2017 VVS Dream Run

Verde Valley School is excited to announce its first-ever, non-competitive 5K fun run on March 25th. The 2017 VVS Dream Run will begin and end on the school campus, located at 3511 Verde Valley School Road, Sedona, starting at 9:00am, and is open to all ages and abilities.

The event is a fundraiser with all proceeds going toward tuition fees for Native American students at Verde Valley School. The registration fee is $30 per person and includes an attractive dri-fit t-shirt featuring the iconic Dream Run logo. There is also a reduced fee of $20 for students 19 and under. Registration details can be found online HERE, or by contacting Dream Run organizer, Leigh Carter at lcarter@vvsaz.org or 520-234-6881. Continue Reading…

National Alumni Events 2017

We are hitting the road this year to celebrate 68 years with VVS Alumni!  Head of School, Paul Amadio, and Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Jenae McCarroll, are co-hosting lively events across the country, with class agents and VVS ambassadors. Check out the events coming to your area and save the date in your calendar, today. Make sure to contact us to let us know you are coming, or if you would like to help do outreach or host an event. Hope to see you all very soon! Continue Reading…

VVS announces college preparatory residency for June 2017

Verde Valley School Announces College Launch AZ for Summer 2017

With generous support from the Arizona Community Foundation, Sedona-based Verde Valley School will host its inaugural College Launch AZ June 19-25, 2017. College Launch is a tuition-free, week long residential College Application Workshop for twenty high-achieving 10th and 11th grade students from historically underrepresented communities in the Verde Valley and throughout Arizona.   Continue Reading…

Fall News from the VVS Farm

Mike Spielman ~ VVS Farm Manager

We planted garlic the other day. It went into one of the first beds we ever dug back in 2013, just to the south of the gate between a fading amaranth and the frozen stems of a Roma Olorode. I remember the three students who helped chop that dirt for the first time: one from California, another from South Korea, and the other from Saudi Arabia. We wondered if life was more like a circle or a spiral. We had no answers. Only wonder.   

December is my favorite time on the farm. Cabbages and greens are tucked beneath their winter sheets. The leaves of the fruit trees have blown into their wells. The Osgood Greenhouse is full of banana plants, mangoes and peppers. Seeds are drying. Squash are cured. The field is laid bare and we can begin to dream about next year’s design.

Walking around the new expansion I remember that this time last year it did not exist. There was no greenhouse either. The fencing for the southern expansion is now more than half done. Last month we ordered 57 fruit trees.  Fifty seven fruit trees!  Eleven pears. Seven peaches. Six plums.  Sixteen apples. Persimmons, nectarines, quince and sixty grape vines too. A lot of holes to dig between now and March!

We are back at the Sedona Farmer’s Market.  Please stop in and say hello if you are local. We are selling heirloom beans, winter squash, dried peppers, and Jerusalem artichokes.  Most of the greens right now are going to the Yavapai Food Council.  If you are a gardener and live far away, drop us a line. We’ll send some seeds.

A thousand thank you’s to all who have supported us this year!  We are honored and blessed and as always, excited to get back to work.

VVS Admissions Team visits China and Germany

Sean Fagan ~ Director of Admissions

Our Director of Admissions, Sean Fagan, recently spent a three-week stretch in China visiting with prospective students and families, current Verde Valley School families, international and Chinese schools, agents and educational consultants. The cities he visited included Beijing, Jinan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dalian.

Many Chinese value the “western” educational approach (i.e., the emphasis on critical thinking, experiential learning, collaboration, smaller class sizes, etc.) and thoroughly enjoy learning more about a unique school like VVS. They are very appreciative that a boarding school experience can offer a Chinese student cultural immersion, a sense of independence, a higher level of English proficiency, and help prepare them for successful college/university study in the US.

Currently, there are approximately 38,000 Chinese secondary students in US schools and some 350,000 in US universities and colleges.

“The demand from the Chinese for a US education is strong,” says Fagan. “Education in China is very focused on testing and preparing for annual national exams. Many families are looking at US schools as an alternative. They also value the reputation of US colleges and universities.”

Sean was able to meet with, and interview, eight prospective students in China, and presented to six educational consultancy groups on his trip. He visited three schools (one international and two Chinese) to discuss possible future collaborations. Current families eagerly expressed their happiness with the experiences their children are having at VVS.

