enrollment and staffing in general and at VCS in particular. I was a public school administrator for 15 years before retiring and coming out of retirement to VCS.  In each of the schools at which I served as an administrator we staffed and created a timetable of courses for students based on the number of confirmed students we had on our registration lists. If our enrollment was down we had to make changes to be fiscally responsible. If enrollment was up, we staffed accordingly.  The most significant difference between the public and private schools in this regard is that private school parents pay tuition fees to buy the kind of schooling and education they think is best for their child. So VCS, like any other independent school, continues to operate because parents believe it is a good investment for their children in  ‘life and eternity’.

The staffing of our classrooms to provide nurture and expertise is influenced and impacted by a couple of factors. Enrollment ebbs and flows for several reasons. Sometimes, as in our case, parents are uncertain about the direction of the school and sometimes this uncertainty is derived from misinformation or a lack of information. Parents want to know that their children will be well taught and cared for and that the school will be well led. When parents are uncertain they tend to reserve judgment and wait before making a change.  This is understandable.  Unfortunately the unintended consequence of this is that the Principal must make budgetary decisions about staffing based on the confirmed enrollment / registration of students.  This year, at this point, this has meant creating ‘split classes’ and laying off teachers or not replacing departing teachers.

It should also be noted that staffing a school is a challenge. In general staffing schools in both the public and private sectors is impacted by changes in policy and practice by the provincial government and ministry of education.  The recent Supreme Court decision requiring school districts across the province to restore positions that were lost during the last administration meant that teachers who were on ‘teacher-on-call’ lists were finding employment and the ‘pool’ of available teachers became much shallower very quickly.

I am convinced that Valley Christian School is a place with caring, compassionate and expert teachers, each of whom is committed to excellence in every element of the school experience. I know them to be ‘community-minded’ and professional, kind and hardworking. If you are you are still pondering, I invite  you to be in touch with us with your questions and concerns. If you know of others who have decided with some reluctance to move on please encourage them to reconsider and be in touch with us. If you are in relationships with families looking for a smaller school where the children are known, loved and cared for, encourage them to explore Valley Christian School.

Finally, if you have lingering questions or any discomfort about the times of transition the school has come through please be in touch with me and I can direct you to people you can speak to directly to have your questions answered. In the meantime we will move forward in implementing the Vision and Strategic Plan of the Valley Christian School Society and I  encourage every Society member to read the Vision and Plan documents.

Our offices are open from August 21st from 9 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to take new registrations, answer your questions and receive tuition payments for this school year.  

Greg Sharpe

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

from July 11

I hope this finds you enjoying the July summer sun!

Last night the Valley Christian School Society Board of Directors gathered for their monthly meeting. As you can imagine the topics are wide-ranging and the conversation is robust and free flowing.  I have worked with the Boards of a few non-profit enterprises, but none so focused and intent on providing the most careful and informed oversight of an organization as this team. I am grateful to be working with a group of thoughtful, prayerful and sagacious parents whose interests lie in securing the well being of the children entrusted to us. Many thanks to Dave, Carl, Cal, Clive and Sophia for their service and support!

And...many thanks to the parents of 'Helping Hands' for compassionately caring for the community here!  Bravo!

Jesus reminded his disciples that their dispositions should always be characterized by loving service. But Jesus did more than teach it didn't he? He lived it...and ultimately demonstrated the 'substance of love' by giving himself for us at Golgotha.

Then...a while later...a follower of Jesus named Paul came along and wrote about what love looks and sounds like in a letter to a church in Corinth. He writes:

Love is patient,
is kind,
is not jealous,
does not brag,
is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not take pleasure in unrighteousness,
rejoices with the truth,
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things,
Love never fails.

This will be my touchstone while I am at Valley Christian School.
I invite you to call me to this way of being-human-in-the-world. I will do the same for you.

A reminder...the office is closed now for the summer. I will be in and out at various times throughout the summer to collect mail, respond to voice messages and prepare for next year but please do not hesitate to write to me at: if you have questions, comments or concerns.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Year End Staff Get-together

Last night the staff community was in 'pot-luck' heaven as we gathered to celebrate the year, say farewell to some who are leaving Valley Christian School and meet new staff members. I want to thank everyone for their contributions to the meal - it was fantastic - and for their help in setting up and cleaning up after the event

Good Byes

We said goodbye to several members of the VCS staff family last night including: Sheryl Dahl (Gr.3) who has taken a position at MEI Elementary, Lea Kirkwood (Gr.1), Irene Goertz (Gr.8), and Neil Klassen (High School Humanities), and Grace Rempel (High school Humanities). Our Kindergarten teacher, Cynthia Marko is taking a planned Sabbatical and will be leaving soon for Israel!   We said farewell to Aleks Green (Gr. 6 - temporary) Robin Buell (PE/Secondary) last week as each made decisions to return to their home provinces for next year.

Several Educational Assistants are leaving us, at least in the short term, until our enrollment and student support needs warrant more staffing.  So, sadly, we bid farewell to: Luanne Silvertsen, Gabriella Williams, Lyndsay Edward, Aruna Masih, and Sheelah Meade.

We were also able to say farewell to Mr. Honey and thank him for his years of service and contributions to the school as the Principal, and to Kathie Krahn, the office manager for her 15+ years of service to the VCS students and families.

I offer my thanks to you all and pray blessings on each of you as you and your families as you journey with the Lord!


I would like to introduce and welcome two new teachers to the staff community. Caroline Winship is coming to us from Unity Christian School and will working with our grade 1 students.  Shivonne Gerhardt, a new teacher,  is joining us to teach the third graders.

Principal's Blog - Valley Christian School

Welcome to the Valley Christian School Principal's Blog page.  I will be using this page to update the school community with information I hope will be helpful and useful to you.

August Greetings

August 2017 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it ...