Spotlight Volunteer: Mary McKelvey
Mary shares with us some wonderful information about programs from the past and how things have evolved over the years. She has been an Armatage parent since 2006 when her son, Willliam Bercaw (now in 6th grade), entered kindergarten in Ms. Borth's class. Her daughter, Sophie, is currently in 4th grade at Armatage.
Mary says, "I read a few(!) statistics about how parent involvement helps all kids and I happen to believe them. I love kids - my own of course, but all kids have the ability to make my day. I'm a former teacher who likes the flexibility of working with kids and teachers when I can, but not every day. I am "wow"ed and have fun working with the talented and caring parents who also are involved in the PTA".
Mary has been involved in many volunteering adventures at Armatage! Her first big event was co-chairing the Family Reading Night (with Diane Horak and Michelle DeVaughn). When Mary was asked how she got involved in this, she said, "I jumped in because I thought it would help get a grant for books for the school. I learned a ton, because the Armatage Family Reading Night tradition was much more complex than story time. I had to get 30+ volunteers to read stories in several rooms at once, and I didn't have experience coordinating volunteers unless I knew them."
Mary was also was part of a committee with the Gift-Wrap Sales Chair, Bruce Hillyer, to re-examine how the PTA raises funds. Nancy Luna, a former parent who has market survey expertise, surveyed the parents and determined that Armatage families would rather donate 100% to the school and have kids do something active in the process rather than sell candy or other stuff to raise money. The next year the Family Fun Walk (FFW) began!
Mary wasn't involved in organizing the FFW the first year; Nan Carlson, Dawn Lemke, and Tina Erazmus (former parents in both the Montessori and Community programs) took it on. They worked like crazy to make the new FFW tradition successful, far outpacing gift wrap sales! A bet was made with Mrs. Franks to wear the Foster outfit for one whole day if $15,000 was raised! The money was raised and Mrs. Franks wore the costume! The next year, she wanted to share the love...hence the "Who Will Be Foster" tradition.
McKelvey strongly believes in the Family Fun Walk event, both as a community gathering, and as a healthy way to raise money with kids. She has been heavily involved every year since its first, either chairing it or serving on the planning committee. The Family Fun Walk is her favorite event with kids, and Maude Music and Montessori is her favorite with adults. She also loves the Family Reading Night, Reading and Math Partners, Kids on Broadway, Science Fair, Track and Field Day and Armatage Adventures.
Mary served on the PTA board for multiple years, including acting as president during the 2009-2010 school year. That was the year of MPS "Changing School Options", a process which resulted in the closing of the Armatage Community School program, and the expansion (almost doubling) of the Montessori program. Mary helped rally parent involvement - both efforts to influence the school board's decisions during the CSO, and also to market the Montessori program to new families. It was a challenging year at Armatgage, but Mary's leadership helped navigate it gracefully.
As if all this activity were not enough, in 2010 McKelvey (along with Sarah Linnes-Robinson) started the Maude, Music and Montessori direct-to-school fundraiser (now in it's 4th year.) Linnes-Robinson, a community organizer extraordinaire, came up with the idea to approach Kevin Sheehy about collaborating on a fundraising event. Kevin is the owner of Cafe Maude, the neighborhood restaurant that pays homage to our school's namesake, Maude Armatage. The two went to talk with Kevin and his response to their request to host a fundraiser was more generous than they could have imagined. He donated the entire space, staff time, food, and dishes. After the meeting, they knew they had to act immediately on this great opportunity. They scrambled to put the event together in about 6 weeks. This was the first time anyone attempted to organize a parents-only event. This event has evolved into a critical direct-to-school fundraiser. In 2012, the event earned more than $17,000 to support staffing needs.
Mary McKelvey has been an integral part of Armatage for years. She either began or played a critical role in many of the events our school community's traditions. She never seeks the spotlight. But with everything she's done for Armatage, we would be remiss if we did not shine it on her once in a while. Thank you, Mary McKelvey, for all you do for Armatage.