Southern Utah News Articles
Abundant Life Academy has employee shake-up
Abundant Life Academy has had its ups and downs in six years of operation here. The Christian home for teens (who have had issues, either with behavioral problems in their homes, or minor infractions with the law), have been placed into ALA by their guardians, at a substantial cost, to refocus on spiritual values and education.
The relationship between the school and community has been interesting. There have been many events, projects and challenges that the teens have responded to with community service. There have also been some behavioral issues acted out, causing local law enforcement headaches.
Owner Craig Rogers, in a phone interview, said of ALA, “we don’t have any money.” He cited the economy as being a factor, and him not being at the helm due to surgery. Rogers said his blog on the academy’s website was improper and inappropriate. He said he wrote it out of anger.
He said there are two companies involved – Abundant Life Academy and Virtual High School – of which he co-owns with Rod Quarnberg.
“Our attempt was to heal the divide,” said Rogers, of the shake-up and subsequent offer to key staff a percentage of ownership in Abundant Life Academy, if they gave up two months of pay.”
Rogers told ‘the team’ through an e-mail written on November 17 through Wendy Riddle-Henderson, ALA Director of Operations, that if they decided to invest in this course; they would have two options;
One – work for two months (four pay periods) for free, thus investing the amount of your salary for two months into part ownership of the company.
Two – you bring in the amount of cash that four paychecks would provide you (before taxes) and invest it into the company.
Several employees (some former) provided the e-mail Rogers sent to the team and other employees.
The following is Craig Roger’s blog on the ALA website after the incident:
Dear Parents, Staff, and friends of ALA,
In the last few days I can’t remember ever being in a battle like the one I am in now. I have been fasting and praying for days upon days. I really don’t even know how many days it’s been. But, I am very weak in the flesh and the emotions, but strong in the Spirit. Faith is abounding ... unstoppable ... jacked up and on overdrive. I guess I live for these types of “recovery missions.” My vision and mission are strong and deep. I am determined and I know what needs to be done and how to restore everything. I am very sorrowful for allowing things to flounder and come to this point. It is all my fault. But I want to say that God honored Himself anyway, and it’s really amazing all that He has still done despite our failures.
I didn’t have a clue that any battle could be this brutal. No words can describe the spiritual fight that we all have gone through over the last year, but there has been nothing in my life like the last few days ... it’s been like a living nightmare, not in the physical world, but in the spiritual battle. I have endured torment and doubt like never before. Relentless badgering, constant reminders of my lack, and the ridicule of the mockers just won’t stop. I thought I had seen some rough moments in life before, but the last few days has been something I couldn’t have imagined ... like the perfect storm. The depth of ugliness and despair suffocated me (physically). Last night, through prayers and reading the Word, I got through it. I even had some small victories. I saw some good things, and remembered even better things. But I don’t know if I could do it again, ever! I am praying that I am through the worst of it. God has prepped me, equipped me, given back the vision and restored hope.
What will be restored ... our focus back on Jesus, “Jesus is the only answer!” We will be phenomenal communicators once again. Our commitment to academic excellence. We will take the educational program to the very top. Lastly, we will restore the leadership and creative drive that has always been an earmark of ALA.
A while back, after I had returned to ALA fulltime, I knew what had to be done. But really didn’t have the guts to do it ... I had to carve out the people who were opposing the Spirit of God. But where to start? And, did I have what it takes to do it the right way? I knew that it was time to separate the sheep from the goats, but these goats had become my friends.
ALA had become “Mormonized,” which is another word for deceived, which is another word for hypocrite, which is another word for oppressed liar. I ended up loving these people, and we shared many things that led us to “know” God. But the truth is that they were never going to leave the Mormon faith, and even though they may know better, they are “lifers.” Therefore, it was time for them to go. There was a faction, division, and discord at ALA and there was only one way that it was going away ... we had allowed a faction of people to stifle the Spirit of God. It was my fault. I can love the Mormon, but I don’t have to let him/her to be in the core of the leadership team at ALA. Mormons are children of God, and they just haven’t figured it out yet. They live in a culture of performance, cover up, and denial. The Mormons of ALA (just a few) became a part of our ALA family. They took too much liberty and I have to take it back. The Mormon “oppression” was able to infiltrate ALA, subtly, over the last year. I am so sorry. But God set up a scenario that allowed the pretender (the goats) to leave with dignity and honor.
Not all of them are actual goats ... some that have left ALA lately are lukewarm believers. Wishy-washy. What I did was to follow God’s lead and set up a system where only the true people would stay at ALA. The people of faith and of the Spirit would stay, and those that are pretenders would depart, on their own without a lot of pain. What we set up was an opportunity for anyone at ALA to “follow Jesus ... declaring that he was the only answer!” Those that didn’t, were off and running in another direction, but away from us and the ALA kids. Although it was not easy, and I feel as though I lost some very good friends, the truth is that God has declared, and let no man oppose.
The disciples Jesus called left everything, literally ... they sacrificed everything. They were told that they would be fishers of men. They were not told that they would lose everything. They were not told what they had to sacrifice, not until much later. But they knew that they had to leave everything, give up everything, and sacrifice everything and follow Jesus. I am sure they had somewhat of an uderstanding that when they left their boats and nets they were at least sacrificing the profession, their money makers, their employment, their income. But the disciples first actions were to “give up everything, leave behind their jobs and their income, and to follow Christ.” That was their first action as disciples.
