My life changed in 1996 when I left my parents and brother in Mumbai, India, where I was born, and came to the small town of Asheville, NC to attend boarding school. My mother was unwilling to let me, the youngest of two sons, move away from home at such a young age, but she eventually relented. My father was also reluctant, however, he saw the opportunities it would present to me. A practical man, he put one condition on my going: financial aid. He made it clear that our family didn’t have the resources to send me to Asheville School without some tuition assistance. So, I was elated when I received the acceptance letter along with the financial aid award.
It wasn’t until many years later when I realized those funds that allowed my family to send me to Asheville were made possible through the generosity of so many who’d forever remain anonymous to me. I don’t know who they are or how many, but I know that their willingness to give so that an Asheville School education would become more accessible and affordable to families like mine would provide an immediate benefit to the school and its students and faculty. It wasn’t just about helping or supporting me; it was also about supporting the school and its drive to improve its education and community.
We have known for many years now that a diverse community improves the educational process and outcomes for everyone. We also know now that diversity in all its forms, including socioeconomic diversity, drives innovation. Sameness is the greatest barrier to progress. Our diverse backgrounds and perspectives are important if we are to become a more perfect school, a more perfect Union. Your support of this year’s auction, and every auction before or since, is a testament to your understanding of these same important facts.
My story, of course, is only one of many at TCS and elsewhere. You will also hear at the auction from Ethen Pollard, Wilma’s son, who is a TCS graduate and who is now finishing up his doctorate from a top research university in the country. Ethen credits The Children’s School for his journey and the generosity of so many anonymous families who made his TCS education possible.
It’s a TCS tradition that the auction supports financial aid; in so many ways, however, it’s a mistake to say that’s what it supports. It’s not the “what” we care about here but “who.” Children, and now adults, like Ethen and me represent the “who.”
This year, one out of every five students receives some form of tuition assistance. That same ratio also applies to the money raised at the auction: one out of every five dollars we spend on financial aid comes from this one night alone. So yes, your contribution at the auction matters; it matters a great deal to 400 students and 300-plus families because it makes us all better.
So, I hope you will choose to support the auction this spring, for the first time or again. You can volunteer to help with the event, purchase an auction ticket, and bid on live and silent auction items.
On behalf of all of our students who attend TCS, I thank you for your commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive community.
For the children,