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@Work: Valor Leadership Academy

April 28, 2005 – There was a time when Glen Pole sang his heart out in the Virgin Islands, performing in talent shows at St. Croix's Crucian Moon and in McClevety's Nightclub. If you talked to his friends back then, they would have told you his legacy was touching people with his golden voice.
But that was more than 30 years ago, and Glen has spent the interim engaged in other pursuits.
After obtaining two advanced degrees he worked as a Wall Street investment banker, managing the portfolios of companies like IBM and Verizon. Eventually Glen settled in Princeton, N.J, with his wife, Phyllis, a Ph.D. and clinical counselor, and their two children.
By all measures, Glen and Phyllis had lived successful lives. They worked hard in their professions and achieved prosperity; they worked harder at home, weaving together the bonds of a loving and close family. But when Glen retired last year, it was time to begin a new phase of life and he knew exactly what he wanted to do.
"We have led successful lives, now we want to live lives of significance," Glen says of himself and his Phyllis.
Together with his wife and sister, teacher Ingrid Hutchinson, Glen has founded Valor Leadership Academy, set to open for its first five-week summer session on June 27.
According to Glen, the Academy will cater to young men between 10 and 15, providing the leadership, academic and life skills necessary to lead purposeful and successful lives.
Hutchinson said the VLA approach will be to "integrate the core academic areas of math, reading, writing, and technology into meaningful modules of everyday life concepts.
"This will be the bridge over which they will cross to become effective citizens and leaders," she added.
But more than just an academic camp, Phyllis says the Valor Leadership Academy will take a "holistic approach based on temperament theory."
The approach, according to the founders, is to focus on and develop the most dominant gift in a child's life. When such a development occurs, they say, the child's natural passion begins to mature and blossom into good decision-making skills.
"The unique approach we will undertake at VLA is working with these youth so that they can gain a better understanding of their individual temperament," Phyllis said. "A Temperament Analysis Profile will provide each youth participant with in-depth information about his strengths and weaknesses," she continued. "As they then gain a better knowledge of who they are by understanding their individual temperament, they will be better equipped to make sound decisions in all areas of their lives and careers."
The Poles and Hutchinson say the academy will offer unconditional commitment to success.
"We dream with the boys. We say, 'What do you want to be? That's great, let me help you get there,'" Glen said. "If you take a ten-year-old boy and work with him for five years, you change his whole life."
Glen knows this not in an academic way, but through his experience with his own father. "Where I go today, I get favor because my father has gone before me and affected other people's lives in such a positive way that his children and grandchildren are still benefiting."
Glen credits his father, Arnold Pole, with providing the inspiration that drove him to excel throughout his career, and which drives him still. "My father's example of love and respect has provided the model we're trying to emulate at the Academy."
The Academy will start with about 30 boys this summer, a number Glen plans to build on over the years. Family counseling sessions, workshops, mentoring and other special projects are scheduled year-round to maintain on-going contact between program participants and staff.
Glen said participants will be selected from both public and private schools. "We want a nice blend of what's represented at the schools," he said. "I don't want this to be an elite school. There are kids who are not reaching potential."
The Academy will be staffed by teachers from St. Thomas public and private schools, and Glen said there will also be a contingent of University of the Virgin Islands student interns. Sessions will be held at a St. Thomas public school facility.
Glen and Phyllis have been back on the island for a few months but are reluctant to call their return a homecoming. "This is our home. I don't view it as a homecoming because we've been back every year," Glen explained. "We've never lost touch."
Glen went on to explain his love for St. Thomas is the reason he chose to found the Academy here instead of in another community. "We have a strong passion for helping where our blood is," he said. "I feel a strong sense of family."
It appears the young singer's journey has brought him full-circle to serve in the community that once released him to seek his fortune. Glen's legacy, perhaps, will not now be his own voice, but the voices of others brought to strength and maturity through the Academy.
There will be a fee for attending the Academy, but Glen says he's working to raise additional funds and hopes to be able to provide tuition assistance. This wishing to learn more may call the Valor Leadership Academy at 340-776-6358.

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