I learned about the passing last week of Alice Condee Stelle and of Joanne “Jody” White five months earlier.
On the backs of these two dedicated and determined women was built the Las Virgenes Unified School District.
Their loss is irreplaceable.
I was one of the few fortunate people who served with them on the LVUSD Board of Education. Elected in 1975 at the age of 20, my time with them was limited to my four-year term.
They had been elected in the late 1950s and remained in office until 1981 (Jody) and 1990 (Alice).
They oversaw the growth of our school district from one elementary campus—Las Virgenes Elementary School, now A. E. Wright Middle School—to more than a dozen at the end of their tenures.
I grew up in Las Virgenes schools and was one of the thousands of beneficiaries of their hard work and clear vision. By the time I came on board we had 12 schools under our watch. Alice and Jody cared for each of them as parents would nurture 12 children.
They invested not only their countless thousands of uncounted hours in building the schools brick by brick, but also their hearts and souls.
No other two people have made such a great and lasting impact on Las Virgenes families as Alice and Jody.
Very few of us “oldtimers” are left to relay the early stories about the LVUSD to newcomers.
Without Alice and Jody’s guts to sustain the drive for unification in 1962, there is no doubt that the Las Virgenes area would have been annexed to the Los Angeles Unified School District 50 years ago. Their foresight and hard work presaged a loftier future for Las Virgenes students.
I am a better man today because of them. My later parenting skills were built on the foundation that they helped develop. My decision-making process was buoyed by the constant dissection of information presented by staff for board debate and action.
And my ability to focus attention on causes and effects rather than on personalities was honed by their examples.
Thank you, Alice. Thank you, Jody.