A Homecoming by Happenstance

December 5, 2018

Kimberli Collett has devoted her entire career to helping children. For 18 years, she worked at Grafton, Virginia’s largest residential treatment facility. She then served Mathew’s Center in Manassas for seven years, first as Director of Education, then as Executive Director. That the Shenandoah Valley native is now Principal at UMFS Charterhouse School in Edinburg seems a logical next step.

Kimberli wasn’t searching for a new job, but when she learned of the Charterhouse School vacancy last summer, she just knew she had to apply. Call it a homecoming by happenstance. “Growing up here, I know the value of having a school like Charterhouse School in the Valley,” she said from the historic Charterhouse School building on Edinburg’s quaint Piccadilly Street. “The opportunity to come back home and work really drew me in.”

Kimberli has degrees in organizational leadership, special education, and educational leadership. She’s very aware of the needs of the population served by UMFS, and her education and training having prepared her quite well to champion for the children and teens at Charterhouse School in Edinburg.

“What’s innovative to me about UMFS and Charterhouse School is the overall approach,” Kimberli said. “And how we’re working as a team to help the whole child, and not just one aspect. We provide a wide range of services with the goal of getting students back to public school.”

And just as Kimberli began discussing the importance of focusing on students’ behavioral and emotional needs, there was a knock on her office door. A Student Support Coach poked her head in and apologized for interrupting. “They’d like to talk to you,” the Support Coach said, referring to a student who had been growing increasingly agitated since being dropped off at school that morning. It was now nearing lunchtime, and the student was pacing the halls.

Kimberli met with the student and was able to quickly ease the tension. She then invited the student to take a walk with her downstairs to the school’s new library, a school-wide collaborative project that was featured on WHSV TV3 in Harrisonburg. She’d successfully redirected the student’s attention to the newly built library shelves and extensive collection of books that had been generously donated by the community. “I really like the Guinness Book of World Records,” the student said.

For an outsider looking in, a moment such as this is remarkable to witness; the seemingly effortless de-escalation of a student who’s in distress. But for Kimberli, it’s just another day at the office, and calm and caring support is what epitomizes the well-trained staff at UMFS and Charterhouse School.

“She understands the population we serve and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to UMFS,” said Wade Puryear, UMFS Vice President of Education. “She’s really good with our students,” continued Wade. “And we’re really fortunate and excited to have Kimberli on our team.”