Daniel was a 2006 Marshall Scholar in Political Theory at Oxford and is a graduate of Yale University. Currently he is president of Americans for Campaign Reform, a national bipartisan initiative. He is recently married to Dr. Sindiso Mnisi Weeks of Cape Town, South Africa.
Nancy and Patrick Gillam
Dear Fellow Alumni,
From time to time in life, we arrive at a new place and feel like we have come home. That was my experience arriving in Dennis Demanett’s third grade class at Pine Hill School in 1991. It was more than the simple satisfaction one finds in the company of good teachers and friends, or in buildings and grounds that nourish and inspire. It was the sense that in this place, as in no other, I would be met for who I was, allowing what gifts I had in me to be witnessed and unfold. I sense I was not alone among Pine Hill graduates in receiving these uncommon gifts, and it is in gratitude for that foundation that I’ve chosen to support Pine Hill and ask the same of you.
We’re told that the highest aspiration of Waldorf schools is “education toward freedom.” As I have come to understand that ideal, it is about seeing the child as a whole human being, comprised not just of a thinking mind, but of a feeling heart and willing hand also. It aims to nourish in each child those (often dormant) faculties of thinking, feeling, and willing by which we come to know ourselves, find our gifts, and give of our gifts to the world. In retrospect, that is the genius of a schooling that matches science and circus, algebra and eurythmy, history and handwork, writing and recess, and all the rest. I can’t think of a higher calling than to guide our children into balanced and free-thinking human beings, conscious of their gifts and of their calling to give.
High ideals aside, my Pine Hill years were fun: they taught me to love learning in its thousand forms, and to want more of it long after I left. That commitment to the craft of world- and self-discovery, and ultimately service – more than any particular set of academic equations or facts – has served as the indispensable foundation for all my future studies and work. I have seen that same commitment at work in the lives of so many other Pine Hill grads before and since.
The purpose of this letter is to ask for your support of Pine Hill’s Annual Fund. Not because Pine Hill is the only worthy cause – it’s not. In fact, our Waldorf education calls me to think first of the 20 million Pakistanis displaced by floods, of the 25,000 children who die each day from preventable, poverty-related causes, and of the numberless other victims of human and environmental devastation around our world. Let us attend to those tragedies as best we can, but let us also consider the educational foundation on which we’ve built our lives and ensure that it continues to serve generations of children to come.
Just as our Pine Hill educations were made possible by the additional support of alumni and friends, as to charge in tuition the full costs of running the school would be to close off opportunity for many Pine Hill families to attend, so too does the school rely on us now to fill the gap between tuition and operating costs by giving to the Annual Fund.
I’m grateful for this opportunity to support Pine Hill in its vital, continuing work on behalf of all our children. I know I’m not alone.
(Class of 1997)