Ben Russell

Ben & Ali Russel and Family

Ben is originally from Benton, Pennsylvania and graduated from Northern Arizona University. He and wife (Ali) and family (Ryan, Silas, Micah, Josie and Molly) have been at Verde since 2001. When asked what his family is like, Ben says, “Maybe a quick story will describe us better than I could. Our family recently had the opportunity to accompany my wife to a nursing conference in Los Angeles. We pulled up to a rather luxurious hotel, dotted with vehicles I have only seen in pictures, in our dented green mini-van after a long hot drive. As the valet came to take my keys, he shared that the bellmen would take our luggage up. Since Walmart bags, boogie boards, strollers, and school backpacks aren’t typically mentioned in the luggage arena, I let him know that we would need significantly more time than average to empty the contents of our vehicle onto their pristine pavement. He wasn’t sure what to do. After a few brief conversations with other staff members he came back and pointed to an empty space for us to use as a staging area. Fifteen minutes later we finished straining the limits of the luggage cart and the seven of us began the arduous task of moving our herd towards the 23rd floor. In the end we had a splendid adventure. We saw the Library, the Science Center and even the beach. I must admit however, that I have a new appreciation for lodging that promises nothing more than simply leaving a light on for you.”

What is your favorite book? Two books that have really impacted me in the last few years are “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster and “Fasting” by Jentezen Franklin.

What or who is your most influential book or author? I love C.S. Lewis.

What is your favorite food? Steak with mushroom sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

What is something most people don’t know about you? I grew up on a small farm in PA and I’m a fan of snakes. I caught and released eight rattlesnakes from our previous home in Clarkdale (or I caught one rattlesnake eight times from our home in Clarkdale…). The most interesting story was when our kiddos were younger and Ali walked out the front door to smack a rug against the fence. As she looked over she found a rattler sunning himself next to her on the column. They were both surprised and unhappy after the interaction and she ran shrieking around to the back of the house. The kids were wondering what could cause such a fun reaction from mom (since they had never been able to achieve that specific tone in her voice) and began filing out the open front door to see what all the fuss was about. She quickly ran in the back door to find them all looking around out the front door and yelled for them to get back inside. Seconds later I received an emergency call at school and came home on my white horse to save the day (at least this is my recollection of the events).

What is the most exciting thing for you to see God do in the lives of people? The Verde Valley Christian School has given me an opportunity to have an up-close view of how the Lord captures the hearts and minds of our children. I love watching the excitement of a student who understands what it is to accept Jesus as his/her savior and has made that decision. Kids are so open and honest with their cares and concerns. Their faith and belief is so strong. When God becomes real, they come to him with an excited expectation that he will do great things in their lives, and in the lives of their families. Jesus’ call to come and receive the kingdom like a little child takes on such meaning for me as I get to watch how our students enter in to their relationship with him.