MANCHESTER >> Maple Street School's longtime director of development, Kate Bryan, will be leaving her position next week to take a position with the Battenkill Valley Health Center.
The faculty and students of the independent school held a farewell celebration for Bryan on Wednesday. "We celebrating someone very special today," Head of School Fran Bisselle, who is herself leaving the school at the end of the year, said to the assembled students, "When you first come to Maple Street School, the very first message you hear is about neing a first class citizen. Ms. Bryan is truly the quintessence of being a first class citizen."
Bryan, who began working at the school in 2006, was responsible for media and community outreach, as well as being a key figure in raising money for student scholarships. "So many people here," said Bisselle, "were able to come here because of her hard work." Bisselle said that if Bryan was a superhero, she would be the entire Fantastic Four, because of all the roles she plays at the school.
At the celebration on Wednesday afternoon, Bisselle read a poem praising Bryan's virtues, with the students chanting the final lines of each stanza: "Because our Kate is great!" Students also read personal thank-you's for Bryan, which were bound and presented to her, and ranged from taking awesome pictures of soccer practices to being there when students needed support. The students and faculty of the school also donated three books to the school's library in Bryan's name, "The Red Apple" by Feridun Oral, which the kindergarten class chose because the book reminded them of Bryan in several ways, including how helpful she is to her friends; "Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa," by Erica Silverman, which was chosen by students because of how helpful Cowgirl Kate is; and "Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild," by Katie Cotton, which was chosen by the school's librarian.
"I just want to thank all of you so much for the many years I've had at Maple Street," said an obviously emotional Bryan, "I thank you for letting me be a part of your lives." She said that she had loved working with all of her colleagues, new and old, and would carry her relationships with them with her forever. The ceremony was concluded by three students performing Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" on ukuleles.
Bryan, who for 11 years ran the baseball program in Arlington, said that after her children aged out of that, she had been looking for another way to give back to her home community of Arlington. She began volunteering for the BVHC, serving on its development committee for the past year. Recently, BVHC Chief Executive Officer Grace Gilbert-Davis told Bryan that the board of directors had approved the creation of a development director position, and that she thought Bryan would be the perfect one for the job.
"My heart is here," said Bryan, "and I didn't want to leave Maple Street in the lurch." She said that it was a difficult decision, but that she eventually decided that she wanted, as an Arlington native, to help BVHC make a difference in her hometown. She said that the center has a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of the people she loves most, her parents and her children.
She said she would miss seeing the kids every day the most, but said that she would also miss getting to regularly speak with all of the grandparents she has built up relations with over the years. "I've formed some pretty amazing relationships with grandparents," she said.
Before Bryan could even consider leaving, she and Bisselle worked to find a replacement for the development director position. The new director will be parent Meredith Morin, who will begin in the role on Monday.