Critical thinking, successful collaboration, academic challenge, intellectual risk taking and project-based learning – this is what we can guarantee in a VVS classroom. And a “classroom” can mean many different things – nearby Oak Creek, our campus quad, the Hopi reservation, the beaches of California.
Small class sizes help, as does a first-name relationship between teachers and students where respect for each other and the learning environment allow students to be impassioned learners who are given space to take their opinions and their thoughts seriously. There is no back row, and we like it that way.
Students have the opportunity to earn two diplomas – the Verde Valley School diploma and the IB diploma, granted by the International Baccalaureate Organization. Freshmen and sophomores follow our Underclassmen Collaboration curriculum and juniors and seniors study the IB curriculum. All students enroll in one course from each of the following groups:
Studies in Language and Literature
We believe that literature is essentially an ongoing conversation among writers and readers about what it means to be human, and we challenge students to engage whole-heartedly in this conversation. We also believe that literature can enable us to live more than once, that it offers the special pleasure of experiencing, in imagination, people and places we might otherwise never know, and that such experience fosters compassion, empathy and tolerance.
Language is at the heart of learning. It is how thought, meaning and understanding are expressed, and provides access to literature, culture, history, the sciences and the arts. It provides us with immediate access to different cultures and perspectives and integration into the school community as well as local and international communities.
Individuals and Societies
Both the mission statements of VVS and the International Baccalaureate Program specifically state aims to develop multicultural understanding and respect. This mission is central to the Individuals and Societies’ philosophy. Through a variety of courses, students graduate VVS with a solid foundation in the history and cultures of the United States and world and an appreciation for understanding this subject through a truly intercultural and diverse perspective.
Have you ever wondered which chemical in your bathroom closet is the most toxic? A group of chemistry students did and were amazed at the answer. Have you ever measured the change in your heart rate when you stick your face in cold water? Probably not, but a biology student heard about the mammalian diving reflex, decided to check it out, and the results were staggering. And how did you learn the equation of a line? Probably not by chucking a Barbie doll of a balcony like in our physical science class. Students in VVS science classes are true scientists, asking questions and using scientific inquiry to find the answers.
We believe math should be interactive, exciting, and applicable. All students have different aptitudes and interests in mathematics, and our job is to individually address these ranges. Whether a student is interested in music or physics, our goal is to show them the value, beauty and usefulness of mathematics.
Visual and Performing Arts
We encourage students to try a variety of arts classes – photography, ceramics, drawing, painting, music and theatre – in their freshman and sophomore years, thereby discovering a passion which they can pursue in greater depth during their years in the IB. We are committed to this variety of opportunities because we strongly believe that development of the creative potential is a crucial aspect of nurturing a well-rounded individual, and that the ability to understand, appreciate, enjoy and create art is fundamental.
Imagine dedicating two hours each week to dissecting thought. That’s one way to look at TOK, one part of the IB Core. The Core of the IB Program makes the IB unique and special. Consisting of three components that are vastly different, it ties the pieces of the IB curriculum together.
- The Extended Essay asks students to engage in independent research through an in-depth study of a question relating to one of the DP subjects they are studying.
- Creativity, Action, Service involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies throughout the Diploma Program.
- Theory of Knowledge develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines.