LuAnn Patrick Named Parent Volunteer of the Year
Posted May 17, 2012
Good morning. My name is Laura Martin and it is my pleasure to present the 2012 Carol R. Buckley Parent Volunteer Award. Established in the fall of 1991, this award recognizes a parent volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to GA over a period of time while remembering the personal attributes that Carol Buckley exhibited as a GA parent – an ever-positive attitude, a faith in young people, an enthusiastic spirit, and a loyalty to the philosophy of GA. Each year as I ponder the award criteria that so aptly and succinctly personify my mother, I remember that I am speaking to an audience for whom Carol Buckley is merely a name. My challenge is to help you know the woman chosen to represent this honor by seeing the friend so cherished, by understanding the person so admired, and by knowing the mother I love so very deeply.
The friend so cherished. Let’s start with an image. I ask you to find the artist deep within you. Start creating. Mom was a sassy little lady at 5’3”; her presence though was larger than life. At the age of about 30, she cut her long dark her into short layers, a style more appropriate for someone her age or so she thought. Even though she loved the golden highlights she added in later years, it is this short dark hair that I see in my mind’s eye. Her chocolate brown eyes were indeed the windows to her soul. Large bay windows filled with awesome views of passionate emotions, thoughtful feelings, her true self. I feel lucky that I wear my mom’s smile. It is comforting to look in the mirror and see her smiling back at me, especially when I miss her most. Outlined in bright pink lipstick all the time, deeper shades in the cooler months and cheerier hues on the warmer days, mom’s smile invited you to take a peak in the windows to see for yourself what was inside. Her nose sat perfectly in the middle of her round face. And it was perfect thanks to a plastic surgeon. She broke it as a young girl by running into the back of friend and the resultant bump rivaled that of the Wicked Witch of the West…I kid you not. As my dad tells me, mom hid shyly behind her books until the summer she turned 16 when she had her nose fixed (as she said). In the fall, a new girl arrived at school, bubbly and outgoing, friendly and gregarious, confident and ready. Can you see her? I hope you can.
The person so admired, the real Carol Buckley was much more than a portrait. To be honest, I am unsure how the definition of the Parent Volunteer Award came to fruition but the qualifying traits are without a doubt those for which mom was so revered. For the purpose of this award, these qualities are strictly defined with Germantown Academy in mind. Yet to really know Carol Buckley is to understand the bigger picture. Carol Buckley lived with an ever positive attitude; a can do person for whom nothing seemed insurmountable. She orchestrated family gatherings as if every occasion was of holiday magnitude, and she faced her illnesses seeing every doctor’s visit as a way to find health. She believed the best day arrived every day and treasured each of her 47 years worth. Carol Buckley’s faith in young people motivated her to dream. She understood and respected the wisdom of her elders learning much from the lives they lived. But she treasured the freedom of thought the younger generation so optimistically shares; the beauty of hope was her beacon. Carol Buckley’s enthusiastic spirit gushed out of every ounce of her body. She sached rather than walked, she giggled when excited and she chattered when she shared an idea. And when she had an idea, a plan was not far behind nor was the team to implement it. Carol Buckley was loyal to the philosophy of Germantown Academy. She believed wholly in all that GA offered as an educational institution, a cohesive community and a place to call home. This dedication stemmed from the loyalty planted deep within her soul. This is the value she valued most…her cornerstone. Do you understand her? I hope you do.
The mother I love so very deeply. Those who actually remember Carol Buckley most often speak of the picture they keep in their mind and the stories that beautifully illustrate her attitude, faith and sprit. Mom’s loyalty though is what I hold deep within my heart. A value she instilled by the examples she set. Invisible to those who purely watched, mom’s dedication was impossible to miss if you took the time to know the person in the package. She has been gone for just about 21 years yet I can still see and feel her presence. I am fortunate to know what she would say even though I can’t hear the words. I have learned much from her life and death and in this way she is always with me. You see those we love never leave us and when we learn how to live with their absence, they are present. It is a matter of loyalty. Do you know her? I wish you had.
I have thought quite a lot about loyalty this year largely as a result of the facelift that has transformed the Martin family. On August 26th, we traveled to Lancaster laden with new gear and bound for Franklin & Marshall College where Jeff was about to embark on his first year. The very next day, Katie loaded up the “old Toyota” with her well used supplies and hit the road to Collegeville for her final year at Ursinus College. Will ran through the house proclaiming every TV, computer and sofa to be his finally becoming the king of the castle. My heart feels empty when my children are gone although their joy fills the void. Life is about what you have not what you don’t have; David and I were simply at a natural crossroad on our life’s journey, our family nest becoming more empty than full. What I didn’t expect to discover though was how important the warmth and comfort of the nest was to all 3 of my children and how connected they would stay; they made it easy to live with their absence. Jeff called regularly to check on David and me and to chat with Will, the one he missed the most. Katie, with a car, came home for dinner and laundry, and a game or movie with Will.
My birthday fell on a Saturday this year and my children came home for it…for me. It was the best birthday I have ever had (and I have had a lot of them!) Katie and Jeff never missed a lacrosse game calling within minutes of each other to see how “dad” did. Jeff eagerly discussed game strategy. Katie, with a car, even surprised us by attending several home games. And despite the need to share his TV, computer and sofa, Will savored the calls and visits from “the big kids”. Loyalty rests deep within our soul embedded in the foundation of our being. Loyalty is our cornerstone.