VVS also recruits in Europe. Associate Director of Admissions, Shannon Jakes, has recently returned from a recruiting in tour in Germany that took her to school fairs in Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Duesseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin.She was able to talk with 15 different German families throughout her week of travel. She found that the students and families she met were eager to experience a school, such as VVS, with an emphasis on experiential and outdoor programs. She also observed that the VVS International Baccalaureate curriculum aligns well with the German curriculum, allowing achieving students to study in the US and return to Germany on track for further university study in Europe. When Shannon met German VVS alum throughout her trip, the thing that students said they missed the most about their exchange is the student teacher relationships as well as the tight knit community this school offers.

Admission staff have also been busy in the US attending various school fairs in Arizona, California, Utah, Texas and Nevada. These fairs are a great opportunity to meet prospective families and educational consultants and to visit “feeder” schools in the area.

Admissions is organizing more recruiting trips in the spring of 2017!

2016 First Trimester Residential Life

Dr. Jules Troyer ~ Dean of Students and Residential Life

The first trimester here at VVS was filled with many magical moments that our talented students  engaged in as a complement to their rigorous academic studies.

The school year kicked off with an epic dorm decorating contest for which students had a mere $20 to accomplish a themed make-over of their choice. Their creativity and passion were inspiring, and some of the themes included were: Under the Sea, Pokemon, Americana, Alice in Wonderland, and China. Students, faculty, and staff were led on a tour of all the dorms, fed goodies along the way, and encouraged to vote for their favorite dorm decorations. It was an emotional moment of glee when the Shixi students from Shanghai were informed their Chinese themed dorm had won the competition! The reward of a pizza and hot wing party was a big hit!

Awesomeness Day is an annual tradition at the onset of the school year that allows students to play, have fun, and get to know each other. This year students had a ton of thrills on a huge inflatable jump game,  throwing  balls at a basketball hoop while attempting to balance!  Other games on the day included a clue finding scavenger hunt that tested their knowledge of VVS and its history; birdie-on-a-perch, and capture-the-flag.  All these activities kept students engaged and allowed them to team up with their classes and meet new people.

Here at VVS, Halloween is a huge bash! Faculty houses were decorated for trick or treating, there was a massive pumpkin carving party, a very interactive student staffed haunted house, and a costume dance. This year the theme of our dance was Dia de los Muertos and the student class presidents came together to decorate Brady Hall with amazing sugar skulls. There were three pinatas filled with goodies and for many of the students, this was the first time they had participated in (or even heard of) the tradition of breaking a pinata. As alway it was a special day for VVS, and students, faculty, and staff  thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dress up in some really creative costumes.

These highlights provide only a snapshot of the many amazing moments VVS had in the first leg of this academic journey of the 2016-2017 school year.  Jules says she is blessed to be part of such a mindful, talented, passionate, and intelligent group of people. She believes our community is a unique blend of academic integrity, progressive conscientiousness, and raw good old fashioned fun. “As the year is racing to a close,” Jules said, “I am moved to thank each of you for finding your way into the family we call VVS, and send you warmest wishes for a bright holiday full of love and laughter!”


2016 First Trimester Academic Achievement

Kristen Dotti ~ Academic Dean

Congratulations on supporting your child through the mid-point in the school year.  The students at Verde Valley School have adapted well to the rhythm of their classes. They have learned to juggle sports, study hours, extra help sessions, class functions, dorm time and their social life.

The effort and level of engagement made by our student body has been spectacular so far this year.  Your children are passionate learners who strive to try new things, test out ideas and conjectures, seek evidence from credible sources, and essentially stretch their wings in both the classroom and during independent study.  And our teachers are exceptional: their instruction and care for your children is something the students remark on constantly.

Overall we have seen the highest GPA in the past several years for the senior class for the fall trimester.  This is a remarkable achievement given the addition of SAT/ACT and college applications that are added to this time period.  Our junior class started the IB Diploma Programme with enthusiasm and an ease I have not seen yet.  Transfer students and the new freshman class  joined Field Trips and carried out group projects in each of their courses in December. In the process they made a place for themselves in the classroom, and became a thread in the fabric of our community.  Many of our new students have been learning English as they take their classes reading, writing and listening to a foreign language all day and performing at a very high level each day.  That takes commitment and perseverance!

With Trimester 1 behind us, the students all have a foundation of the skills needed for their full-year courses.  Each course strives to teach each student specific study habits that lead to success in either that course (for example field research methods for Anthropology), or in school in general (such as taking notes from a primary source article).  We share the benefits from these skills by building on them in other courses and throughout your child’s years at VVS, making it possible to teach in greater depth and expose the students to a wide variety of experiences.

