By Tess Goldblatt
Dr. Lee Vreeland says she is an extrovert and an open book. Social media makes it even easier for people to get to know her and about her. So it may surprise people to know that Vreeland enjoys “solitude a great deal. Although I am rarely by myself, I can’t recharge around others. I have to recharge by myself. If it were a perfect world, I’d get to do that weekly, but in the real world it’s about monthly. A perfect day for me is to be alone in my house with my best buddy, Ludo.” Although not necessarily at the top of a wish list, a weekly recharge in solitude would be on such a list.
Vreeland now serves as president and CEO of An Achievable Dream (AAD), founded by the late Walter S. Segaloff. Vreeland tells the story of how she went to work at AAD just out of college. She had planned to work there a couple of years and then go to graduate school full-time. Segaloff told her that if she would stay on part time and go to school part time, he would assist with tuition. Although she originally planned to get a master’s degree in substance abuse counseling, she switched to school counseling.
After that, Vreeland became an Education Specialist (EDS) and further completed a doctorate in educational leadership, policy and planning. A self-described “Type-A,” Vreeland acknowledges that she did neither part time. “I did both full-time. While I believe that college and higher education are not meant for all, for me, it gave me a sense of accomplishment that compares with none. I learned perseverance and work ethic. Not so much in the classroom, but from Walter. I learned how to problem-solve and think outside the box. I really credit Walter for teaching me how to think like that… and he could think waaaaaay outside that box!”
It becomes abundantly clear that if it were a perfect world, all AAD student “Dreamers” would get to feel that same sense of accomplishment in whatever undertakings they choose. Vreeland works very hard to make it so. AAD will be presenting its graduating seniors at the 27th “Tennis Ball” in November. (See sidebar and the AAD website for more information). A thousand people will come together to celebrate and financially support the many facets of achievement at AAD.
In Vreeland’s perfect world, there would be no social injustice. “Our Dreamers and other children would not worry about where their meals will come from over winter break.” Until that distant world can materialize, AAD sends kids home with 110 FoodBank backpacks a week and also sends home holiday meals.
Laughter rings out often and naturally in Vreeland’s perfect world, but in her real world she intentionally generates reasons to laugh, using wit and good humor. “I love to laugh, and it’s important to me to hear laughter in the office and in our schools. By the nature of what we do here, laughter is the best choice… because the alternative would be to cry,” Vreeland says.
What is on the lighter side of a perfect world? “Deadlines would not be missed and people wouldn’t throw cigarette butts out the window. That makes me nuts!”
Vreeland describes herself as a “happy, unrestrained, free-thinking Type-A tornado.”
It is no accident that the colors in her blouse and Ludo’s bandana coordinate perfectly with Ludo’s fur. Vreeland notes, “I’m fastidious that way!”
TO THE POINT:
An Achievable Dream, Inc.
Address: 10858 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601
Contact: Lee Vreeland, Ed.D., president and CEO
Business: Public/private education programs