Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Villa Forts: More Than “Just” Child’s Play

What’s with all the forts?

What occurs in the orchard each day is more than “JUST” child’s play.

It begins with a desire inherent in most every kid to establish a “special place”…those forts and tree houses, closets and nooks of childhood where we escape with our favorite book, a best friend, or even just our imagination. That simple want, say to build a fort, becomes far more complex in a school setting where there are dozens of others who share the desire. A remarkable process thus unfolds: one that David Sobel describes as children reliving the history of the human race:

“They create primitive shelters, form tribes, battle over resources, learn to barter, create legal systems, invent currency, learn to monitor their own behavior, recognize the impact of the built environment on the natural environment, learn to restore changed ecosystems.”

Indeed, that is exactly what our staff and faculty witness throughout the year as we observe children engaged in fort building.

As a whole, the opportunity for this kind of learning through play is quickly vanishing.

A lack of open, “wild” spaces, safety concerns, and a achievement oriented culture that doesn’t value play, keeps kids mostly indoors or in structured outdoor activities.

Fortunately, Villa and this beautiful campus provide students with opportunities that most kids don’t have. This year’s Fund-a-Need offers an exceptional chance to provide them with even more sacred “unplugged” space to explore, create and experiment. Learn more about Working Our Way to the Water by visiting our FAN webpage here.

Auction Tickets Now On Sale!!

Tickets are now on sale for Villa’s Masquerade Ball and Auction: MAGIC+MISCHIEF in BLACK+WHITE!! Join us on Friday, March 7 at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel for what will certainly be a party to remember! Purchase your tickets today!


GiveBIG for Villa Academy on May 15!

Grow your gift to Villa Academy by participating with The Seattle Foundation on May 15 in their third annual GiveBIG – a one-day, online charitable giving event.  Each credit card donation made to Villa Academy via the Seattle Foundation website between midnight and midnight (Pacific Daylight Time) 
on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, will be stretched further thanks to The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors, who will match a share of every contribution. Please plan to donate on May 15!


Online Auction Open! Let the Bidding Begin!

The Great Gatsby Online Auction is now open. The auction will run from 10AM on February 20, 2013 to 10PM February 27, 2013. Auction items range from exotic vacation getaways to donated items guaranteed to delight and surprise. The online auction is open to anyone, so share this with your friends, family, community.

Let the bidding begin!









Update from the Head of School


December 7, 2012


Dear Friends,

Today I met with the Villa Parent Association (VPA) and presented an overview of a comprehensive school improvement plan, associated with our Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) re-accreditation process that will commence with the 2013-2014 academic year.  As an accredited school, Villa Academy undergoes a peer review process on a seven-year cycle, with our next evaluation scheduled for the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

PNAIS accreditation is an inclusive, continuing process that involves reflection, rigor and forethought to assist each member school to clarify and live its own vision, mission and values. The process promotes quality standards without standardization in a way that supports both school independence and educational quality in a collegial environment of peer review.

PNAIS schools voluntarily join the Association and, in so doing, commit to the core value of continuous school improvement with the goal of maintaining accreditation through compliance with the Association’s Standards and Indicators. PNAIS accreditation is an elective and thorough process that ensures that schools have the leadership, resources, organization, staffing and structures in place to allow for continual improvement that will sustain schools and ensure a quality educational program over time.

At Villa Academy, the most recent  on-going school improvement process generated from our 2007 accreditation report, but began in earnest during the 2010 – 2011 academic year under the leadership of Mrs. Jody Elsner, Villa’s Lower School Director who was, at that time, Villa’s Interim-Head of School.  During that year, Mrs. Elsner and the Villa faculty and staff began studying the components and implications of a “21st century education” at Wednesday afternoon faculty/staff meetings and through outside reading and research.

There are numerous definitions of “21st century education/21st century skills,” but a particularly useful and succinct definition comes from Mr. Barnett Berry, founder and chief executive officer of the Center for Teaching Quality:

Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures. Students demonstrate the three Rs but also the three Cs: creativity, communication and collaboration. They demonstrate digital literacy as well as civic responsibility. Powerful learning of this nature demands well-prepared teachers who draw on advances in cognitive science and are strategically organized in teams, in and out of cyberspace.”

The research, review and discussion of “21st century education/skills” at Villa Academy continues and includes both formal and informal conversations centered on the application of new instructional techniques and curricular standards, while ever mindful of our Mission as a Catholic independent school dedicated to excellence in the education of the whole child and guided by the Cabrinian tradition of educating compassionate hearts and confident minds.

This self-assessment and professional development process, along with our review of educational “best practices,” serves as one foundational leg of a school improvement process.

The second foundational leg of Villa’s school improvement process is the formal PNAIS self-study, which will be conducted during the 2013 – 2014 academic year. The self-study is an inclusive, collaborative and reflective process involving the Head of School, the Board, faculty, staff, parents, students, alumni and others who have an interest in the school and its future. It provides the background information and analysis upon which a peer review team will rely during their visit to Villa Academy in the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

The self-study process, followed by a peer review report, looks for congruence between a school’s mission and its programs and practices, and starts with a review of the school’s mission statement. The process considers the school’s strengths, weaknesses, priorities and plans and should identify any “gaps” as well as articulate aspirations (programs and facilities) for school improvement.  A peer review team will review the self-study and, following a three-day visit to the school, provide an additional written report to the Head of School offering team observations and highlighting areas of commendation, recommendations and conditions that the school must satisfy in order to maintain accreditation.

Considering the best practices/standards of a 21st century education, the findings of our self-study and the report from a peer-review accreditation visit, a new school improvement plan (Visioning Villa – 2017) will be developed and pursued in the years ahead.  In this improvement plan I hope to draw on all of the sundry skills and significant talents of the Villa community and will rely on its collective wisdom to make Villa Academy all that it can be – sooner rather than later!  This school improvement plan may suggest that the Villa Academy Board of Trustees consider a capital campaign in the next couple of years to support our improvement goals, to further Villa’s progress and to fully meet its Mission and Vision.  This is an option that has been occasionally discussed at meetings of the Board of Trustees over the last eighteen months, though no decision has yet been made.

This graphic was presented to the VPA to help illustrate this process:


The next few years at Villa Academy will be exciting – and pivotal.  I’m enthusiastic about our future and our potential and am convinced that the best is yet to come!

Stay tuned!



John K. Milroy

Head of School

Volunteering at Villa!

Do you like to help out? Do you want to be involved in your children’s daily life at school or get excited about behind the scenes work? There are volunteer opportunities for any and every skill set or desired level of involvement.

We have an extra need of Lunchroom Volunteers this year as many of our long term volunteers have “graduated” leaving openings for this position.

Sign up here. (Login required, login recovery available at the site)

Other ways a Villa Parent may become involved are:

  • Room parents
  • Auction project coordinators
  • Library helpers
  • Parent Education coordinators
  • Faculty/Staff Appreciation
  • Open House helpers
  • Lost & Found organization
  • Uniform Exchange
  • Performing Arts
  • CYO Sports
  • And much more

Mother Cabrini Italian Dinner

Register now for the Mother Cabrini Italian Dinner on September 21st!

The Riga-Tones!

This year, we’re celebrating the legacy of Mother Cabrini, her strong Italian roots, and the importance of family. Dinner will be served “family-style” in the Rainbow Theater and Cafeteria.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and there will be a short program featuring Head of School John Milroy and Villa Students, followed by the Italian musical stylings of The RigaTones!