In 23 years of publishing—this issue makes 270 actual magazines—I never once mentioned by name the elementary school my own two sons attended.
I wrote plenty of stories about the teachers and the community that enveloped my sons in love and learning during their most impressionable years. But I was always hyper-conscious about not using my platform as publisher to express my own personal child-rearing choices. So I never named names.
I wrote about the “bucket bath” homework assignment that imprinted lessons in conserving precious resources. I wrote about the “key word box” and the good advice a kindergarten teacher gave me to let my fledgling readers read out loud without constant correction because “fine tuning would come later.” And I wrote about the day that a gentle, wise woman who now has guided the school for nearly 40 years recognized that I was having a difficult day and read me the story of Owl and his pot of “tear-water tea.”
I didn’t find Paradise Valley’s Desert View Learning Center. It found me. And it changed my life—my parenting, my perspectives—forever.
Many current members of the RAK family also called Desert View home. Marketing Director Mary Ann Ortiz-Lieb. Writer/photographer Daniel Friedman. Writer Lynn Trimble. And staff multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint.
Still, despite numerous stories we have written about other wonderful schools and teachers, we never wrote a story that specifically focused on ours.
So what was up the morning I met with Vicki to talk about this fall’s podcast interviews? Why, after all these years, did we talk about interviewing Piya Jacob, the heart and soul of this most beloved school?
Vicki set up what I imagine to have been a delightful interview. And then she struggled to write an introduction for it.
“There is simply no way I could collapse into a few sentences the words for what DVLC gave our family,” she later told me. “I tried a couple of times but then gave up. My four kids all had this school in common—they were all ‘launched’ there and will carry with them forever what they learned about life, learning, and love. I see it in them every single day. It’s how they treat others and how they live their lives—with integrity and sincerity. Those are values I had hoped to impart to my children from the moment they were born…and DVLC showed me how to do that. Sending them there was one of the best decisions Frank and I have ever made, or will ever make.”
A few days later, Dan made a stop at Desert View to take a picture of Piya (she was always just “Piya” to parents and students). While he was there, she confided that this day was rather special. Later, when the whole school was assembled, she would announce that she was retiring.
As he left, Dan texted the news to me. And I knew, finally, why our timing was right.
Piya later emailed all current and future Desert View families, outlining her well-conceived plan for a smooth transition in leadership. It carried the characteristically humble and straightforward subject line “Next year at Desert View.”