But even before that, Simon was asked by Jesus to do something that he had failed to accomplish. Jesus told Simon to put down the nets in the deeper water. Simon said, “we have been fishing all night and have not caught anything, but I will do it anyway.” These are acts of faith, without promise or fore knowledge. Simple situation here ... Jesus suggests they put out their nets into waters with no fish, and they caught so many fish two boats almost sunk. Luke 5: 1-11
Jesus said, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men” ... and off they went. They left everything and followed Jesus.
Wow.... could you do that? Well, recently, I witnessed many staff members of Abundant Life Academy do this exact same thing.
Every staff had been called out of the boat and to follow Christ to become fishers of men. But, not all of them did ... some followed their fear, and their comfort, and they denied the faith. Those that chose to follow Christ, without hesitation, began to encourage one another with statements of faith, gratitude, hope, charity, and “doing.” Facing the fear, and leaving everything, to follow the calling in their heart. This is what happened at ALA over the last week or two. Staff had a chance to be fulling committed and “bought” in with sacrifice. Many did it with glee, praising God, even though they had no idea how God was going to accomplish this feat, they have unusual faith.
Unfortunately, that was not the case with all the Abundant Life staff. Some staff only looked at what they would lose, and focused on their entitlements. There are some that acted exactly like the rich ruler, the Pharisees, and those who shrank back in fear deserting Jesus when they were asked to sacrifice. Jesus did ask all of us to sacrifice. He told us that we would be leaving father, mother, siblings, jobs, goals, aspirations, and going out without support or guarantees that needs would be met.
Recently, I have called all the staff at ALA to come out of hiding and to declare their intentions regarding the work of the Lord as it pertained to ALA. I was asking for strong believers to take bold steps of faith and warned that we were weeding out those who were not here for the Kindgom first and foremost. I had no other choice but to set up a confrontation, where God would allow for every person to decide. He was going to separate the sheep from the goats, the job seekers or the kingdom believers. The pretenders were going to have to declare and move out in a major faith walk, and if they were in on alignment with God’s plan for ALA, then it would be made obvious to everyone.
In the last year there has been a contention at ALA; along with strife, and a subtle rebellion toward leadership. It seemed as though there was competition between men, with different factions subtlety holding out for their philosophic view points. Good strong men who had success with previous schools. But instead of learning the Abundant Life program, which is based on Positive Peer Culture, these guys gave lip service to the PPC, but all the while ran their own show (convenience, ease, and comfort). It was only a matter of time before the rebelliousness caused enough discord that something had to be addressed.
At that time the program and academics were blended, acting more as a team, and managed by one person. Rod Quarnberg greatly struggled under the circumstances and even with my help we could root up the rebellious spirit (we called it the buffet-style employee), where employees went through a buffet table only taking the foods they like and leaving the rest on the table. Our employees did the same, deciding individually what they were going to invest into and what they were not. Rod had hand-picked these guys and he stood by them way too long. By the time Rod finally took his blessings off these guys, the damage was too far done. These guys had good hearts, and were good men. But they had another vision, another direction, and did not understand that rebellion is rebellion. I decided that being “good men” with “good hearts” was not enough. Therefore, I changed the criteria for staff selection back to the early years.
Although we saw a great deal of improvement after these staff members were eliminated, Rod decided to step down at the same time. It was never the same between Rod and I. He returned to academics and rarely engaged in the program elements. I believe that some bitterness and resentment remained in his heart. Being defeated and feeling like he let everyone down, Rod sank low and really never came out of it. Too much damage had been done and relationships bruised so severely they never did heal. Unfortunately, the division within the academy remained. Led by Rod, the academic staff were isolated from the issues of the overall academy and kept to themselves. This was not healthy, and in hindsight perhaps we should have had a clean break back when Rod stepped down.
The issue described above was entirely my fault. I am responsible, and I the one who set it all up, and there is no one else to take the blame. I was wrong and God gave me plenty of time to repent and I failed. I justified my disobedience through convenience. The point is that I alone did this and only by God’s grace can we overcome and survive. The bottom line is that I compromised. In my desire to provide the best staff at ALA, I allowed Mormons and pretenders to take key roles at ALA. Especially in the core academic positions. The Mormons by-in-large are lovely people, hard workers, loyal, and honest ... but only to a point. They have a fundamental belief that non-Mormons are not children of God and that we will not be a part of Joseph Smith’s heaven. They have never said this out loud in the open, but they will share this in the subtle corners of the room. They are not allowed to spiritually bond or accept the brotherhood from a non-Mormon, therefore they could never accept my leadership.
All the professional staff have returned to the classroom and the units. Wendy and I are working directly on the floor with the students Thursday through Sunday. During the week, we will be in the classrooms as teachers. Our academic team will not miss a beat, and in 30 days we will have exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations. This is going to be fun!
–Craig S. Rogers
Abundant Life Academy
When questioned about the blog, Craig Rogers said that it was not meant for everyone, but rather a certain group of people. (He has since taken it off the Internet.)
Rogers said that after health issues and surgery, and his absence, ALA business operations were out of money.
Staff comments –
“The staff wants to help the kids,” said one disgruntled former staff member. “We have always cared so much about them.” They said Rogers operates the business on fear and threat behavior towards staff.
Estimations from prior staff – roughly 20 personnel have left – is that there are around 50 kids there currently, with probably eight to 10 people left to work with the kids, with no educational staff.
“It’s just all about Craig,” said a former staff member. “We are worried about the kids.”