The Right Place, The Right Time, The Right Gift

A favorite class, a transformative teacher, memories of a triumph on the stage or on the playing field: Underpinning the diversity of a student’s experiences is the Penn Charter Annual Fund, which makes possible excellence in academics, arts and athletics.

Penn Charter’s fifth annual Great Day to Be a Quaker was on the calendar for March 12, which turned out to be just when the covid-19 outbreak was morphing into a deadly pandemic and the day before the state announced a stay-at-home order that emptied the school and forced a quick pivot to distance learning.

The Great Day team huddled on March 10, considering whether to postpone the day. Ultimately, the decision was made to forgo some of the frivolity and celebration of the day and move forward with a singular and simple focus: What does PC mean to you?

Matt Gannon, an investment banker with Barclays, and Trish (Manning) Gannon, a manager of development operations with Teach for America, expected to celebrate their 15th PC reunion in May. The OPC ’05 couple, who both started at PC in Upper School, live in Philadelphia with their two children (Gunnar and Peyton) and hope to someday be PC parents.

Great Day 2020 looked different but was a celebration of PC nonetheless. Hundreds connected to share reminiscences about beloved teachers and friends. It was as if Penn Charter, viewed through the prism of troubled times, looked larger as a valued place, a touchstone for their lives, and worthy of their support. The interactive day of giving raised countless tributes and $340,253 from 389 donors on that single day.

For Matthew Gannon OPC ’05 and Trish (Manning) Gannon OPC ’05, Great Day was the right day to make their first gift to the place that has impacted them both deeply.

“It just felt like time,” Matt said of their William Penn Society leadership gift. “The reminder of Great Day was a good impetus. We really enjoyed our time there, received a strong education, and we maintain great friendships. It was important to us to support the school in a way that it supported us during our tenure there.”

Amanda Aronoff and James Keller P ’26 chose Penn Charter for their youngest, Nathaniel, “because we thought it was going to be the perfect place for our son,” Amanda said. Nathaniel “has blossomed in every possible respect,” she said of her son’s first year at PC. “The teachers got him as a person and as a learner.”

Like the Gannons, Amanda and James made a leadership gift to the Annual Fund on Great Day to Be a Quaker. “We wanted to be part of the bigger effort,” Amanda said of their gift. “The Annual Fund can be used in the broadest way. We are happy with everything, so we trust the school to use it in the most beneficial way.”

Amanda Aronoff and James Keller love that all of Nathaniel’s talents as an athlete, scholar, leader and chess player can shine at PC. Nathaniel pictured, center, with his parents and siblings.

The remarkable support and celebration of the school on Great Day was a beacon in a darkening sky. The Penn Charter community—especially parents—supported the Annual Fund even amid the challenging circumstances of the latter part of the school year. OPCs, parents, faculty and staff continued to give, ending the 2019-20 fiscal year by meeting the goal, having raised $1,605,012 for Penn Charter from more than 1,515 donors.

“Each year, but especially in a year like this one, every gift makes a difference for students and teachers,” said Emma Rowan, director of the Annual Fund. “Because of the generous support from new and longstanding donors in our community, Penn Charter is better prepared for what may come next year.”