Decembermester allowed the students to create student-designed projects and pursue those plans with independence and self-direction.  What a wonderful time of year where students are expected to immerse themselves in their work and see the pay-off of persistence and ingenuity.

Winter Break will provide a much needed holiday from the rigor and pace of life on campus.  Please help your child enjoy the holiday by promoting rest and time away from academics.  We hope you and your child can savor time together for the next few weeks so they are energized when they return in January.

Thank you for allowing your child to attend Verde Valley School!

Words From Paul Amadio

Paul Amadio

Dear Friends

I have been asked by Tamara Cook, Board president and alumna from the class of 1983, to write you on behalf of Verde Valley School (VVS). I joined Verde Valley as head of school in July of 2015 having served for 30 years in public and private education as head of school, administrator, teacher and also as a long-time consultant for schools and educational non-profits. Many of the schools I have served share common elements, including rigorous academics, successful graduates, and talented faculty. VVS also shares these characteristics, and we deliver education in a way no other school I know of does.

We call this type of education IB + Dirt. Midst the inimitable red rocks of Sedona, VVS offers the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum through a fully developed experiential model — and we see impressive student results in the colleges and universities to which they are admitted. We also ask the essential questions challenging educators all over the world and believe we have the answers. Those questions include: “If six of the top ten jobs of 2014 did not even exist in 2004, looking forward, what skills will today’s students need to be prepared for college and to build successful careers? What skills will they need to be good citizens and positive change agents of the world?”

VVS began as a love story between a man from Harvard University and the daughter of an English plantation owner living in Guatemala. Hamilton and Barbara Warren took a visionary leap when founding the school in 1948. Post World War II brought a world that was disjointed, with millions of people displaced. In our neighborhood, Native Americans were being sequestered to reservations. The Warren’s created an international school in the beauty and safety of Sedona to provide a place where students, from all parts of the world, would find acceptance and an opportunity to experience a world-class education. They established the guiding principles of academic excellence, intercultural understanding and world citizenship, a commitment to environmental stewardship, the value of physical labor, and service to humanity with a willing spirit. To this day, those guiding principles anchor the daily lives of VVS students and faculty. We live by them each day.

How we go about educating our students has, appropriately, changed over the past sixty-five years to meet the needs of students in an ever-shifting educational climate. The reason we exist as a school has not. Today’s Verde Valley School is guided by our history and tradition as a multinational institution of principle, excellence and heart. Our community is comprised of 120 students from 18 countries and 14 states. Students from Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Rwanda, and many other countries, learn world citizenship and cultural understanding through an intentional program. Peace is possible. Verde Valley demonstrates that each day. While there is no formal language to describe what the Warren’s meant by “environmental stewardship”, VVS was one of the first schools to include it in its mission. We take that responsibility as stewards seriously, where each student is involved regularly in work jobs and in our sustainability program, caring for the the land, planting and harvesting in the organic farm, and overseeing our recycling and composting systems (100% of our table scraps and ware are composted). Students leave VVS and return to their neighborhoods to create positive change for our climate and our world.

Among the goals of the new Strategic Plan is to protect the school’s land — and not sell any of the property. Our expanding two acre VVS Farm is situated on 30 acres of developable land beneath Cathedral Rock. The Farm illustrates an integrated and growing program that provides locally sourced foods for VVS dining services, the local community, and serves as an educational model for several area organizations including public and charter schools. Currently VVS is seen as a leader in sustainability for the region. The attention on this area has brought like-minded partners, collaborators, and participants to the VVS campus. Our goal is to create an educational institute with facilities and outdoor space for dynamic programming in arts, health, wellness, and sustainability. Currently the Farm is expanding to include a Food Forest comprised of fruit trees and local fauna to complement the nearly 100 seed to harvest foods grown on the land.

One of the school’s sustainability-centered programs is a the annual Verde Valley School Farm to Table Feast – a celebration of delicious and nutritious local foods and wines that sells out every year. This much anticipated  event literally brings to our table the people who grow, raise, prepare and joyously consume sustainable, ethical, local food from our region. Held during September at the Head of School’s house on the breathtaking, red-rock landscape of the VVS school campus, the dinner features courses prepared by extraordinary, award winning area chefs. Complemented by local wine and micro brew beer purveyors, each course features locally sourced, fresh, just-picked ingredients from the VVS gardens and local farms.

Naturally, I am biased about VVS. I hope you will appreciate that to really know us, you have to visit us. And with that spirit in mind, please consider this letter an open invitation to visit Verde Valley School as my personal guest.


Paul Amadio

Head of School