The VLK Experience

Experience that is the name of this article because it carries weight. It carries the weight of decades of educational design for the largest school districts in Texas. It carries the weight of working for small, hometown school districts whose singular school embodies the entire community. It carries the weight of generations of dedication to crafting our profession, so our service and designs capture the vision of our clients and inspire students who learn there. It carries the weight of years of research and development in linking the design of the learning space to methods of teaching and the way in which students learn. It carries the weight that says when you partner with VLK, you are partnered with the benchmark in educational design, and we'll never stop innovating.

VLK's experience shares a glimpse of the successes that come with true partnerships with our clients, dedication to service, and thought leadership in school design. Credit must be given to those partnerships. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to serve our clients and be their representative to their parents, students, and communities. Those opportunities come with trust in our firm, and we do not take that trust lightly. We know that the work we do today impacts the future; this fortifies our resolve to do great work and it inspires us to always challenge the status quo for learning environments, so not only do the students of today benefit from the school, but also the generations to come.

Our experience also captures the significance of people ' those at VLK and the people we get to work with. Our profession takes an unimaginable amount of devotion. The devotion our clients have in providing for their communities' children is reflected in turn in the work of designing their schools. To say we are proud of the results of that work would be an understatement. It doesn't capture the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a new, 3,500-student high school or the jubilation of the students arriving at a new campus conceived for them five years before. It doesn't capture all of the work required to develop unique programs and the spaces that will support them in a new world class STEAM Center. And, it doesn't capture the many hours of planning and work within a community to gain the voters' trust, so a district can replace their 80-year-old, heart-of-the-community, elementary school campus.

These people, these successes, these experiences ' they come from a framework of fortitude. It wasn't long ago that our economy was in dire straits. Banks collapsed, the housing market dried up, and the state's education budget was drastically cut, making an already intolerable situation worse. Now, with the growing economy and our clients actively building new facilities, times are good again. But, it is no time to simply celebrate. We are leveraging that success and investing in the VLK brand ' People, Service, and Solutions. We have grown our firm's leadership, benefiting from our employees' decades of experience, which in turn allows us to continue to maximize service to our clients. We have expanded our reach across Texas with offices in El Paso and Austin. And we are driving the future of learning environment design through the development of VLK's Curriculum Council where we work with the foremost leaders in the state in curriculum leadership and research. As in all things, the pendulum will likely swing in the other direction. The economy could slow, there could be new budget cuts, legislation could implement new unfunded mandates, etc. But facilities will still need to be improved, students will still need new schools, and our clients will still need to plan for the future. When these challenging times arrive, that's when EXPERIENCE truly counts.

'Exhibit Integrity without Compromise.' Of all our core values, this is my favorite. It inspires us to always do the right thing ' to continue to strive for the ultimate solution; to stand in front of a school board and be accountable, just as they are accountable to their community; to embrace the talent and intelligence of the entire team; to deliver on the promise to provide unparalleled service; to provide the best learning environment possible for the students. It exemplifies VLK.