Gratitude

Upward: Our Head of School's Blog
For me, the holidays present an opportune time to step back, take a deep breath and reflect on the past year. And what a year it has been! In doing so, I get in touch with the wonderful opportunities that have been presented to me here in the Vail Valley. I embrace my good fortune and acknowledge with deep gratitude what this past year has brought me and the rest of my family.

I am grateful to the VMS Board of Trustees for reaching out to me, for trusting me, and for supporting the innovation and growth that has been the hallmark of our administrative efforts in the past six months. You have provided me with the opportunity to return to the state I love and to my family, and introduced me to the wonderful Vail Valley.

In all of my years in education, I have never encountered a more welcoming faculty and staff; a group of professionals who love children, are passionate about their subject matter, enthusiastic for innovation and change, and who embrace the VMS mission and vision unconditionally. I am truly grateful to call all of you my colleagues.

I am also grateful to the families of VMS. Parents, grandparents, and students alike have welcomed my wife, Kathimarie, and me to the Valley and to the School. In just a few short months, we feel connected to the community and have enjoyed our immersion in the mountain lifestyle. We best serve our students when there is a genuine partnership with our families and that is palpable here at VMS.

Of course, I wish to express immense gratitude for my family. Their unconditional love and support sustain me. My family provides me with balance, perspective, unflinching constructive feedback and the wisdom that comes only from a deep, shared history. I am grateful too, that my definition of family is expanding to include all the wonderful people I’ve met since joining the VMS community.

As we approach the new year, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the extraordinary progress we have all accomplished together since the opening of school. Our new advanced software systems, such as Haiku and Naviance, have improved communications and data sharing, and provided a valuable tool to assist students in the college search. The upgraded technology lab, with the newest addition of a 3D Printer, has brought students in droves to the concepts of Design Thinking and Maker Space opportunities. The upcoming construction of our new greenhouse and its accompanying Garden to Table Curriculum will enhance our already healthy environment. We have also almost doubled our Professional Development budget, offering numerous opportunities for enrichment for our faculty, not to mention a more affordable and robust medical benefits program for all faculty and staff. The launch of our new initiative to include international students among our VMS population will add diversity and countless cultural exchanges in the future. These are only a fraction of the programs we have developed and the progress we have made, and this is just the beginning!

Thank you and have a safe and restful holiday!

–Mike

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.