My First Corporation Meeting

My first corporation meeting.

Like the horses that will run the Preakness Stakes this weekend, Belmont Day is also rounding the turn and headed down the home stretch. Every year, May is full of closure activities for each class, each student, and of course, the community as a whole.

One such closing event, the annual corporation meeting and the honoring of departing faculty, took place last night. This morning, as I checked in with faculty, I heard over and over again, how very “BDS” the event was: a humble gathering in Coolidge Hall of faces, new and old, to pay tribute to two pillars of our community who are moving on at the end of this year. Lucille Kooyoomjian, our director of finance and operations will leave us after nineteen years, and David Downing—kindergarten, second grade, and fifth grade teacher and the current director of the Associate Teaching Program—after twenty-six years. Both have given heart and soul to our school for many years and we joyfully and gratefully honored them. I read a letter written by alumnus Jason Barth ’99 who described David’s significant impact on him during his elementary school years and again when he returned as a graduate student in our associate teaching program; and for Lucille, words of tribute and a song performed by the finance committee—”You picked a fine time to leave us, Lucille”—sung in her honor. It was a joyful gathering of the many people whose lives have been improved by these two wonderful people.

From the celebration, our group moved from Coolidge to the PAC where, first, the parents’ association reported on their year’s work. I was reminded then, as I have been all year, of the incredible dedication and work ethic of our parent volunteers. The PA events—from the Pumpkin Patch, to faculty appreciation breakfasts and a luncheon, to the auction and many more—provide evidence of the remarkable support our community receives from this group. It also provides evidence of the power of strong leadership. Under the careful purview of our PA executive committee—Augusta Sparks, Antonia von Gottberg, Elliot Targum, and Crissy Straub—we thoroughly enjoyed every event thanks to the clear standard of excellence that they set for us.  

Of course, the big reveal of the parents’ association portion of the night belonged to our Homegrown Auction Co-Chairs, Keri Baugh and Stephanie Kadnar ’84. Together with the support of subcommittee chairs and countless parent volunteers, they hosted an event that was, by any standard, exceptionally successful as a community gathering and fundraiser for the school. If you haven’t done so yet, please be sure to check out the photos from the auction on our website.

We then moved on to faculty milestones—recognizing faculty and staff who have been working at Belmont Day for ten, fifteen, twenty, or even thirty years. Before you read on, take a moment.  How many faculty do you think would meet such a standard? Once you have a number in mind, read on.

We recognized no fewer than sixteen faculty for their longevity at BDS. Sixteen! Now, try to guess how many teaching years they have collectively contributed to the school. If you were under 200 you were too low. All told, these sixteen community members totaled 216 years of service to the school. (I had thought 215, but Lino Medeiros did me the favor of correcting me mid-speech to ensure I had my numbers right—thanks, Lino!) This impressive representation of teachers, staff, and administrators stand for something larger than themselves: the dedication of our entire educational community to the students of Belmont Day.

After speaking to some of the school’s achievements over the course of this year, many of which have occupied this space in the Scoop throughout the year, the board of trustees took the helm to open the financial books, of particular interest as we consider the financing for The Barn. Finally, we honored five departing trustees whose guidance and stewardship have been invaluable. I have said it before, and I will continue saying it: our school is fortunate to have a board of trustees as deeply committed and understanding as ours. Rest assured, our school is represented by an exceptional group of parents, PA representatives, outside educators, members of our own faculty, and alumni of the school. The board will welcome a small slate of new members for the 2017-2018 year and we were present to witness the formal voting in of the new slate.  

We then adjourned. It was a sweltering night in the PAC, but a meaningful one. From the broadest perspective, it was a night dedicated to the health and vibrancy of our school and the leadership from a committed parent body, a phenomenal faculty, and a trustees dedicated to responsible governance.  

All of which can only mean one thing: it’s May. And down the stretch they come.

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