For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Marcia Spector, Executive Director - Seeds of Health, Inc.
Veritas High School Celebrates 20 Years of Education… By Giving Back to Feeding America
MILWAUKEE, WI (May 19, 2022) Veritas High School, a college preparatory school chartered by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and part of Seeds of Health, Inc., is pleased to celebrate its 20th anniversary this spring. Veritas High School officially opened its doors to students in 2001 and has been educating Milwaukee’s urban youth ever since. As part of their celebration, Seeds of Health partnered with Feeding America challenging staff, students, and families to help raise money for meals for Feeding America.
The History and Mission of Veritas High School
This spirit of giving back is nothing new at Veritas, for weaving in character-building lessons and real-life examples with a solid curriculum were part of the vision for Veritas from the very beginning. Executive Director Marcia Spector explains, “After studying Wisconsin’s charter school law and understanding the need for a public high school program that would focus on addressing the diverse educational, emotional, and social development of Milwaukee’s urban youth, Seeds of Health decided to pursue opening its first non-instrumentality charter school. We envisioned a high school program that not only would give students an exceptional college-prep education but would also expose them to the values that build exceptional character.”
The Cornerstone of a Veritas Education
As the idea for Veritas was simmering, a conversation between Spector and George Goens (one of education’s most prominent voices) helped shape the cornerstone of what Veritas would become. Spector explains, “One day, while contemplating the meaning of life, George and I found ourselves remembering a quote from Mortimer Adler - ‘The ultimate end of education is happiness or a good human life, a life enriched by the possession of every kind of good, by the enjoyment of every type of satisfaction.’ It was then that we envisioned a high school with a challenging curriculum that would be complemented by the examination of Adler’s six essential questions: What is truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality, and justice. With that in mind, Mortimer Adler’s six essential questions were used as the cornerstone for the creation of Veritas High School in 2001.”
Principal Stephanie Nook sees these questions being lived out each day in the students at Veritas. Nook, who started at Veritas in the fall of 2021, was drawn to the school because of the possibilities she can see in the students and staff. “This is a school that has historically demonstrated success with students and longevity with staff. I was excited at the prospect of joining Veritas and establishing culture with the staff and students here.” Nook is right about the longevity of staff - staff members tend to stay at SOH for many years. For example, Sherry Tolkan served as principal of Veritas for 18 years until her retirement and now serves as Director of Leadership and Program Development for all SOH schools.
Endless Possibilities at Veritas
Veritas is a rigorous community-based school that is continuing to evolve and expand while keeping its reputation for providing exceptional college-prep education. This is accomplished through the delivery of a challenging high school curriculum that includes honors courses and advanced placement courses in math, social studies, and foreign language. Veritas classes are designed to meet the needs of its students and community, such as classes like Spanish for Heritage Speakers and Spanish for Beginners. All work centers around the Veritas mission and central belief that strong relationships and character building are the keys to student success. The philosophy and the core values of Adler’s six essential questions serve as the foundation upon which relationships are initiated and maintained.
Nook has seen these core values in action. “I can honestly say the one constant here at Veritas is the community. This is a relationship-based school. Our students connect deeply with our teachers and one another. Care and support radiate through these halls and classrooms. It’s this palpable energy that keeps us going!”
Clubs, Sports, and Partnerships
Along with the rigorous curriculum, Veritas also offers after-school clubs and activities. In addition, Veritas further develops meaningful relationships and encourages character development through an outstanding mentor program in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee. After twenty years of hard work and commitment, relationships and character building are at the center of the Veritas mission and are inherent in a challenging curriculum that develops well-educated, well-rounded young adults.
Students Feel at Home at Veritas.
Perhaps the best measure of success of a school comes from the students themselves. Students said they chose Veritas for many reasons including: “the college prep classes,” “because the class sizes are small and students receive a lot of help from teachers,” and “Veritas is one of the top schools that’s recognized by many and will help students get into a good college.” Other students chose Veritas because it’s a family affair. Many students followed in the footsteps of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents to pursue a Veritas education. Finally, many reported that they appreciated the available college prep and AP courses, and the fact that counselors talk to students and their families starting in 9th grade for post-high school planning.
Veritas Graduates Attract Local and National Attention
The rigorous coursework and careful planning and guidance from teachers and counselors at Veritas greatly benefit students. Veritas graduates are recognized on the local and national level for their academic achievements with yearly scholarship offerings. As of this month, 2022 Veritas graduates have been offered over 8 million dollars in college scholarships.
Alumni Appreciate their Veritas Education
Veritas graduates are walking success stories, proving that the education and values taught at Veritas do pay off. Joselyne Lorelei Morales graduated from Veritas in 2014 and can’t say enough good things about her experience at Veritas. Morales says she owes her success to Veritas, “My college experience has been great! I am student teaching in an elementary school for a quarter of the semester. After that quarter, I’ll go to Veritas high school to student teach for the rest of my last semester, and then I will graduate. I aspire to be an art teacher and help students by introducing self-love inside art. Another of my aspirations is to be an artist and a teacher as well. What I mean is to be an artist that will exhibit the artwork or sell as an independent artist. I wouldn't have gotten this far without Veritas's help. The teachers helped me to be successful in my studies and to be able to graduate to go to the path of the university. Veritas also helped me get into UWM with no stress in feeling not accepted in the UWM application. I am grateful for all the help Veritas gave me to go this far in my career path.”
Morales now has the opportunity to give back and influence future Veritas graduates - she’s been hired as the new art teacher to replace veteran teacher Vicki Cottrell. Cottrell is one of the original art teachers and will be retiring after 20 years.
Another alumnus, Xiong Her, recently moved to LA for his first year of Ph.D. study in Higher Education and Organizational Changes at UCLA. Her says, “Veritas has helped and prepared me for higher education. All the teachers were highly motivated and supportive of students’ learnings and dreams. Teachers always encouraged students to step outside of their comfort zone and challenged them to define themselves and their learnings. Veritas’ values and support guided my studies and helped me to become the scholar I am today. Thanks to all the wonderful teachers and staff of Veritas HS.”
Veritas Celebrates By Giving Back
In true Veritas fashion, the school is choosing to celebrate its anniversary in the spirit of giving back - to Feeding America. Veritas will wind down the school year with a get-together for Veritas staff, students, families, and alumni on June 18 at Veritas. In keeping with the mission of “giving back,” a “hot dog with chips picnic lunch” can be purchased for $1.00 with all proceeds going to Feeding America of Wisconsin. Each $1.00 donation will provide 4 meals for Milwaukee families in need. In addition, online donations to Feeding America in honor of Veritas’ 20th Anniversary are appreciated. Information for donating can be found on the Veritas High School Website.
Seeds of Health will take a moment to have an official anniversary celebration in the fall when it hosts an Open House for families, students, alumni, and staff. All will be able to gather together and celebrate the past and future success stories that come from a Veritas education.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in four high schools and a K4-8 elementary program. In addition, Seeds of Health, Inc. has the WIC - Women, Infants, and Children Program. The five individual and unique education programs serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to college-bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “homegrown” answer to imaginative, collaborative, and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.