Honoring Dedication and Service: Ali Bratun & Joyce O’Donnell

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year–St George’s Chapel. During this very special Chapel, we honor the faculty and staff who have completed their fifteenth year with WES with induction into the St. George’s Society.

These incredibly dedicated women and men are the glue that holds our community together. Not only are they carriers of critical institutional knowledge, but they provide a backbone of continuity for students, parents, and employees alike. They are the encouraging voice and the kind hug that envelop WES alumni when they return home for a visit. 

We were honored to have Isabelle Schuessler, the Founding Head of School, join us for this year’s ceremony as we welcomed two new members into the St. George’s Society: Assistant Director of Development Ali Bratun and Kindergarten Teacher Joyce O’Donnell. 

If you have warm memories of a WES community gathering, Ali most likely had a hand in creating it. From the Auction Gala to the Founders Day Picnics to alumni reunions and beyond, she has a gift for making events (as well as swag, invitations, or spaces) beautiful. She is the editor-in-chief of The WES Magazine, and if you visit campus, you will likely find her with a camera in her hand, capturing the cherished experiences, big or small, of our Dragons every day. But I think if you were to ask Ali’s colleagues their thoughts about her, they would mention how Ali will drop anything she is doing to help others. She is generous with her time and her talents, yet remains exceptionally humble.

Joyce is a true lifelong learner who has served in multiple positions–as a floating substitute teacher to Nursery Associate Teacher to Pre-K and beyond–with excellence. She even spent time in Middle School teaching Latin and ASC classes. Her experience shows her ability to flourish in a number of roles. She cares deeply about her students, modeling our “Be Kind” motto in her daily interactions with children. She consistently seeks to add new ideas to an already exceptional Kindergarten program to ensure the deepest learning experiences for her students. And she is able to expertly layer humor and structure and joy to ensure a safe and engaging classroom environment for our Kindergarten Dragons.

Thank you, Ali and Joyce, for sharing your talents, your passion, and your dedication with WES. 

I’d also like to recognize the other members of St. George’s Society and thank them for their extraordinary contributions to our community: Deighton Alleyne, Ruthann Arnsberger, Kim Bair, Michele Baker, Amy Barnes, Jane Boynton, Frances Caterini, Janice Davis, Linda Durling, Caterina Earle, Mehdi Elkassem, Matthew Frentsos, Dawn Harding, Jacqueline Hassanzadeh, Claire Henderson, Jayne Hood, Bill Isola, Martha Jenkins, Tolek Kozlov, Marguerite Miller, Mary Lee Nickel, Brenda Patterson, Annette Poston, Jane Reeves, Dave Schuessler, Petie Schuessler, Anne Smalley, Susan Stern, Nancy Wright, and LaKisha Yirenkyi. 

Yesterday’s Chapel reminded us all that when you have a deep love for something, and you add hard work and dedication to that passion, you can build something incredible. That is what Mrs. Schuessler did when she founded WES and that is what the members of the St. George’s Society have done and continue to do. 

Danny Vogelman
Head of School