Monday, April 24, 2017

Rededication Remarks, April 21, 2017

Thanks to all of you for coming tonight, and for your support of The Nora School in many ways over many years.  I’d like to offer a special thanks to Marcia Miller for organizing both our open house this morning and this reception tonight.

Legacies have been much on my mind lately, and I realized a couple of years ago that The Nora School is my professional legacy. And for many of you The Nora School is certainly a large part of your legacy to the world, and while we’re here to socialize and enjoy each other’s company, I’d like to recognize a few of the folks who’ve been instrumental in the development of Nora, and this wonderful building, and for whom this school is part of their life’s legacy that, at the end of the day, will live on past all of us.

We would not be in our own building without the gift that Beau and Linda Kaplan made out of the tragedy of their daughter Nora’s passing 20 years ago, and I hope that the two of you see this school as a major part of your life’s legacy.

Gerry Widdicombe was the Board Chair and a generous friend 17 years ago when we built this school the first time, and I hope that you see this school as a major part of your life’s legacy. Robert Herman was the Board Chair prior to this construction project, and in addition to his and Andy’s generosity he helped lead our investment efforts that allowed this project to be feasible. I am grateful for your years of work on our behalf and I hope that you see this school as a major part of your life’s legacy.

Jimmy Kraft is our current Board Chair, having been associated with the school for almost 20 years when he refused to leave the building until he talked with the Head of School about his son’s admission. That stubbornness has served us well.  With background in construction Jimmy oversaw both the original building and this expansion. The Nora School is certainly part of your life’s legacy.

I’d also like to thank the other members of the Board who have been generous with their time, talent, and treasure as we’ve pursued the creation of an ever more dynamic and caring school: Judy Gelman, Elaine Mack, Val Wise, Beau Kaplan, Matt Harre, Chris Conlon, and Andy Schonbach.

None of this happens without the careful tending of financial resources, and our construction projects have been greatly helped by the invaluable work of the three assistant Heads with whom I’ve had the honor to work. Elaine Mack, now a Board member along with Beau, has a tenure at the Nora School which, like Beau, is now in its 30th year.  Mara Nicastro, now Head of School at Friends Meeting School, carried on that critical work. And this project would not have turned out nearly as well without both the financial, architectural, and moving skills of Norman Maynard, who’s previous life experience as an architect greatly improved every aspect of our new home.

Building on the work of Jane Nelson, the actual architect of the expansion is Glenn Forrest, who’s artistry and attention to detail can be seen as you turn every corner upstairs.  Glenn, I’m sorry I picked the wrong grout for the bathrooms.

The second story was built by Abramson Construction, who’s president Jeff Abramson is here tonight. He kept the project on time and within budget, and offered us some terrific value engineering as we went along. We highly recommend Abramson construction for all your construction needs.  Rusty Rowles was our construction superintendent, who kept the subcontractors moving forward, even when Montgomery County and Park and Planning wouldn’t cooperate. Rusty was always happy to see Norman or me arrive on site first thing in the morning! Ultimately this is but a building, and what’s really important is the activity that occurs in inside the classrooms every day. We’ve worked with many talented teachers over the years, including this year, but three in particular have been on this long march from the Washington Ethical Society building, to The Nora School, to Grace Episcopal, and back again to The Nora School. Moving a school twice in one year is pretty absurd, but having moved it three times I’d like to recognize and thank these three as representative of all those who have worked here since 1964. Scott Madden,  Chris Conlon, and Hedy Szanzer.

Most importantly, thanks to all of you who support us in the work we do, because a the end of the day this space is but a container for the teaching, the nurturing, the caring, the relationships, the pushing and the hand holding, the encouragement and the tough love, that goes on here on a daily basis. Everyone deserves a second story, and the lives that are changed in this building, that are given a “second story,” are your true legacy. We now have a space that allows our creativity as teachers to flourish, for which, on behalf of our students, present, and future, I thank you.  Please enjoy the evening!

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