Meet the Founder

Hello! I’m Joanna, founder of Sedona Village Learning Center.

Hi – I am the founder of the Sedona Village Learning Center. I am Joanna Horton McPherson, an educator and writer originally from Maine. I came to Sedona in 2014 to serve as the dean at Verde Valley School, an international boarding school, where I currently serve on the board. I met my husband here and feel Sedona is very much my home.

I founded this school because when the Big Park school closed last year, I was haunted by this question: without a school, who will live here in 5, 10, 20 years? And then… if you don’t do something about it, who will?

My background has been in arts education for most of my life. I was an actor for years, working in youth development through the arts since I was a youth myself. Since 2000, I have worked to create groups through theatre and education for social justice. I taught youth and adults all over the country, and founded two non-profit organizations and ran a private acting studio. My work has included working with resettled refugee youth to tell their stories in original plays for public performance. One program brought me to Rwanda to develop a play exploring girls leadership and gender equality. The second non-profit founded in 2016 in Costa Rica educates young people through environmental programs in reforestation and organic gardening.

I founded this school because I am passionate about providing a place for young people to learn. I am devoted, like our school director, to a lifelong path of learning. I attended Vassar College for my Bachelor’s, and received my Master’s in Education from Harvard University. I aim to serve this community the best I can. One day, I’d like to expand to a full school to support this community & our growth. Without education and a place to learn, our community cannot thrive, and we do not attract people to our area. To me, education supports not only children, but their families and the parents whose diverse skills and perspectives enrich our community and makes us stronger.

I’d love to be in touch – don’t hesitate to get involved. It takes a village.

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