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December 16, 2021

By Molly Alpern, Assistant Director for Advancement Communications

“Whoever made a gift in Min Young’s name, they are on target! She’s an institution at Fieldston Lower — any parent would want their child in her classroom,” says Janet Pugh, Fieldston Lower Administration Associate and Students of Color Matter Faculty Advisor, when she heard that a gift to the School had been made in honor of Min Young Song, Fieldston Lower 1st Grade Teacher and Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees.

When making a gift to ECFS, donors have the option of naming someone at the School who they would like to recognize with their contribution. Honoring someone through a donation is optional, but it can have an extraordinary impact on the person. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School faculty and staff have been recognized and appreciated in a myriad of ways: thank you cards from students, treat deliveries from the P+T, and community-wide celebrations like Gratitude Week. But as Song learned, being recognized with a donation to ECFS brings a special sense of being seen and valued by the School community. “I was very honored,” Song says, “I know that people don’t have to name someone when they make a donation, so being a part of their gift is very touching.”

Song has two children at Fieldston Lower, giving her the unique perspective of being both a faculty member and a parent. “I’m truly thankful for all the teachers who make my children’s lives so wonderful,” she says, adding that she’s made gifts in honor of faculty before as a way to showcase how she appreciates their work.

When Upper School History Teacher Karen Drohan received the card letting her know a gift had been made in her honor, she said, “I immediately teared up. I felt proud, humbled, and affirmed in my work.” The affirmation was particularly poignant during a time when parents and guardians weren’t able to enter the School and faculty were grappling with the extra challenges of teaching through a pandemic. Those challenges weren’t just logistical, but emotional. “It’s been a hard 18 months,” Drohan says. “You always hope that you’re making a difference. Finding out someone had donated in my name gave me a sense of ‘okay, this is good. You’re doing it, you’re having an impact on these students and the work you’re doing matters.’”

When asked if she would encourage donors to consider making a gift in honor of a faculty or staff member who’s had an impact on their education or the education of their children, Drohan offered an empathic “Absolutely. It’s a wonderful way to let someone know they’ve made a difference.”

You can make a philanthropic gift to the Orange Fund that honors a member of the ECFS faculty or staff here.