Valley Alliance for Education marks 25 years
October marks the 25th anniversary of the Valley Alliance for Education (VAE). The all-volunteer, non-profit, community organization was formed in October 1990 for the purpose of promoting excellence in public school education in Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro. VAE essentially builds partnerships between educators, the community at large, and businesses to promote initiatives benefiting local area students in their classrooms.
VAE’s primary focus is its Creative Classroom Grants (CCG) program. The grants have funded everything from iPods to microscopes to composition software, books, games, and other educational tools that go directly into specific classroom initiatives. The grants supplement educational budgets and have touched thousands of students. In the 25 years since inception, VAE has awarded nearly $570,000 to area schools. That’s a legacy to be proud of!
Greg Godsey, a senior vice-president at Union Bank & Trust, was a charter member of VAE. He commented, “VAE is as relevant and important today as it was 25 years ago. The supplemental programs benefit the whole community, providing learning tools that our area children might not otherwise be exposed to.”
Christy Davis, a teacher in Staunton City Schools, holds a record of 13 grant awards. She said, “The grants have been instrumental in maximizing student learning in my classroom. The grants have funded a variety of projects, and we are fortunate to have a local organization that recognizes and addresses classroom needs. The programs have long term benefits, and has helped teachers like me reach thousands of students.”
VAE relies solely on corporate and individual donations to fund the annual Creative Classroom Grants, however, the organization’s outreach goes far beyond grant making. VAE members serve as role models for area high school mentorship programs, participate in the Community Foundation’s Dawbarn Awards and chair the Business Education Exchange Committee, which partners with business leaders in the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce on educational initiatives.
Dr. Eric Bond, Superintendent of Augusta County Schools, is currently on the VAE Board. He commented, “VAE plays such an important role. It provides an avenue for area teachers to creatively engage students of all ages and all grade levels. The CCGs provide much needed educational tools, while the organization as a whole creates and fosters opportunities with businesses and community-minded individuals.”
“We are an active volunteer group,” said Rob Cale, current president of VAE, “and we are thankful for all those that have served. We are fortunate to have had a long list of community and business leaders that contributed to the organization’s mission of promoting excellence in public schools, resulting in an improved quality of life and long-term economic prosperity for the region.”
In 1990, when VAE began, there was no internet, no iAnything, and only one “Home Alone” movie. “But some things never change,” said Ken Boward, past president of VAE. “It’s rewarding to look back and know that we made a difference. The silver anniversary is a great milestone, and more importantly, an opportunity to recognize that our school systems continuously need community support.”