More than teachers

Valerie Lederberg Landon School

2016-17 Landon Mothers Association (LMA) Chair Valerie Lederberg (pictured above with her sons and her husband Dan) wrote this blog post about the strong ties she and her family have formed to the Landon community over the past 15 years. Her sons Evan '13 and Charlie '16 are alumni, and her son Josh '22 is a Form I (Grade 8) student.

I have had three children attend Landon, including at least one boy at the school every year since 2002. For that whole time, Landon has been a place that has emphasized working collaboratively to develop our boys into the best young men they can be. As parents, we could not ask for better partners in this endeavor than Landon's teacher-coach-mentors.

For example, the summer after his junior year, my son Charlie had major back surgery. Walt Bartman, who is the Studio Arts Department chair and was Charlie's varsity water polo and swimming coach, called every day and stopped by to check up on Charlie. Charlie never took studio art, but he would come home from school with paint all over his blazer because he was always hanging out in Walt Bartman's art studio during free periods. Walt named Charlie swim team captain and water polo captain because he saw potential in him. You're not going to find that everywhere. The teachers are people that care.

The same is true of Jamie Matthews '04, who was Charlie's J.V. swim coach in 10th grade. Charlie was swimming in a meet and coming in last, and Jamie had the whole team cheering for him. I was in tears because when Charlie got out of the pool, he didn't have to feel like he came in last; he felt like his whole team supported him and cared about him.

When Evan graduated from Landon in 2013, he went to Bucknell, but before junior year decided he wanted to transfer to American University. My husband Dan and I talked with Upper School Counselor Dr. Andy Rhein about whether it was a good idea. Evan had bonded with Dr. Rhein as a peer counselor, and because Andy knew Evan so well, we trusted his advice. He said, "Everyone finds their groove at different times," and Evan found his at American.

Another reason my family loves Landon is the variety of experience that the school offers. I remember being in the Lower School carpool line listening to the handbell ringers practicing and thinking how beautiful it sounded. And then Evan did handbells, Charlie did handbells, and now Josh is doing it. The teachers, coaches and administrators at Landon want you to excel in the classroom and find what you like to do in arts and athletics.

Beyond that, the Landon campus is gorgeous. It's a little slice of heaven in the middle of Bethesda, and it is not just the boys who get to enjoy it. When your son comes to Landon, you are part of the community too. I have been involved in some way for the past 15 years, whether as a room parent, making chocolates for the Greens Sale, or now as LMA chair — and the best part is the people I have met and the friendships I have made. My friends who have kids at other schools ask me, "Why are you always at Landon?" And it is because I want to be here.

We have had an incredible time at Landon, we are having an incredible time here... and we still have five more years left.