Today we honor a mother well revered in the GA community as a friend, a person and a mother. You’ve all seen her, I think you have! Petite in stature, her quiet presence is never missed. Her hair is short and neat and in its organized place. Her eyes, framed in wire trimmed glasses, see and assess so that she can plan and share. And they sparkle when she smiles. Her smile…ever present…tells us she is ever ready. She giggles with the excitement of activities new or old. She chatters when sharing a keen observation or a well researched idea. You’ve witnessed her work in all 3 divisions of our school whether you have actually seen heror not. Willing to lead as a class co-chair, the All School Picnic chair or the leader of the past Used Book Exchange, she is equally proficient when providing data in the form of a spreadsheet or helping to redesign a form. Can you see our friend?
The Carol R. Buckley Parent Volunteer Award is not about achievement however, it is about attitude, faith, spirit and loyalty. These are the qualities we recognize today and truly why we celebrate today’s recipient. Her many letters of nomination rarely mention what she has done but rather thank her for being the person she is…a person so admired.
Today’s honoree shares her ever positive attitude. With a can do approach and that infectious smile, she is ready to tackle any job at any time using her own gifts and talents, particularly her keen attention to detail, to carefully and thoroughly complete the task. “Through countless hours of service, from major events to minor details that just need that extra bit of attention, [she] has given selflessly and good-naturedly of her time and expertise,” says one letter of recommendation. She can be counted on “to provide a frank parent perspective, intriguing ideas, and creative ways to tweak things that the regular eye wouldn’t likely spot,” says another. And lastly a letter states “[She] has an eye for detail whether she is working on the book fair/plant sale or assisting with a major event.” Yes, she keeps her eyes focused on the big picture and in this way is able to see the fine distinctions many often miss. She willingly voices her opinion in a productive way and good naturally results.
Today’s honoree has a faith in young people. She believes in the hope that lies within our young generation and knows that by preparing our children academically, socially and emotionally, we all will be well served. “It is her belief that each child is filled with the possibility for great success,” says a friend. “She has always worked not only for the best interest of the school, but for the students.” This mom understands fully what GA offers as a learning institution and as a community but more so she listens carefully to the voices of others. The best way look forward is by paying attention, taking note and working together. When we work together as teachers and parents, coaches and advisors, friends and mentors, we help our students, our children, reach their potential.
Today’s honoree has an enthusiastic spirit. Selfless in her willingness to help, she goes out of her way to give openly and honestly to all, especially those who are new to our community. As one letter says, “she is legendary for her work with new families in helping them navigate the trickiest elements of life at a new school, particularly the schedule and course selection.” She is seen as an “extraordinarily knowledgeable resource” whether she is discussing differences among text books with new parents or explaining the journey that is the college search with a parent who has not yet taken the trip. A nominator states, “Just her work in taking notes at every meeting and presentation to share with those who can’t attend is worthy enough of recognition!”
Today’s honoree has a loyalty to the philosophy of GA. Over time she has grown into a quiet leader in our parent community not needing to be front and center to take charge. One letter states, “[She] has never sought attention for herself [and has] only worked behind the scenes for the good of the school.” What’s more, her efforts are “consistently well thought out and always directed towards the best interests of the school.” And another says, “[she] has never looked to be in the spotlight and has done many jobs others would not choose.” And one more says, “She attends every single parent event religiously (if we can do that in a non-sectarian school!)” Simply put, she chooses to be a presence because she is dedicated, for the purposes of this award, to the philosophy of GA. Her dedication though stems from her deeply rooted loyalty.
Loyalty…the word that I believe most clearly describes today’s honoree! I first met her at a school fair in Conshohocken. Investigating GA for her middle daughter at the time, she spent much time speaking with me and Frida from our office and with the Parent Ambassadors who were helping us share GA. All of the qualities noted today, were obvious in that first meeting. She clearly investigated GA prior to the event and arrived already possessing a wealth of knowledge. She peppered us with questions focused on the details that comprised the big picture. She explained her daughter freely with the hope that GA could embrace her talents and would nurture her limitations. She had thorough and particular reasoning for her school search and while a move to GA would likely require some family adjustment, she knew the change was the right move for her daughter.
Loyalty: the cornerstone of her foundation, and a value that guides her actions. It is also one she has instilled in her 3 daughters. Please listen to what Shannon, Casey and Erin have to say about their mom:
Our mom LuAnn is the kind of person who works in the shadows - because she gets to GA before the sun rises and doesn't leave until after midnight. She can often be found roaming the halls, counseling other parents on what to expect in the college admissions process or color-coding students' class schedules (green for history, pink for science!). She's the person who thinks of all the little things, the person who fills in the gaps other people overlook. You ask her a yes or no question, and she gives you a spreadsheet with answers to all the questions you haven't yet thought to ask. That's just who she is, how she works, and how she goes above and beyond what is asked of her. We're not quite sure what she's going to do when Erin graduates next spring, but she'll probably still be roaming the halls of GA, advising parents on college admission, and making color-coded schedules sized perfectly to fit in a locker. We're proud of her and all of the hard work she has put in over the last 13 years of service to Germantown Academy, but mostly we're proud to call her our mom.
Do you know her? I think you do.
Please join me in celebrating today’s recipient of the Carol R. Buckley Parent Volunteer Award,