On a blustery fall Saturday, between bar mitzvahs and sports games, 8th grade parents gathered at the home of GDS grandparents Earl and Karen Williams to become part of a story. It’s a story nearly 75 years in the making, and one with more than 450 players so far. The Williams family represents a fascinating part of that story.
Bryan Williams (the son of Earl) is an 8th grade parent––the father of Mackenzie Williams ‘23––but he is also an alumni parent (to Morgan ‘15), a GDS 5th grade math and homeroom teacher, one of three faculty and staff division chairs for the One GDS Campaign, as well as a GDS House Party host committee member for the campaign.
After a welcome from Associate Head of School Kevin Barr, Bryan took the floor to speak to the assembled parents. “There is no doubt that sending your child to GDS is a financial investment,” Bryan began. “However, I can say that without a doubt, the return on our investment has been substantial. Morgan and Mackenzie have grown, and continue to grow into confident, capable, and accomplished young people. Young people that are willing to ask questions, challenge popular beliefs, and look for ways to make the world better for themselves, but more importantly for those around them.”
As always, Bryan’s comments were heartfelt and meaningful, this time revealing the personal side of the positive impact GDS has had on his daughters’ lives. Bryan joined the 5th grade teaching team at Georgetown Day School in 2008, just two months prior to President Obama’s historic election.
Now in his 11th year at GDS, Bryan is known as someone to be counted upon. He is often the first one to volunteer a thoughtful comment or question during faculty meetings or pose one to a visiting expert; and when asked to collaborate or help with a project, much to the comical chagrin of his wife Colleen, Bryan almost always says, “Yes.”
“Bryan is such a passionate and dedicated colleague,” said Luisa Myavec, his 5th grade teaching teammate. “He does an amazing job balancing his professional commitments in the classroom and his engagement for the school outside of the classroom.”
In the weeks leading up to the gathering, Bryan and Colleen worked alongside other members of the host committee* to follow up with each and every parent to invite them to the afternoon’s gathering. Proud grandparents Earl and Karen Williams opened their home to host the event. Morgan traveled down from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia to be there.
“This is a truly unique time in our school’s history as we prepare to unify our school in 2020, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, for the very first time,” Kevin explained. “Unifying our School will advance our academic program, and it will strengthen our community. It enhances our efficiencies, and, believe it or not, GDS’s financial position will be even better after the building is complete.”
The new Lower/Middle School will boast almost 50% more programmable space and a layout far more conducive to collaboration than the current, and obsolete, corridor system.
As a further testament to Bryan’s hard work alongside Peg Schultz and Richard Avidon and the faculty and staff division committee, 97% of GDS faculty have contributed to the campaign for a total of nearly half a million dollars. To date, 450 families have made some of the largest philanthropic commitments they have ever made, not only to GDS, but to any nonprofit, because they believe in the mission, school leaders, and teachers like Bryan.
“Our facilities and our programs have changed and evolved to meet the needs of our students even as our mission has remained the same,” Kevin reminded parents. “GDS nurtures children to have empathy. It educates them so children can recognize injustice, and understand how they can actively work to end that injustice.”
For many attendees, Bryan inspired their interest in becoming part of the One GDS story. “Last year Colleen and I were invited to participate in the One GDS campaign, and we decided to make this contribution the largest and most meaningful contribution we have made to any organization and/or cause. That is because we truly believe in GDS's mission, and we know that the work that I see my colleagues doing every day is making a positive impact on all of our children.”
At the close of the event, Bryan, Morgan, and Earl stood beside a banner showing views of our future unified campus. The photo-op highlighted the dedication the Williams family has made to GDS from grandparent to faculty parent to alum and their commitment to the future.
*Thank you to the 8th grade host committee members: Aisha Wilson Bond '93 and M. Jermane Bond, Raïna Brubaker and Jessica Hough, Shawn Davis-Wilensky and Peter Wilensky, Nicole Elkon and Neal Wolin, Abby Greensfelder and Frank Foer ‘92, Tanya and Alejandro Mayorkas, Kim Parker and Dan Mach, Elana and Jonathan Perl, and Anu and Matthew Tate
Staff writer Danny Stock tells the stories of teaching, learning, competing, creating, and performing at Georgetown Day School. He is a former GDS second grade teacher and current parent.