Leadership & Board

Troy Thelen, Head of School

Troy Thelen is a proud alumnus of Valley Christian Schools (’03). He spent more than a decade in the private sector, leading and managing teams across local organizations and Fortune 500 companies before beginning to serve at the school in 2013 as the Director of Development. Mr. Thelen holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (English, Communication) degree from ASU. He began serving as the school’s Assistant Head of School in 2020 before stepping in as Head of School in 2024.

Mr. Thelen has led the school’s overall Development and Advancement efforts for more than a decade. Under his leadership, the school has established significant long-term sustainability strategies and expanded in scope and size to meet the increasing demands for a Valley Christian education. While we are grateful that many Christian schools have experienced growth in Arizona and across the country, we are especially grateful that VCS has become the 3rd largest Christian school and 6th largest private school in Arizona.

Although he was primarily tasked with overseeing the school’s advancement efforts, Mr. Thelen is most passionate about organizational leadership, strategic alignment, and continuous improvement in all areas. He has played a key role in designing the school’s organizational chart, developing sustainable systems and processes, and identifying opportunities for data-driven decision making and strategy across the organization.

Mr. Thelen is married to a fellow alumna (Kimberly, 2005), and together they have three amazing children: Levi (Class of 2032), Hayley (Class of 2033), and Tessa (Class of 2037). Troy and Kimberly are active members at Redeemer Bible Church, where Troy serves on the worship team. Mr. Thelen is also a graduate of the Leadership Institute through the Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s Community Foundation, and thoroughly enjoys spending time playing basketball, supporting all of the local sports teams, playing music, and building meaningful relationships in the community.

A Message to the VCS Community

August 22, 2023

I am beyond grateful and humbled to serve in this new role of Head of School. And that’s what I will do and what all of our staff will do: serve. The school’s mission is to equip students to be culture changers for Christ, and there’s no better way to change culture than to put Christ and others ahead of ourselves… to serve. Not only is Valley Christian my alma mater, my wife’s alma mater, my kids’ school, and my employer, but VCS is my family. There is no story of my life I can tell you that doesn’t feature, prominently, Valley Christian Schools. And I’m grateful that this story continues.

I am indebted to Dan Kuiper for his faithful leadership at VCS. I have learned more from Dan than any other leader under which I’ve served at any organization. His humility, kindness, patience, and steadfastness have been guiding lights for our school. I wholeheartedly believe that good leadership trickles down, and Dan’s great qualities have trickled down to the VCS staff. I do not take lightly the responsibility of carrying on the incredible traditions and culture that Dan helped to instill at VCS. In my view, our school must always remember and honor our past while remaining laser focused on our future, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to lead this charge.

I would also like to thank our Board of Directors. They serve as volunteers – often thanklessly – and spend countless hours giving of their time, talent, and treasure to move Valley Christian forward. I’m grateful for their significant investment in discussing the school’s next Head of School and for their time and energy in evaluating me for this role. Across numerous interviews with parents, students, and more, I was grateful to discuss not only my desire for excellence in our school, but also my faith and my family. As we seek to equip students to be culture changers for Christ, our Board understands that changing culture starts there.

Lastly, I’m so grateful to our current faculty and staff. Not only did my wife and I benefit from a Valley Christian education, but now my own children are benefitting from a truly caring, loving, and godly staff. I will work tirelessly alongside our current and future staff to ensure that we are serving our mission of equipping culture changers for Christ. We must be driven and relentless in pursuit of excellence. We must be accountable to each other. We must identify where VCS is good and must become great. We must solicit feedback with a growth mindset. We must be lifelong learners who are willing to have critical conversations. And we must lead and lead well, all for the cause of Christ.

During this year-long handoff, one of my initial priorities is to embark on a “Listening Tour.” I want to hear from faculty, staff, alumni, parents, students, and our community. I have – and we, as a school, have – much to learn from each group, and I’m truly ecstatic to get started. If you’re reading this, don’t be surprised if I reach out to you soon. I’m ready and excited to listen; thank you in advance for your perspective.

To the Valley Christian community: let us steward well this great ministry that God has entrusted to all of us. And let us equip students to be culture changers for Christ, together.

For His glory,
Troy A. Thelen

A Personal Message from the HOS

August 22, 2023

For those closest to me and for those who don’t yet know me, I would like to be clear about the priorities in my life.

