Recognizing a void in educational opportunities in the South, in 1906, Dr. Robert Carter Jett formulated a plan that called for immediate action by the Episcopal Church of Southern Virginia to establish a way for deserving youth from all walks of life to achieve a superior secondary education.
The 41-year-old pastor and father of two young daughters followed his passion, zealously inspiring and implementing positive change in education and propelling VES to the forefront of a movement that would extend the advantages of a well-rounded education to a much greater number of boys and, eventually, girls.
Dr. Jett and Lynchburg rector and VES co-founder Joseph B. Dunn proposed Lynchburg, Virginia, as an ideal location for this ambitious project. In the first in a long history of philanthropic partnerships, Virginia-Carolina Railway founder Wilton E. Mingea of Abington, Virginia, who originally declared the idea “a delusive dream,” generously put up $5,000 to buy the property, establish a building fund and pay the headmaster’s salary.
The Roots of Our Mission: Toward Full Stature
Mingea proposed the name Virginia Episcopal School, proclaiming that “if Virginia was part of the name, the school would have a history from the day of its opening.”
Dr. Jett, who was named the school’s first headmaster, saw a future in which VES would develop and send into the world capable, ethical and productive members of society. Together, Jett, Dunn and Mingea coined a motto to explain the school's mission. “The Full Stature of Manhood” conveyed their conviction that a quality education meant “training with character as its end."