Why I Give: The Nesmith Family’s Decade of Giving, Many Avenues of Support

Kathy Smith

For Julie and Benjamin Nesmith, parents of Britnee, Brandee ’15, and Benjamin ’24, the multifaceted word “support” is deeply woven into their personal philosophy of education. They believe that parents, children, and schools form a unique partnership, and that the parents’ role, integral to the success of the partnership, is to support the school, the teachers, and, of course, their children.

Eleven years ago when the Nesmiths enrolled Brandee ’15 in Shipley’s kindergarten, they committed to their philosophy and have not wavered since.

Julie explains it succinctly. “Educating a child is a partnership,” she says. “Of course the child is educated first at home. But then you send them off to school. Your role as a partner in their education doesn’t stop there. You let the child’s instructor know you’re on board. You support the school. Together you work to help your child succeed.”

Many Avenues of Support

Part of the parent/school partnership involves simply maintaining a presence in the school. Both Julie and Benjamin work full time. With a deep family involvement in sports, the arts, and their local community, it can be difficult to find time to come into the school. But it’s important. “It’s the definition of being a parent,” says Julie. “I want my children to know that I am here. There is nothing more important to me than their success.”

Showing Up

Julie participates on many levels within the classroom and during Shipley’s fundraisers. “I go on field trips with the children. I attend the pop-in parents, the shadow days, and the music recitals. There has not been any opportunity where a parent has been invited that I have not attended,” she says. And she’s even almost showed up when she wasn't supposed to. She laughs conspiratorially as she shares, “Recently, there was the Roald Dahl Tea. I thought I was supposed to go. My son said, ‘No mom, you don’t need to come!’”

And Helping Out

Julie believes volunteering at the many school fundraisers is an excellent way she can support the School. But it’s more than that. “By volunteering, I want the teacher to know that I am here supporting my child as well. I send the message that I value this part of being a parent,” says Julie.

For example.

Books, Shops, and Pumpkins

Julie has a great passion for books and hasn’t missed a Book Fair in 10 years. “I usually set up. I enjoy unloading the books and arranging them on the shelf. I enjoy hearing the children talk about what they plan to read.” Julie works with Shipley Shops, helping to transform Yarnell Gym into a place of commerce where friends, colleagues, and children can shop knowing they’re supporting the School. And Julie participates in the annual Pumpkin Patch, an event during which Shipley parents gather together to decorate the Lower School courtyard in the festive Halloween theme, and make sure there is a right-sized pumpkin for every child.

Shipley’s Annual Fund

Julie has come to anticipate the solicitations from the parent representatives of the Annual Fund with pleasure. “We have given to the Annual Fund every year. I feel you should give what you feel is most comfortable for you, whether it’s $10 or $10,000. You do it because you want to. You know the cost. You know the benefit. Everybody plays a part. And every donation makes a difference.”

The Next Generation

Brandee ’15, known for her extraordinary gymnastic talent and commitment to academics, is now pursuing business and sports management at West Chester University. Last year, when the Class of 2015 was seeking to have 100% of the members give back to Shipley, Brandee made sure she did her part.

For the Nesmith family, giving is simple. “It has always been important to our family to support the School in every way possible, as the School has provided such a supporting atmosphere for our daughter, Brandee and continues to do so for our son, Benjamin.”

Together, the partnership of Shipley and the Nesmith family can’t go wrong.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.