The Werner Family: From Alumna to Parent

I chose Palm Valley as the foundation for my son’s education because as an alumna, I know firsthand the unparalleled sense of community, education, and individual support the school provides to each student.

I still remember my admission interview, and when I first met Ms. Zachik, my future English teacher. I felt so comfortable with her as we discussed literature and some of my favorite authors. It was the first time I felt such a genuine connection with a teacher, and after the interview, I told my parents I had made my decision, this was the school I wanted to attend. Throughout my entire high school experience, I continued to feel that close connection. I feel that the learning experience was superior to my peers attending other schools in the area, but what really sets Palm Valley apart is the personal attention given to every student with the goal of preparing them for college, down to the smallest details. Ms. Zachik and Ms. Heimberger spent hours with me helping me to perfect my college admissions essay. An admissions officer at the university I chose to attend later approached me to compliment my essay. Out of the hundreds of submissions he received from high schoolers all over the country, mine was memorable enough to stand out. That’s the Palm Valley difference.

The solid educational foundation provided by Palm Valley made the academic transition to college seamless. The social transition was harder because it wasn’t until then that I realized the real strength that a school community like ours has. My classmates weren’t just people I shared a classroom with; they were family. In a traditional high school, I could not have imagined that small group of kids from such diverse backgrounds even crossing paths, let alone becoming lifelong friends. To this day, my graduating class is still very close, and being able to reach out to them for support throughout my life is one of the most lasting benefits provided by Palm Valley.

In my work as a civilian contract negotiator for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, I regularly brief military leadership about issues related to national security. Before every briefing, I can still hear Mr. Sarkis, my high school drama teacher, telling me to “E-nun-ci-ate!” My teachers left a lasting impression that didn’t end, even when college began. Although it has been 15 years since I attended, the teachers that made such an impact on the course of my life and career are still helping guide students at Palm Valley today.

As parents, my husband and I want the best for our children. In 2016, we moved back to the Coachella Valley after our first child, Matthew, was born. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With the challenges of managing this health condition, the excitement of being new parents, and advancing our careers, now more than ever, we wanted a strong community where we could establish roots. When we heard about the toddler program at Palm Valley School, I knew it was an opportunity we had to take. Having my son grow up as part of the Palm Valley family like his mom has been amazing to watch. We welcomed our second baby, Madison, in July of 2017, and my hope is that she will be able to join her brother at Palm Valley, too. I know firsthand as an alumna that my child is in the best environment possible, and we as a family are part of something unique and special.

-Mike, Tiffany '02, Matthew & Madison

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