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Connecting and Collaborating
Parent Groups Build Relationships and Promote Ravenscroft’s Excellence
By Janice Lewine | Back to Table of Contents
Global Parent Ambassadors: Bringing the World to Ravenscroft
Ravenscroft is a patchwork quilt of families who chose the school not only for its outstanding educational opportunities but also for its welcoming community. Since 2016, Global Parent Ambassadors has strengthened that bond by encouraging international families to share their cultures and traditions and helping them navigate and enjoy new experiences in the United States.
Alumni parent Gail Kansler, whose daughter was adopted from China, helped identify the unique opportunities multiculturalism held for Ravenscroft. “I was intrigued by the concept of preparing our children for global citizenship,” she said. Wanting to support Ravenscroft’s International Diploma program, in 2016 she approached David Kates, who was then the school’s Director of Global Education and Initiatives. He suggested that Raven parents could boost community building by helping international families acclimate to the school and the Raleigh community. A new focus — and a new parent group — formed, with leaders soon realizing that the group could help build greater cross-cultural awareness among families interested in learning about other countries as well.
Celebrating an American tradition, GPA families gather in fancy hats to enjoy the Kentucky Derby in 2018.
GPA has hosted an impressive array of social and cultural events for parents since then. Food experiences — such as International Spice Night, a cheese-making workshop, a class on making spring rolls and cuisine tastings at local restaurants — always attract a crowd eager for exotic fare and cultural immersion. The group has also supported global programs with on-campus events including a Chinese New Year celebration that explored the Chinese zodiac and taught students animal characters; a Diwali festival featuring dance and authentic cuisine from the different regions of India; and a workshop on feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of creating a harmonious living space. Organizers of the school’s Cultural Festival, which takes place every two years, count on GPA members to help showcase the varied cultures and traditions of Ravenscroft families.
Parents involved with GPA support a Chinese New Year celebration for students in 2019.
“We hope to impart to our children cultural empathy and open-mindedness so they will become global leaders,” said Aeri Meyers, former GPA president. “We create opportunities for families to share in their commonalities, create memories and be part of their child’s educational life. One of the things I’m most proud of is seeing families who had been tentative about stretching themselves because of language barriers become very involved in the community.”
For many Ravens today, full cultural immersion beckons. As Director of Global Education Jessica Yonzon explained, “Global education at Ravenscroft is an important component of our Lead from Here framework — Leading Self, Leading with Others and Changing Your World — and we offer a number of travel, service and exchange programs to our Upper and Middle school students. GPA plays an important role to further our mission by supporting our programs in a myriad of ways.”
Students learn hula, a Polynesian dance form, during the 2018 Cultural Festival, a campus event GPA supports through its volunteer efforts.
With the pandemic keeping many Ravens close to home, GPA President Lourdes Andrews said the group is hard at work planning virtual events for parents. “We’re hosting a wine tasting with a sommelier on Zoom in November, exploring three wines from Lebanon, France and California and talking about the vineyards of those areas.” The group, which has a robust presence on Facebook, is also planning cooking lessons and other activities to socialize online.
Kansler said it’s rewarding to see how GPA has benefitted the school’s international families. “It’s given them the confidence to be part of the community, to get involved at Ravenscroft and also outside of it. It’s where many of them find their true friends. That sense of community and belonging is so important.”
As part of the RWorld festival in the fall of 2019, GPA helped students paint rocks to create a community rock garden.
Supporting and Recognizing Excellence
In addition to their outstanding work in building community and furthering the school’s mission, Ravenscroft’s parent groups have enhanced the culture of philanthropy by establishing endowments that recognize excellence and provide financial support for the school in perpetuity. Here are some of their contributions:
- The Parents’ Association Endowment Fund, established by the group in 2000, provides funds for capital purchases 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.
- The Ravenscroft Athletic Endowment, established in 2008 and funded by the Ravenscroft Golf Classic, is used to promote excellence in interscholastic athletics at Ravenscroft.
- In 2015, the Parents’ Association established the Embrace Possibility Fund, contributing $600K over five years in support of the $15M campaign.
- The Ravenscroft Athletic Club Leadership Fund, established in 2016, supports professional development for faculty and staff in the Athletics program.
Above, the best-loved social events for parents involved with GPA tend to involve sampling delicious foods from all over the world.
Want to get involved with a parent group? Check the school’s master calendar for Zoom meeting dates and links, and read the dedicated “Parent Involvement” section of the Ravenscroft Weekly for information and updates.
Faculty and staff discuss the impact of parent groups on our school and community.
Ravenscroft Magazine, Summer 2019