A photo of five-year old Julia Kaback holding up ten fingers
Me during my first year at The Churchill School.

I recently contemplated making my first donation to my grade school, The Churchill School and Center in New York City. I attended Churchill from kindergarten until my high school graduation in spring 2014. I was known as a lifer* in the Churchill community and have remained involved. I now see the importance of giving back to Churchill through donations and visiting as much as possible to offer advice to future graduates. It is strange to think that, this June, it will be four years since I walked across the stage with my high school diploma. Those who positively informed my Churchill years will always remain a part of my life.

During my first year of high school, my elementary school principal, Meryl Schwartz, passed away suddenly. Until her passing, Meryl had been a constant in my life as a mentor and friend. During moments of defeat, she mentored me to be the best person possible and to never apologize for making mistakes. It was in the days following Meryl’s passing that I found myself broken mentally and wondered if there was a way Churchill could honor her to see her legacy live on in our small community. A few days later, those closest to Meryl, including a few of my favorite teachers, friends, and staff, established the Meryl Fund. The Meryl Fund was created to help elementary school-aged children reach their highest potential inside and outside the classroom by providing funding for meaningful activities. 

Meryl always encouraged me to see beyond my learning challenges and use passions to cope with the upsets of life. Because of her mentorship, I seek to write in times of stress and know that students at Churchill will find their own sources of happiness. My fondest memories of Meryl are oftentimes recalled during the holiday season. Meryl saw Halloween as a “national holiday” and always reminded students such as myself to be true to ourselves and to recognize the gifts we were given by those closest to us. My education at Conn has shown me that giving back to others is a simple task. Giving back can come by way of a donation or even a moment of holding someone’s hand when learning gets hard. Giving support to something you love will make success possible for everyone.

Later that day, after contemplating the impact Meryl had on me, I sat at my kitchen table with a pen, checkbook, and courage, and gave my first donation to the Meryl Fund.


*Lifer –  n. A person who spent their whole primary school education at Churchill