If a few moments could sum up more than a decade of his family’s Valor story, Jim Goff says they would be graduation day snapshots—Taylor’s, Rudy’s, and Graylen’s. He remembers seeing “their mom turn their tassels.”
Not every mom gets to do that. But Jody has earned the privilege, though she would never claim so herself. She would rather focus on what every parent can experience at Valor. When you understand that, you’ll know why the tassels are so telling.
“The teaching faculty and the coaches—they truly had a genuine interest in the well being of our children,” she says. “I honestly felt like I had another set of people who really loved my kids, who cared about them, who wanted them to make good choices in their lives.”
Jim describes what the school’s caring environment meant for their kids. “The stress of going through teenage years is better when you know you’re loved and you’ve got some strong role models.”
“Everyone here really wants to see these kids become all that God has created them to be,” Jody says.
She appreciates the school’s approach to accountability based on grace and truth, expressed in relationships more than rules. Because, putting faith into practice is “not just about going through the motions and the things that you do. It’s really about a relationship with Christ.”
The Goffs trusted Valor to provide a Christian education for their children. At the same time, they respect that it’s openly Christian, with a double meaning. Valor is firmly founded on faith and also welcomes families who may be spiritually exploring or noncommittal.
Grace and truth can stand for themselves. And students from Christian families need freedom to explore faith and doubt too.
“You never know when stuff takes,” Jim says, but Valor provides “exposure to the Word of God and what being a Christian means.”
That exposure gave Jim and Jody’s kids room to grow spiritually. Jody says, “They were challenged to really own their faith and not to just accept it because they were raised in a Christian home.”
She encourages today’s school parents: “We are committed to instructing students in the truth of the Bible and a relationship with Christ, and how—if they can capture and hang on to that—it will be the best thing they can do for their entire life.”
Looking back on their journey with the school, Jim kindly brags on Jody. She quickly deflects the attention: “It was just through a series of saying yes at the right time that I even got to do this.”
And “do this” means serving the school in many ways: on the 2005 task force that developed the vision, as a founding board member and, since 2013, as the school’s Director of Finance and Operations. All that and a Valor mom too. Jim serves with her on the Board of Trustees.
Jody and Jim enrolled Taylor, their oldest, “when the campus was just an empty field,” Jim says. It was a stressful decision, but one with no regrets. They were pioneers who caught the vision for what that field of dirt would become.
After an anxious and aggressive 51-week construction schedule, the school’s main academic building and athletic complex opened on September 7, 2007. The fledgling Valor community assembled outside for a dedication ceremony. A ribbon stretched across the entrance, ready to be cut. Then the first 188 students, including Taylor, came down the staircase from the second floor and flooded out through the front doors.
Jody remembers: “I just stood there watching all of the kids, with tears streaming down my face, thinking, Thank you God, they came, they actually came. There were times in the early days when we didn’t know if any families and students would want to take a chance on a brand new high school.”
Taylor graduated in 2011 with Valor’s first four-year cohort. Rudy followed in 2013 and Graylen in 2015. Every graduation day—for every student—affirms the vision and dedication of pioneer families like the Goffs.
Now you know why the tassels mean so much.
Back in 2005, Jody says, “There was a vision of excellence, but I don’t know that we could totally articulate it.”
She calls it a “transformational moment” when the task force visited Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California. “When we got there, it was like God just totally blew the top off what we thought our little vision of excellence was.”
They came home determined to develop a college preparatory school where students could discover “how God uniquely gifted them.” And without “settling for less than the best in academics, athletics, arts, and so on, in exchange for being in a faith-based environment.”
Why couldn’t a school be excellent in all things for the sake of lasting influence? The motto was born: Influence through excellence.
For students and alumni, Jim says the motto means, “If you’re excellent in your field and your heart is with God, the two of those things together put you in a really powerful position to have a positive influence on the world.”
“I get excited about investing in something based on Christ and a pursuit of excellence that can last not only for decades, but for centuries.”
The investment has been and still is “so worth it,” Jody says.
“Your kids are going to be given a great opportunity to pursue their passions,” Jim says, “and they’re going to be loved.”