The Intentional Pursuit Podcast

  • The Intentional Pursuit logo

    In Vestavia Hills City Schools, one of the key beliefs of our district is that succeeding is an intentional pursuit. For more than fifty years, this belief has challenged our faculty, staff, and community as we work to provide Learning Without Limits for every student. Our podcast, The Intentional Pursuit, features conversations with Vestavia Hills City Schools leaders who are working in an intentional pursuit of excellence.

    Listen to all episodes on Spotify, Google Podcasts, or

Latest Episodes

  • November 2021 -- In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with new Vestavia Hills City Schools Director of Athletics, Myra Miles. She brings more than 30 years of athletics experience to VHCS and is working on several new initiatives as part of the school system's athletics strategic plan. Learn more about VHCS athletics by visiting!


    October 2021 -- Goal 2 of Vestavia Hills City Schools’ strategic plan pushes the school system to “embrace our leadership role in developing common understandings and shared community support for confronting the problems and challenges that impact the system, youth, and families.” Much of this goal is focused on work related to development of core values and character education in schools. In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with Dr. Antonio Cooper, VHCS Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Blair Inabinet, principal of Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park, about how core values are making a real-world impact on student learning and development.


    September 2021 -- In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with Martha Martin, STEM teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park, about fun ways they're teaching science, technology, engineering and math to students in grades K through 5.


    August 2021 -- In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with Dr. Todd Freeman, superintendent of Vestavia Hills City Schools. Dr. Freeman reviews the highlights of the school system's strategic goals and Annual Report while also looking ahead to the 2021-22 school year. View the VHCS Annual Report on our website.


    (May 2021) In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with Rachel Stockard, math specialist at the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). Rachel provides details on the state's newly adopted Math Course of Study and how it will impact classroom instruction on math next year.


    (April 2021) If you're a parent of a child preparing to enter kindergarten, this episode is for you! Brooke and Whit interview Shae Harrell, 22-year veteran of kindergarten classrooms and current kindergarten teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary East, on strategies for parents to help lay the foundation for their child's academic and social growth as they enter grade school. Parents can also find the Vestavia Hills City Schools Kindergarten Readiness Guide on our website at



    (March 2021) Our second episode this month features VHCS Secondary Teacher of the Year, Jerell Horton. Jerell is Director of Bands at Vestavia Hills High School. In this episode, Jerell discusses how he makes his classroom a welcoming and nurturing environment for all students and how band prepares students for success in life.



    (March 2021) This month we will have two episodes highlighting the Vestavia Hills City Schools Teachers of the Year! In this episode, Brooke and Whit talk with Heather Hurt, VHCS Elementary Teacher of the Year. Heather is a fifth grade teacher at Vestavia Hills Elementary East. Heather discusses how she felt led to change careers from a successful real estate agent to elementary teacher, and how she works to instill a spirit of adventure in her soon-to-be middle schoolers.



    (February 2021) In today's episode, Brooke and Whit discuss the Alabama Literacy Act with Erika Ponder, reading coach at Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights. Strategies for parents to help their children with reading and literacy skills are included in this episode.

    To learn more about the Alabama Literacy Act and download a parent guide, visit



    (January 2021) In this episode, Brooke and Whit explain the meaning behind the name "The Intentional Pursuit" and discuss social-emotional support for students with VHCS Director of Student Services, Jennifer Bailey, and VHCS Student Assistance Counselor, Anna Gaston.

    Pandemic Parenting Tips

    • Encourage Routine and Structure
    • Validate Emotions
    • Model How to Manage Feelings
    • Communicate Honestly
    • Model Self-Care
    • Build Community

    Encourage Routine and Structure

    • Parents can find and establish their “new normal” and stick to it.
    • Families can identify a daily schedule that includes school, work, play, and self-care.
    • A daily schedule helps reduce anxiety and creates a sense of safety and consistency.

    Validate Emotions

    • Validation lets your child know that you are listening and trying to understand their feelings and point of view.  It is allowing your child to express their thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, or ridiculing them. 
    • When a child expresses a feeling such as fear or anger, validate their concern and help them work through that feeling. Explore ways they can cope with the feeling.
    • Helpful validating statements: “It sounds as though you are feeling ….” ; “What I hear you saying is..”; 

    “Is there any part that I’m missing or not understanding well enough?”

    Model Coping Skills and How to Manage Feelings

    • Engage children in activities like mindfulness, exercise, and yoga to show them how to self-regulate and, in addition, to provide family “chill” time.
    • Allow children to see ways older siblings and parents cope with stress in healthy ways
    • Talk with children about things they enjoy that will help them reduce stress.

    Communicate Honestly

    • Correct inaccurate information and reinforce basics.
    • Encourage questions and curiosity, and provide direct, honest answers.

    Model Self-Care

    • Self-care is not a luxury. Poor mental health management in parents increases child stress and reduces resiliency.
    • Encourage breaks, individually or as a family.
    • Get regular exercise and sleep, and eat a healthy diet that includes nutritious fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
    • Give yourself opportunity for connection with someone who can listen to you, a trusted friend, family member, or a counselor or therapist. 

    Build Community

    • Distance physically but not socially
    • Encourage constructive and beneficial virtual interactions.
      • Children can help less computer-savvy family and friends set up and participate in virtual hangouts. 
      • Encourage a media plan that keeps in mind how much screen time students are already spending for academics but also acknowledges the need for social interaction.
    • Accept and ask for help from friends, family, schools, and community resources.