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PA Gifts Fund Lead From Here, Additional Institutional Priorities

Even amidst the constraints of pandemic protocols in the 2020-21 school year, the Parents’ Association’s energy and determination to build community and provide philanthropic support never waned. In addition to supporting teachers, students and families through community-building and advocacy, the group capped their year with a number of generous gifts to the school totaling $148,000. 

Photos of Lower School and Upper School students engaged in Lead From Here

Lower School and Upper School students engage in Lead From Here activities designed to promote communication and strategic thinking.

Maintaining its long support for Lead From Here, the PA gave $30,000 toward Ravenscroft’s continued partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-five global provider of executive leadership training. The funds will be used to create training videos and other materials to further support Lead From Here initiatives across campus. Lead From Here, introduced in 2014, has transformed school culture and curriculum to imbue all Ravens with character, service and leadership skills and equip them to take their place as citizen leaders.

Additional funds from the PA gift have been used to upfit the Lower School Innovation Hub with the necessary hardware to create a space for learning and exploration. The Hub — made possible by a lead gift from Ken ’87 and Margaret Kennedy — has already been, as Lower School Innovation, Design and Engineering teacher Danny Carlson said, “buzzing with activity and creativity.”

“The students see the new space, resources and technology tools we now have available and are instantly engaged and curious about what experiences the Innovation Hub can offer them,” he added. “These powerful teaching tools will allow our students and teachers to actively engage in each step of the Ravenscroft Design Process as they use their creativity and ever-growing knowledge to take our learning experiences to the next level.”

The PA is well-positioned in its philanthropic support for the school thanks in part to the Parents’ Association Endowment Fund. Since its creation in 2000, the endowment has provided funds for capital improvements and endeavors that benefit the Ravenscroft community. In addition, the fund supports faculty professional development, the Parents’ Association Distinguished Faculty Award and library/media centers and programs across all three divisions. 

Kathy Pretzer and Jennifer Wickline, who served as PA co-presidents in 2020-21, praised their fellow Ravenscroft parents for making the group’s efforts so successful last year. 

“In an exceptional year that required all parent volunteers and PA work to occur in a virtual environment, we were blown away by the enthusiasm and commitment from our community to continue to give to Ravenscroft,” Pretzer said. “We were thrilled to be able to give our faculty and staff special treats, meals, surprises and messages to show our gratitude throughout the school year.”

Further underscoring their mission of nurturing community, PA leadership also proposed to its members a change in how some funds from the endowment will be used. Wickline said the executive committee was gratified by their fellow parents’ approval.

“Our membership voted to allocate some of the distribution from the PA endowment toward our annual operating budget,” she said. “This bold initiative will allow us to become an entirely self-funded organization, with the ability to focus on ‘friend-raising’ as opposed to fundraising.” 

The change also benefits another parent-led organization. In alignment with the school’s mission and commitment to promoting a sense of belonging for everyone in the school community, the PA will now provide funding for Parents Supporting Diversity and Inclusion (PSDI), whose members work in support of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. In 2020-21, PSDI programming included a workshop entitled “Origins of Race and Racism” led by Ayo Magwood and a book club discussing “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas.

“The leadership of PSDI has spent time over the last years refining their mission to offer training to our parent community on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Lisa Horton, Assistant Head of School for Human Resources and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, said. “This generous gift from the PA will help PSDI fulfill that mission with the families in our community. I am grateful that the PA has made funding our DEI initiatives a priority.”

“We are proud of the PA’s ability to disperse nearly $150,000 in year-end funds toward all areas of campus, including supporting more programming for our community from CCL, outfitting the Innovation Hub for the Lower School and giving an unprecedented gift to support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts at Ravenscroft,” Pretzer concluded.

Read more about the invaluable work done by the PA, PDSI and other parent-led groups in this story from the Fall 2020 issue of Ravenscroft Magazine.