In typical HVA fashion, our leaders and teachers collaborated to describe our culture and values.

We hire great people and bring out the best in them through HVA’s phenomenal culture.

It starts with ownership.

Ownership makes all the difference. Our schools are designed to attract brilliant teachers and staff who are talented, driven, and willing to be held accountable for their work. Then we get out of their way and let them rock out! Because as charter schools we’re allowed to hold our teachers accountable for what students learn, we can give our teachers freedom to set the curricula for their classes and to determine how skills and content should be taught. In the same way, our teachers and staff also guide the school’s nonacademic life. They collaborate with each other and our school leaders to create everything from homework policy to afterschool programs. When important decisions need to be made, we share drafts, solicit feedback, and keep everyone in the loop. United by a common desire to provide a great education for our students, we revere give-and-take, diversity of opinion, and humility. And at the end of the day we hold ourselves accountable for results and continual improvement.

We keep getting better.

The freedom we enjoy at HVA is guided by purposeful collaboration with the rest of the team, so that we become better teachers and leaders every day. HVA is a lively laboratory of co-planning, co-grading, and co-observations followed up with genuine conversations. There’s no formula or magic bullet; just old-fashioned, hard questions like, “How could that section of the lesson have been more engaging?” As educators, we love the feeling of continually improving our craft.

We support each other, no matter what.

Our jobs can be challenging, and the respect and affection we feel for our colleagues is a big part of what keeps us going. When someone needs help, we run to pitch in: whether we’re helping a struggling student to get back on track or cleaning up a spilled cup of coffee, no one has to go it alone. When we’re having a difficult conversation with a teammate, we keep it real while keeping it positive. Joy, passion, and a sense of humor are our not-so-secret weapons. We love coming to work each day, and it shows.

It’s all about the kids.

When you teach at HVA, you get to do something extraordinary with your life: you get to spend your days being your best self. And that means you’re able to bring out the best in your students.



Children come first.

We put children’s needs before our own. The well-being and achievement of children is our highest priority, and all our decisions are based on what’s best for them.

Team before individual.

Being a team means helping others and going the extra mile to contribute to the group, rather than seeking the limelight. It’s working with people who share our values, and our desire to live a meaningful life dedicated to the greater good. It’s about humility and being loyal to people.

We revere teachers.

Schools should be designed to respect, nurture, develop, trust, and support teachers. The most revered individuals in our community are master teachers, as we profoundly respect a lifelong teaching career. We work tirelessly to support teachers in every way possible.

We radiate positivity.

We energize each other with positive talk, attitudes, and actions. We don’t tolerate even a little negativity, complaining, arrogance, divisiveness, or gossip—it does not bring sunshine to our day.

It’s a love fest in our love nest!

There are many ways we express our love: through acts of kindness, support, and appreciation. We hire people we really like, and we enjoy close relationships. Even when we’re frustrated or tired, we insist on treating each other as we would want to be treated.

Can you hear me now?

Real communication happens here—and the most important part is listening. So much good comes from listening and understanding one another. With our hearts in the right place, we assume the best of one another. We work through disagreements and difficult situations. So put down the headphones, get off email, and walk down the hall or pick up the phone for a real conversation.

We want to have fun, damn it!

We spend a lot of time together so we make it fun. We’re idealists but we also work too hard to not bubble-wrap a colleague’s desk once in a while.


We love what we do!

We are passionate and driven. We work for social justice with seriousness and a sense of urgency. We run to meetings. We are resilient even in times of stress, because our work is a sacred calling.

We hold ourselves accountable for results.

We take pride in personal accountability for the achievement of our students. We feel accountable to our children, and we feel accountable to each other. We are accountable as individuals and as a team. We do not believe in blame or excuses, just results and hard work.

We’re continually improving.

Everyone is entrusted to practice kaizen: to continually improve everything, every day. We are relentless about excellence and can’t stand mediocrity. We take initiative and share ideas. This is our school. We are empowered and dedicated to make it the best it can be every day.

If we ever become a bureaucracy, please shoot us.

Everyone here is an entrepreneur. We banish roadblocks and minimize bureaucratic nonsense. When a problem arises, we figure out a solution—and implement it quickly. We live for people with a work ethic who execute well and get the job done.


We’re continually learning.

We push ourselves to learn and grow all the time. We invest the time and effort to support our own and each other’s development.


is at the heart of our professional development philosophy: we plan together, observe and analyze each other’s lessons, and collaborate to refine teaching strategies and continuously improve student learning. We talk all the time about teaching. The intellectual energy is palpable!

Words that define us . . .

Passion. Hope. Love. Fun. Team. Humility. Leaders. Meritocracy. Idealism. Kindness. Activists.

Words that make us cringe . . .

Mediocrity. Bureaucracy. Gossip. Intolerance. Arrogance. Divisiveness. Blame. Complain. Apathy.