Three Cheers for the Remarkable Parents’ Association

During this unparalleled year, Chapin’s hard-working and innovative Parents’ Association has provided vital and consistent support to the community, ensuring that students, parents, and professional community members have remained connected and engaged despite pandemic-related challenges.

During the final PA meeting, which was held virtually on May 18 and led by PA Chair Farida Khan, Head of School Suzanne Fogarty praised the unflagging PA for their extraordinary work, while also sharing a round-up of School milestones and accomplishments.

“I would like to start by saying a very big thank you to Farida Khan for her leadership, tireless efforts to plan, pivot and triage, and all the other words that have too frequently populated our vocabulary this year,” said Ms. Fogarty, smiling broadly from her screen.

“Farida has led the PA leadership team with enthusiasm, innovation and terrific outreach, helping to bring our community together over Zoom, on the sidewalk for teacher appreciation events, through the gifts of sweets, thank you’s, and general good cheer. We are deeply grateful to you, Farida. Thank you for your partnership and deep investment in the Chapin community.”

In her warm opening, Farida noted that 120 new families will join Chapin in the fall, extending a special welcome to those incoming parents, who had been invited to this informative and celebratory meeting. She also lauded her fellow PA officers and volunteers for their invaluable contributions throughout the year.

The meeting continued with remarks from Upper School Head Allison Bishop, Middle School Head Mary Rafferty, and Lower School Head Thérése Cruite, who provided highlights from their respective divisions; Chapin partner Dr. Sten Vermund, Dean of the Yale School of Public Health, and Nurse Cathy Parker, who brought the audience up to date on Chapin’s successful and ongoing health and safety protocols; and the College Counseling Department, led by Karey Boals and Daniela Arreola Segrove, who gave an uplifting report that included the impressive college matriculation list for the Class of 2021.

After paying tribute to the three members of the professional community who will retire this spring – June Anderson (Head of Middle School Arts and Integration and a Dance Teacher), Deborah Carroll (Associate Director of Lower School Admissions and PA Liaison), and Martine Courtial-Eisner (Upper School French Teacher and Class 8 Dean) – Farida passed the virtual microphone to her capable Vice Chair, Rebecca Irwin, who will take on the role of PA Chair next year.

“I want to offer a word of thanks to Farida for all that she has done,” said Rebecca. “You’ve led with grace, and you’ve made our community stronger.” Sharing her screen, Rebecca joyfully announced the 2021-22 Parents’ Association officers, class representatives, and committee chairs, who will undoubtedly carry on the PA’s magnificent work.

For this article, Farida and Rebecca graciously answered a few questions from the Communications Office. Here are excerpts from their thoughtful reflections:

-What did you find were the most rewarding aspects of your work this year? What were some notable challenges the PA overcame?

Rebecca: “Chapin’s community is a strong and resilient one and maintaining this sense of unity and shared purpose during a year of remote school and work, against the backdrop that was 2020-2021, was a challenge. Of course, the Chapin community was more than up to the task, and we only grew stronger through listening to each other and working hard to come together.”

-How did you galvanize your fellow PA reps and volunteers to think creatively, remain positive, and approach their tasks with flexibility, enthusiasm, and compassion?

Farida: “We had challenges this year with the pandemic, but we knew we wanted to help keep our community thriving so we quickly pivoted to bring our community together virtually. We had a virtual Book Fair and launched an online platform for Gator Gear. A huge thank you to both the Book Fair and Gator Gear teams and all our families who rallied and worked to make these virtual events possible.”

Rebecca: “We are very fortunate in that we didn’t really have to galvanize the PA team. Its members are a reflection of our community, and it is a group of caring, high energy parents. We all brought the qualities of flexibility, enthusiasm, and compassion to the work of the PA this year, and that sprit was infectious.”

-What are three (or more!) words you would use to describe the Parents’ Association?

Farida: “Dedicated, creative, inclusive”

Rebecca: “Thoughtful, welcoming, committed”

-What has this year taught you about yourselves, both in your PA roles and as Chapin parents?

Farida: “I have learned that Chapin parents can do anything, even if the work is hard and uncomfortable at times. The key is that we all want the community to succeed and to have Chapin be the best that it can be.”

Rebecca: “I have learned the power of listening. We all have so much to learn from one another, and that begins by listening.”

-As you reflect on this year, what has been your proudest moment as PA Chair?

Farida: “I’m most proud of the work the PA has done to restructure the POCC committee (Parents of Children of Color). It now encompasses PAAC (Parents of Asian American Children), POCAD (Parents of Children of African Descendants), and LAPAC (Latinx Parents at Chapin).”

-What stands out most for you this year as Vice Chair, and what are you looking forward to as you step into the role of incoming PA Chair?

Rebecca: “Looking back, I am grateful to have been a part of the incredible 2020-21 PA team. I learned so much from so many people. A very special highlight for me, and a gift, was working with Farida and learning from her leadership. I gained a mentor and a friend.

Looking ahead, I look forward to our community gathering together to celebrate Chapin in new and old ways. I am also looking forward to getting to know the community better, as we continue to work to build a strong and inclusive Chapin and as we celebrate the values and moments that unite us as a group.”

Thank you, Farida Khan, Rebecca Irwin, and each and every member of the Parents’ Association! Chapin is immeasurably appreciative of all you’ve done and continue to do for the School.

To learn more about Chapin’s Parents’ Association, visit: https://www.chapin.edu/parent-portal/parents-association