Visible School - Music and Worship Arts College
September 27, 2010
I heard about Visible School through a friend who taught me how to play guitar. Visible School had been in the back of my mind since then (I think that was 9th grade), but my parents insisted that I attend a traditional 4 year school; Visible School only offered a 9-month certificate at the time. Thankfully, our paths crossed later on when I discovered that the college I had been attending had an arrangement with Visible School, where their certificate program could satisfy my degree's minor studies requirement.
In the months leading up to my first day at Visible School, I kept meeting Visible School students and staff members throughout the city. They all had a sincere and fun-loving spirit about them. I had considered other post-high school ministry training programs, but none of them exuded this sort of welcoming and hospitable spirit. It is hard to explain. The closest instance of this I can recall was when a friend I met at the first college (who, ironically, had gone to Visible School the year before) was showing me around Visible School's Lakeland campus. A student, who was carrying around a bag of chips, offered me some of his snacks. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was the random kind-spirited interactions with Visible School people that stood out to me. The other ministry programs were nice, but I didn't sense the same sort of transformation in their people. I knew this was where I wanted to be.
My experience only got better once I became a student. Though I was only there to complete a certificate in music, I was drawn to their ministry and biblical studies courses and stayed two more years to complete a Bachelors of Ministry in Ministry Praxis (Visible School had completed the necessary requirements to offer a Bachelors degree in addition to their certificate while I was a student). I was a Biblical Studies major at my previous college--and I went back to complete that degree as well--but I found that the content, quality, and rigor of the instruction in Visible School's Ministry Praxis program was significantly better. In practical terms, I wholly attribute my success in graduate education to the time spent at Visible School.
Over the course of time spent at Visible School, one theme that has constantly emerged was improvement. Visible School continues to improve its programs, faculty, and facilities. Programs have been improved through increased academic support from the Director of Academic Development to the leadership in each department to the faculty's commitment to the college's mission. Faculty have been improved as the majority of them have pursued further education to better serve the college's mission. Facilities have improved dramatically from the humble beginnings in Lakeland, TN; to the temporary location in midtown Memphis; to the future home in the iconic triangle building in downtown Memphis.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
my own life as I interacted with staff and students and learned what it means to live life together as Christians. Also, the education I received propelled me far into graduate school. And I met my neato wife.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
give it lots of money. Seriously. The college has learned to operate with excellence on slim margins. The college knows exactly how and where to maximize every dollar if given the chance. Well-planned initiatives are waiting in the wings ready to fly.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
-the improvement culture. Every system and program undergoes scrutiny from people heavily invested in its success.
-the staff. A college is only as good as its people. Facilities and curricula with disinterested staff is dead in the water; students know.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
-amazing. Everyone is invested in the college's mission. No one gets involved with the college for financial gain. That seems to dramatically reduce the number of boneheads.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
-change the world and have enough left over to significantly fund other worthwhile causes. Things like dramatically reduced tuition, more credentialed faculty/staff with Visible School's DNA, & more involvement/investment in Memphis' well-being.
Ways to make it better...
-I can't think of anything that would have made it better. Perhaps better access to online databases like JSTOR, which would have prepared me for my doctorate. I sincerely think my experience was as good as it could be, warts and all.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
-money. Pretty self-explanatory, no?
-burn out. Being a small college where even (credentialed) administrators teach classes demonstrates how everyone shoulders multiple full-time responsibilities. Though invested, they're still just mortals.
One thing I'd also say is that...
I am thankful for Visible School. It has changed my life and I am privileged to have spent the past 6 years with the community. I am invested in its success and hope others will join in too.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Client Served & I was a student who fell in love with the college and pursued further education to participate in its future.