A Letter from the VCMS Principal – June 2021

Silver Linings or Touches of Grey?

In last week’s parent newsletter, I shared the names of staff members who will not be returning to VCMS next year. Because a few of the staff members have worked on campus for many years, I am going to include here the excerpt from the weekly parent newsletter honoring those who are not returning to VCMS next year. As I was preparing this month’s letter, I was struck with the thought of how this time of year is a time of great promise and excitement that is coupled with the realization of time passing.

When I started working at VC, I had the extreme privilege of working alongside eleven of my former high school teachers/staff members. The nervousness of growing into a peer relationship with my former teachers coupled with the extreme sense of belonging to the VC Community was a gift not many of my classmates were able to experience. It is one I treasure to this day. (However, I never could call Mr. McQueen by his first name.)

With that in mind, I find a silver lining in the fact that both of my children had the opportunity to know several of my former teachers, as VC students themselves. And, each of them developed a particularly special relationship with Mrs. Joyaux (but then again, all of the VC kiddos are special to Mrs. Joyaux – and she makes sure each and every one of them knows she feels that way). The touch of grey is the fact that Mrs. Joyaux is now beginning a well-deserved retirement. That means that starting next school year, only one of the original eleven former teachers/staff members will still teaching at VC – the one and only Kipp Johnson (whom I had the privilege of having as a math AND physics teacher).

One might say that this should not be surprising as I myself have now worked for VCS since 1998 and I have had the privilege of working alongside nine of my own former students during my tenure at VCS. I am both blessed and grateful to each and every person who has crossed my path and joined me along the journey no matter how long or short their visit was. Whether a student, parent or staff member – each of you has left an imprint of your spirit on our campus. We are grateful to have walked alongside you and hope our paths cross again. So, silver lining or touch of grey? I think I’ll channel “Peter Quill” and say “a bit of both.”

The following is an excerpt from 5/29/21 Weekly VCMS Parent Newsletter:


A bitter sweet part of the close of any school-year is acknowledging those who are leaving the VCMS staff. As we close out the school-year, we have a few staff members who will not be returning next year. We thank each of them for their time at Valley Catholic Middle School and wish them well in their future endeavors. New staff announcements will be made in the coming weeks but please take a moment to join us in saying good-bye to the following teachers. Teachers are listed in the order of the number of years they have worked at VCMS, shortest to longest.

Amanda Hudson – Mrs. Hudson and Mr. Hudson welcomed their first child, daughter Mackenzie, in early March. Since that time, Mrs. Hudson has decided “to step away from teaching for a few years” so that she can raise her daughter. We wish Mrs. Hudson the best as she begins this next chapter.

Kerry Taylor – Mr. Taylor will be relocating to New Zealand and has the following message for the school community: “I have loved working at VCMS. I will be relocating to Auckland, New Zealand with my wife to pursue a PhD in Education as well as continue to further myself as a middle school educator.” Mr. Taylor will undoubtedly be missed.

Neema Sahebi – Mr. Sahebi will be relocating to Germany and has the following message for the school community: “It has been a pleasure to grow these past three years and be part of this school’s mission. However, this will sadly be my last year at Valley Catholic. In the fall, I will be moving back to Germany, where I will be teaching History, Political Science, and Ethics at the Berlin British School. Though it is bittersweet to leave, I am hopeful of what the next chapter holds.” Mr. Sahebi is not only a VCMS teacher, Mr. Sahebi also graduated from VCS. We hope these deep ties to the VC community mean we will see him at Valley Catholic again, sometime in the future.

Kathleen Birrell – Mrs. Birrell would like to share: “It has been a blessing and an honor to be a teacher here at Valley Catholic for the past 9 years. Watching the students grow up and become successful young adults has been the best part. Thank you to the VC community for all the love and support you have given to me and my family.” Mrs. Birrell joined Valley Catholic Elementary School in 2013 and moved to the Middle School program in 2016. Over the years, Mrs. Birrell has been a member of the Middle School English staff, helped in Social Studies, taught the sixth grade study skills classes and most recently taught eighth grade PE. Mrs. Birrell will be missed by the students and staff alike.

Dale French – Mr. French shares that “The next chapter of my professional journey of impacting students through education and helping shape a better tomorrow will begin next year at Scappoose High School as their Vice Principal and Athletic Director. I would like to thank all the Sisters and all of the members of the campus community for the memories and opportunities they have provided my family over the past two decades. We will always be Valiants and strive to make the Sisters proud!”

Mr. French started his time at Valley Catholic in 1999 as the VCHS Athletic Director, and over the years, he has worked as VCHS Dean of Students, and VCHS Vice Principal, while also teaching PE and economics classes and coaching basketball, cross country and track for VCHS. Mr. French moved into the Middle School Vice Principal role in 2015 where he helped develop the iPad program and assisted in promoting the work of the Safety Committee, adopting best practices for safety procedures, and ensuring we have strong relationships with our local SROs (School Resource Officers). Mr. French will certainly be missed and we wish him all the best as he moves into his new role at Scappoose High School.

Jen Gfroerer