Q&A WITH CURTIS ANDERSON
How long have you been a part of the Congressional School community?
Daniel started at Congressional’ s Infant Toddler Center in 1996 and Julian started in 1999. We have been part of the Congressional community in different ways ever since.
Why did you select Congressional School for your children?
We were looking for full time day care close to our home. Congressional is ½ mile from our home. We relied on my mother in law to drive our sons to and from school and the short commute was very helpful. We were also impressed by Congressional’s campus and facilities, which offered a safe environment for our children.
How do you feel Congressional School has impacted your children?
Daniel and Julian forged strong friendships that continue to this day.
They received an outstanding education that prepared them for the next level. Daniel attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is now a mechanical engineer. Julian attended Flint Hill and is currently continuing his college studies to focus on film and the arts. Both often reflect upon lessons learned from Mr. Cavanaugh, particularly during spirited family debates about political issues.
Congressional also instilled in them the importance of service to the community. They were both members of Cub Scout Pack 1225 hosted at Congressional and did their Eagle Scout projects on Congressional’s grounds. Both boys enjoyed Congressional Camp during the summers, and both became Camp Counselors in Training and Counselors after graduating from Congressional.
Over the years, how has the School evolved/changed?
I have seen four Heads of School (Shirley Fegan, Seth Ahlborn, Janet Marsh, and Edwin Gordon); significant changes in technology (smart boards, laptops and chrome books); the addition of languages at lower grades; and improvements in how the school responds to challenges (September 11, the Beltway Sniper in 2002, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, cicadas in 2004, and the Pandemic of 2020), but through it all the community spirit of Congressional has always remained strong. In addition, several of my sons’ favorite teachers including John Cavanaugh, Michelle Fry, Todd Friedman, and Tim Smith, continue to “ignite the spark” in young minds.
What inspired you to volunteer at Congressional School?
First, I was asked. Second, the education of my children was, and is, important to me. Third, I felt I had some skills and insights to offer. Originally, I started on the Advancement Committee where we established the matriculation fee that has increased the Endowment fund ten-fold. 7 years ago I was asked to join the Board of Trustees and serve on the Finance Committee.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of as a member of the Board of Trustees?
As I finish my 7th year on the Board of Trustees, during which I served with 2 Heads of School and 4 Finance Directors, I am proud of several things that have left Congressional in a stronger position:
- How we handled the transition to a new Head of School
- That we revised the Strategic Plan
- That we established 5-year forecasting for our budget and tuition discussions
- That we built up sufficient cash reserves to weather the Pandemic
- That we built up the pool fund in anticipation of a major upgrade to the swimming pool
- That we built up the Endowment Fund
- That we started investing our cash in real investments other than savings accounts
- That we finally developed a capital plan to allow us to set priorities
- That we set up a real system between the Advancement Committee and the Finance Committee to review tuition annually
- That we refinanced our largest loan with an institution that provided us a lower rate
- That we have had clean audit opinions every year
As you look forward, what are your hopes for Congressional School?
I hope that Congressional continues to provide an excellent education and sense of community to a diverse group of families. Congressional needs to take advantage of its new found expertise in online learning to offer the Congressional curriculum and spirit to many others around the world. Finally, the Congressional Camp must continue to expand its in person and online offerings so that more Congressional students get the joy and experience of being counselors and teaching the larger community about the Congo spirit.
What is your favorite Congressional School memory?
There are so many because it is the total experience that matters. However, I enjoy seeing how each of the boys learned to persevere through challenges and to not be pushed into making a decision with which they did not agree. To me, they appear to live Congressional’s core values of Integrity, Kindness, Perseverance, Respect, Responsibility.