Volunteer Leadership Summit

When alumni think about SYA, images often come to mind from their year abroad. Many recall the first time they met their host families, the best school trip, a beloved faculty member, or perhaps a favorite local restaurant or café.

Rarely does anyone picture SYA’s “home” campus, an office suite in the renovated Davis & Furber Machine Company mill in North Andover, Massachusetts. There has rarely been an occasion to visit, but that changed this October when all SYA volunteers (Class Ambassadors, Philanthropy Council members and past, current and incoming trustees) were invited to our “global headquarters” to participate in SYA’s first-ever Volunteer Leadership Summit. Peak New England foliage colored most every tree as folks made their way to northern Massachusetts for this special event.

The conference room was filled with the familiar buzz of SYAers telling their stories, conveying their shared enthusiasm, and expressing personal gratitude for their experiences abroad in high school. Throughout the course of the afternoon, volunteers learned more about SYA’s intentional approach to its curriculum and how the “school” aspect of SYA continues to evolve, the ups and downs of admissions, the financial picture of SYA, and what is in the pipeline for alumni relations and events as well as major fundraising initiatives. Chair of the Board Kirk Davenport FR’77 FR’11P and SYA President Tom Hassan referred to SYA’s strategic plan as our roadmap to the future.

Following the afternoon programming, everyone gathered at nearby Brooks School, an SYA member school. Brooks Head of School John Packard, an SYA trustee, graciously welcomed all to the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner before introducing two Brooks students, also SYA Class of 2018 alumni, who spoke passionately about their experiences in Spain and China.

Framing his comments to align with the theme of the dinner, Davenport recognized Stephen Foster ES’65, whose long list of SYA accomplishments includes his being part of the first SYA class and his role as the first alumnus on SYA’s Board of Trustees. Davenport presented Foster with a new award, called the Stephen M. Foster ES’65 Exemplary Service Award, to honor Foster’s faithful commitment to SYA over many years, and his abiding service to further SYA’s mission.

One Class Ambassador commented, “It was a great day to refocus and jumpstart my relationship to SYA. I loved getting to meet new people and brainstorm ideas. It made me feel like I'm part of a community instead of just a solo volunteer.”

Half of SYA’s classes still need a Class Ambassador (click here to see who the 2018–2019 Class Ambassadors are). If yours is one of them and if you’re interested in learning more about this volunteer role, or other opportunities for you to get involved, please email alumni@sya.org. Thank you to all current volunteers for your extraordinary commitment to SYA!

View photos from the Volunteer Leadership Summit!

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