Hockaday Receives $3 Million

Hockaday Receives $3 Million

IMPACTFUL DONATION John Cranfill, board member of the William B. Dean Learning Center, accompanied by members of the Dean family, signs a check made payable to The Hockaday School. Credit: Charlotte Hoskins
John Cranfill, board member of the William B. Dean Learning Center, accompanied by members of the Dean family, signs a check made payable to The Hockaday School.
Credit: Charlotte Hoskins

On May 7, Hockaday announced a $3 million donation dedicated to creating the Dr. William B. Dean Endowment Fund for Service Learning and Academic Learning Support. The Dean Learning Center presented the gift in honor of its founder, Dr. William B. Dean, who was also a member of the Hockaday Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1977.

He dedicated his life to serving his community and educating students with learning differences.

According to Chief Financial Officer JT Coats, Dean’s passion and legacy will live on through this gift. “[This gift] was something that married really well with what we’re already doing,” Coats said. “One, it supports key programs such as service learning and learning support, and two, it will allow the school to enhance those programs.”

Currently, the school’s program extends from prekindergarten to 12th grade. In regards to Lower School, Director of Learning Support Shelly Cave said, “we do early intervention and early screening, so we try to catch things that we can help with before they become problems in the classroom for learning. It’s more of a support for the classroom teacher where students who need additional help have that along with the classroom [environment].”

In Middle School, support is offered within the classrooms, and the “Learning Lab” is offered as an alternative to a foreign language course. In Upper School, the focus changes: “Accommodations for students with learning needs should be met in the regular classroom with simple adjustments made to learning,” Cave said.

While the program is already a success, Hockaday faculty hope to expand the program.

Laura Day, director of Service Learning, and Cave are in charge of handling this donation, which “is going to ensure that service learning and learning support don’t go anywhere and that [they] will always be present at Hockaday,” Day said.

Since the $3 million donation is an endowment gift, the money will be invested. Then, a specific percentage of the returns from the investment will be put into the operating budget. These returns will only be used to enhance the specific goals of academic learning support by adding extra money to the services already in place. “[The donation] is so helpful because it provides budget relief and it frees up money for [other purposes],” Coats said.

The Dean family donation adds to the school’s $100 million goal to support endowment initiatives and improvements, shedding light on a critical part of the school’s experience.

“We have great programs in science and STEAM, things that I am so excited about, but there are other great things. Service and learning support are two of the areas that, sometimes, we forget how important they are,” Wargo said. “It sends a really strong message on what we believe in as a school; it speaks to the four Cornerstones and what they mean.”

Coats added that the gift “allows us to serve a larger community and serve them well. What we can do now with this gift can really focus on the individual girl…and this gift is going to help us achieve that vision of really supporting every single girl,” she said.

Since the academic learning support programs at Hockaday are fairly new, Cave is hopeful that this donation will propel and expand this program. Her hope is that “[the program] will continue to provide the services for all students at Hockaday, whether they’re new students, students with learning needs or students who just need to study for a final and don’t know how to, so that we have personnel on site to help with that.”

Cave also added that “we are ready to go into the next phase and to bring people in who are experts to work with us and look at the program to make sure that we are one of the best programs in the country so that we can go out and help others.”

The $3 million will introduce Hockaday to more advanced assistive technology, like voice-detecting apps. Students may also be given the opportunity to take tests by listening instead of reading with QR codes.

“The learning support program will be so normal and natural here at Hockaday that we won’t even think of it as a separate program,” Cave said.

Donations have served as a critical part in expanding and enriching the school. In particular, this donation will change the future of each girl at Hockaday.

Coats said, “It’s going to be a really impactful gift.”

– Aurelia Han, Staff Writer                                                                               Additional Reporting By Sunila Steephen and                                                   Manisha Ratakonda