Generous Hearts

In March 2020, George School quickly pivoted to a virtual format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While that decision was met with support from the community, we know that the “magic” that occurs at George School happens through personal interactions among faculty and students both inside and outside of the classroom, in the dormitories, and on the athletic fields. For this reason, the administration and faculty worked tirelessly over the summer to determine the best way to safely reopen the campus for the 2020-21 academic year.

Thanks to an extraordinary gift from Steven Kauff ’80, George School was able to deliver a program in the safest and most equitable way for the entire student body given the challenges of the pandemic. “The community, which is George School, was a foundational experience for me and I know that I am in no small part the person I am today due to my four years at George School,” said Steven. “It has always been a community which allowed individuals to forge their own path while supporting them through the trials and tribulations of growing up. As part of the George School community, I found an environment that was both accepting and nurturing and allowed me the freedom and flexibility to grow in the manner and at the pace that I needed,” he continued. “It was the right place at the right time for me.”

“I wanted to ensure that others could benefit from the George School experience as I had the opportunity to do,” Steven explained. “My nephew, Cooper Feiner ’20, also attended George School and I had the opportunity to see him thrive in all the ways that I thought that he would in the George School community for his first three and a half years, and then witness the devastation of him having to miss out on the second half of his senior year, inclusive of all the rites of passage that are a part of that. I have a deeply rooted belief that the social, in-person aspect of the George School experience cannot be underestimated.”

In making his gift, Steven decided to invite his classmates and others to join him to help the school cover the significant additional costs associated with reopening campus. He pledged an additional gift if his challenge was reached.

“As a George School student, one of the fundamental things that you learn is that you are part of a larger community and how each person has a responsibility to provide positive impact upon their communities. I wanted others to have a similar opportunity large or small to join this effort and more importantly to assure that this tradition of community support continues,” said Steven.

One of those who responded was his classmate Jill Wilkens ’80, p’21. “As an alumna and current parent, I was thrilled to participate in the invaluable initiative set forth by my classmate, Steven,” said Jill. “I credit George School with critically shaping my life’s success and providing me with some of my most treasured memories. Having had the opportunity to “re-live” the George School experience with my daughter has been a tremendous blessing and I have appreciated watching her evolve into an independent, accomplished young woman, imbibing the values unique to George School.”

“I am impressed with how the school safely navigated through this tumultuous year and never compromised its mission, keeping students engaged intellectually, personally, and spiritually,” continued Jill. “I would expect nothing less of such an incredible learning community!”

Thanks to the generosity of Steven and all those who responded to his challenge, $283,475 was raised and quickly put to good use preparing a safe school environment.

We are grateful for everyone who supported the school this year in so many ways. Your care and concern were evident, and we felt your love. Your actions helped all those who have worked tirelessly and cheerfully throughout the year to address challenging, ambiguous, and fluid situations in the best way possible while supporting our students as they navigated the school year. All this reminds and reinforces how important community is. A school is a community comprised of students, faculty, administrators, parents, alumni, parents of alumni, and friends. Each has a role and together we are stronger. Thank you.