After coasting through Vermont and New Hampshire public schools, I entered St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains as a freshman day student. Four years later I graduated from The White Mountain School in a class of 20 with the first two male graduates, Abel Toll and Tom Walsh. Thanks to wonderful teachers like Mrs. McIlwaine, Mrs. Logsdon, Mr. Whitten and “Mr. S.” (Stephenson), my writing was honed, my intellectual curiosity blossomed and my capacity for work expanded. Academically challenged for the first time and benefitting from great extracurricular activities, I discovered that I was capable of much more than I had ever imagined.
The skills and confidence developed at the WMS have been a strong foundation upon which to build my life. After graduating from Dartmouth as a member of its first four-year coed class, I spent 19 years as a commercial banker in Manhattan and then Lancaster, PA. In December 2014, I will retire as Director of Gift Planning for Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. During my 19 years at F&M, I worked in annual giving and major gifts before moving into gift planning, which focuses on legacy donations through, for example, IRA and insurance policy beneficiary designations, trust remainder designations, and bequests via will.
The wonderful generosity of generations of WMS alumni made my education possible. I take great pleasure in doing the same for others through the Annual Fund each year. After both my husband and I have died, a lump sum will pass to WMS through retirement plan beneficiary designations to create the Stefanie B. Valar Scholarship Endowment Fund in memory of Paul and Paula Kann Valar. This Endowment will provide scholarships in perpetuity.
I give because of gratitude but also because it adds meaning to my life. I want my life to matter, to feel that the world will be somehow better because I lived. Through support of WMS, I matter in the lives of wonderful young people. Generations of St. Mary’s alumnae did the same for me. Now it’s my turn to “pay it forward.” I also treasure the feeling of belonging. My WMS gifts connect me to this community which so enriched my life.
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for students grades 9-12/PG.