We started with our own four kids, ages 7, 6, 5 and 4. But that soon changed. Our biggest obstacle was that we were growing our students so quickly that we kept outgrowing our spaces. We went from the Village School space, to this cool old house on Park Street, to where we are now.
All that growth was a real indicator to us that VIA was working. It was obvious that not just we, but other parents, other families, were desperate to provide their kids with another alternative to the public schools. When parents started seeing children making improvement at VIA, word spread and classrooms grew. We never worried about failing, but there were early challenges. Looking back I was so incredibly naïve about things. But failing? It wasn’t an option. Bills and funding were the biggest challenges. One of the largest hurdles that we didn’t anticipate as a new school was being properly licensed with the Department of Education. If you aren’t compliant with state laws, you can be immediately shut down, and we had been operating without one. Whoops.
At the time, David Gordon, a co-founder whose son Daniel was one of the first four kids, was working with us and looking back, thank god he was with us. He took a year off from working at his job at UVA to help out with VIA. The kind of guy that got in at 7AM and worked until 9PM. When we were faced with this Department of Education crisis, David put his head down and put together the most beautiful, formal licensing application. Color-coded. Hundreds of pages. Pristine. This compliance officer comes in, reviews David’s work and the school, and gives us a three-year certification, which is unheard of. Normally, you would get a one-year certification, 2 years max. That’s what’s standard. This was a huge moment for us, and a major validation that we were on the right track. It felt like we’d made it.