First and foremost is Christ. Truly, nothing else matters without Christ. In fact, an early mentor helped me to understand that the Christian walk is not #1 in a long list of priorities; instead, Christ is the ONLY thing, and everything else must filter through that truth. In Philippians 3, Paul states, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” In John 3, when John the Baptist’s followers ask him what to do after Jesus arrives, he says, simply, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I echo these sentiments, not as platitudes, but as true representations of what’s important to me… Christ. When I attended Valley Christian, we sang this song in the choir, which is as true now as it was then: “Were it not for grace, I can tell you where I’d be: wandering down some pointless road to nowhere with my salvation up to me. I know how that would go, the battles I would face, forever running but losing the race… were it not for grace.” It is by grace I have been saved, through faith – not by anything that I’ve done. I’m incredibly grateful for my church – Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert. If you are looking for a church home, or if you want to develop a thirst for God’s Word, RBC is a great place to get to know, love, and serve Jesus. And if you don’t already know Him… come and see what the Lord has done.

After Christ, my first ministry is to Kim and then to my kids. I do not take lightly what God has commanded in I Timothy 3 as the “qualifications for overseers”: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” I am a sinner, saved by grace, seeking to honor God in these things. Kim is an incredible woman, who loves the Lord and loves our children (thankfully, she loves me, too). I’m grateful that God has graciously allowed us to be like-minded, as we each grow and encourage each other in our faith. Kim is a true gift from the Lord. Our three children are, as well. Raising them to know Jesus is one of the greatest responsibilities we’ve been given, and one we each cherish.

After Christ, Kim, and my kids… I care deeply about the work that I do at Valley Christian Schools. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly. Kim and I have now made a significant commitment to pour into VCS and to strive for excellence while doing so. I’m a firm believer in the school’s mission of equipping students to be culture changers for Christ. Culture is broken and must be changed for the cause of Christ. As I transition into this new role, I’m first grateful for the work accomplished by those who have gone before, most notably Dan Kuiper. I shared some kind words about Dan in our recent announcement and would reiterate each of them: I’m grateful for his faithfulness, humility, kindness, patience, and steadfastness. May God be glorified in the final year of Dan’s work, and may He be glorified at VCS in the years to come. In all that we do at VCS, we will work to honor Christ, pursue excellence, build community, and change culture. And we will do so humbly as servant leaders who measure everything, make data-driven decisions, and possess a growth mindset.

I believe we can measure what is important to us by examining the last 100 conversations we’ve had. I’ve been blessed to be able to have many of those conversations with some incredibly insightful, encouraging, and Christ-like people. Certainly, I’m a product of those who have poured into me over the course of my lifetime. And at any given time, my hope is that my previous 100 conversations are representative of my priorities: Christ, Kim, and my kids… and then the work being done at VCS. To God be the glory in this thing and all things, for He is good.

Executive Leadership Team

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson

K-8 Principal

Kittren Johnson

Kittren Johnson

Executive Director of Advancement

Timothy Livengood

Timothy Livengood

Executive Director of Business Operations

Robin Rugg

Robin Rugg

HS Principal

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors at Valley Christian Schools establishes the School’s mission, hires the Head of School, holds the HOS accountable for full classrooms, plans exercising foresight through strategic planning and strategic financial management, and provides the resources (people, money and facilities) needed for that plan to succeed. The Board is comprised of Christian leaders and believers who are committed to Christian school education.

The Valley Christian Board of Directors governs with an emphasis on biblically-based integrity and truthfulness in all methods and practices, strategic leadership, clear distinction of board and Head of School roles and responsibilities, collective rather than individual decisions, future rather than past, and proactivity rather than reactivity. To do its job effectively, the Board of Directors utilizes policy governance and follows an annual agenda that includes, but is not limited to, monthly meetings, monitoring the Head of School’s job performance, and a systematic review of bylaws and board policies.

The Head of School is the board’s primary link to operational achievement and conduct so that day-to-day operational authority and accountability of staff, as far as the Board is concerned, is delegated to the Head of School.

2024-25 Officers

Scott Crouch
Chairman of the Board

Michael Gauthier
Vice Chairman

Mike DenBleyker
Treasurer

Melanie Dykstra
Secretary

Members

Kyle Aulerich

Steve Brown

Ken Fechner

Ally LaGatta

Denise McClain

Joy Pickett

Richard Suzuki

Jeremy Walls

Interested in Joining the Board?

If you have an interest in serving on the Board at Valley Christian Schools, please note the following:

    • School Board members are Christian leaders and believers who are committed to Christian school education.
    • The Board maintains a size of not fewer than five (5) and not more than twelve (12) elected members; although the terms are generally staggered, there is no guarantee that a Board position will open every year.
    • When there are spots available, new Board members are elected each year in May.
    • The Board nominates and selects its own members.
    • Board members are elected to an initial three-year term and may be re-elected to a second three-year term.
    • Prospective Board members must complete an application, agree with the expectations of VCS Board members, and interview with the Board’s nominating committee.
    • To receive more information on the process and expectations, please contact [email protected].