By Rebecca Johnson, Director of Strategic Engagement
Not long ago a friend said to me, “I can’t believe how much Valor has accomplished in 20 years.”
I smiled and accepted the kind intention of his words before I corrected him. “The school isn’t yet 20 years old,” I replied. Valor’s founding task force formed in 2005. Its nonprofit charter was established in 2006. The doors opened in 2007.
While there’s a remarkable and humbling story of Valor’s founding — including a clear sense of the hand of Providence in matters that our human founders could never have engineered — the reasons here represent our school community today and where we are headed.
“From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,” Jesus said (Luke 12:48).
Giving is about more than what we possess. It is about who we are — so when we consider giving to Valor, we do so from the core of our identity as a school community.
Here are seven reasons for the kind of giving that reflects who we are.
1. We are activating what a Valor education means for current students and future generations.
This reason goes to the heart of Valor’s founding: The pursuit of education that is excellent in caliber and Christian in principle. Valor families want both.
We make no secret of the school’s commitment to modeling and pursuing thoughtful Christian engagement and influence in the world — and we don’t take for granted our rights and freedoms to do so.
Being an independent private school means that Valor does not receive any funding from federal, state or local government. And, although Valor is decidedly Christian, we do not have any affiliation with a particular church denomination, nor do we receive financial support from any church, parish or diocese.
Our school stands strong because our families believe Valor’s approach to education is worth the investment. All of the following reasons continue to affirm why.
2. We are elevating a community that shares our values — and enjoying it too.
What gets parents and grandparents excited to support our school? Quite simply, they love supporting what their students love — and doing it together. Being a part of the Valor community is a genuinely elevating experience because of the people. Alumni stay in touch for the same reason.
Community connections are especially evident in Champions and Arts Guild memberships that support the ongoing enhancement of Athletics and Arts+Media programs. Annual membership perks are extra reasons to feel good about our giving.
Our donations to support Discovery service programs don’t involve membership perks. But many Discovery donors find like-minded relationships among others who see the significance of providing intercultural experiences for students.
Through these shared interests, the giving of our Valor community reflects shared values of knowledge, wisdom, leadership and service — all within a vibrant Christ-centered environment that encourages students to develop their faith.
3. We are defining excellence through the progress of a mission we believe in.
Valor tuition covers the core mission deliverables our students experience. It took us a decade to reach this point, but we don’t settle for the gap mentality that giving should cover what tuition can’t.
Therefore, our passion for giving to Valor must be about more than daily operations. Our mission is a thriving work in progress. It demands that we refuse to become stagnant or rest on our laurels.
Valor’s pursuit of excellence can create a feeling of immense pressure on students. So it’s worth a reminder that excellence is learned. This statement is as true for the school as it is for our students.
We are learning to be better all the time. We don’t always win the game, but we prepare and play to win. We admit our mistakes and strive not to repeat them. Sometimes we go on to make new mistakes. And in our failing moments, we strive to fail forward with courageous faith in a God who knows that apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
The humble heart behind academic achievements, arts productions, athletic competition and service in communities around the globe is that we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9). We believe God is at work in us and in the world, and we have the joy of participating in that work. When all is said and done, our commitment to excellence defines us as people perhaps more deeply than it defines our accomplishments.
4. We are fueling innovation in new and enhanced programs.
Every year at Valor, students experience new and enhanced opportunities. I could point to several examples weaving their way into the very fabric of Valor — from Discovery experiences, to Conservatory classes for visual and performing arts, to chaplaincy support for all 24 sports. Newer additions include our expansion of Applied STEM options and social-emotional services.
Too quickly, we can forget that programs like these were once frontiers — and that more are ahead for us.
School leaders intentionally pray and plan how to improve our offerings in Academics, Arts+Media, Athletics and Discovery. One of our greatest challenges is to deliver excellence and distinction without placing an undue burden on the affordability of a Valor education.
Innovation — and the calculated risk that comes with it — sometimes costs money. Other times it’s a matter of paying attention and making intentional choices. Either way, we are mindful of technological advances, generational shifts, market realities and even divine promptings. We will continue to cut our own path and tailor our learnings of the world to the context and mission of Valor.
Valor families give in various ways to fuel new and enhanced programs. Giving ‘where needed most’ remains an option, and those who practice this kind of open-handed giving are greatly appreciated. At the same time, I talk to many families that are compelled by specific pillars and projects.
In this spirit, donor choice and donor intent carry great importance. Every financial contribution is a vote of confidence in the educational experience we create by uniting our resources.
5. We are sustaining a debt-free campus.
We all benefit from the legacy of pioneering community leaders who rallied around a big dream and an empty plot of land to bring Valor Christian High School to life. Since the original campus construction in 2006 and 2007, more families have joined the work of building — right up to 2015 when we opened the Valor Center for Culture and Influence and to the present day as we invest in renovations and updates.
Just driving by, you see what a gift this campus is — not to mention walking through a classroom furnished with art supplies, musical instruments, lab tools or newly minted computers. Or asking our student-athletes about the latest updates to the locker rooms and weight training areas at the Stadium.
The campus master plan includes additional construction and will require more renovation as the expected wear and tear of daily activity takes its toll.
Meanwhile, Valor stands financially debt-free because we are the kind of school community that understands the importance of preserving the learning environment — physically, academically, spiritually, creatively.
The only debt we owe is gratitude to the Valor parents and grandparents who have caught the vision for campus projects and for endowment funds to sustain this place we love.
6. We are modeling and teaching the way toward leadership and lasting influence.
While I have mentioned many reasons to give because of who we are, we also give because of who our students are becoming. Knowing that our vision is to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to transform the world for Christ, how are we setting an example for them to emulate?
When it comes to giving and volunteering, research indicates that each generation learns by what their parents and role models say and do. We can’t expect kids to develop values and priorities we aren’t and talking about and living out.
This leaves some of us with the challenge of parenting and leading in ways we did not learn when we were growing up. But it’s never too late to start, and a supportive community at Valor can help. I have always found it interesting that giving is described as a spiritual practice — not a perfection. Valor is a great place to practice.
The next generation of leaders includes students who could not attend Valor without tuition assistance, which is made possible with donor support. Including these students is not only a way to improve their educational opportunity, although that may be true. Every student, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances, can bring individual perspectives and talents that enrich our school community.
The greater the diversity of our student body, the more our alumni can lead from a place of empathy for others and appreciation for God-given abilities that are unique in every person. Often, what makes us different makes us stronger together.
7. We are representing a school united.
“We” starts with the full giving participation of our faculty, staff, administration and board members who sign a commitment every year to give time, talent and treasure to the mission of the school. This is not mere ceremony — it is an annual reminder and renewal of each person’s calling to serve at Valor.
From this committed center, “we” also extends to parents, grandparents, friends and far-away family members who say “count me in” through their participation and support.
When you consider who we are — all of us, giving and living up to what we believe matters most to our school community — there’s no telling what could happen as Valor reaches 20 years and beyond.