The Winsor School
A leading school for academically promising girls in grades 5-12

Donor Stories

Emily Smith Magruder '03

The Joy of Giving: Emily Smith Magruder'03

“We’ve reached a time in history where women are taking the lead to support their own institutions,” Emily Smith Magruder ’03 reflects. Looking at trends in charitable giving across society, “I see more and more women stepping up.”

This fall Emily stepped up for Winsor. She’s the youngest of 17 Alumnae Challengers who together have pledged $3 million to match campaign gifts from their peers.

When invited to be a Challenger, she thought back to her Winsor teachers. “They taught me to stand up for what I believe in,” she says. “And I believe very strongly in Winsor.”

She trusts her classmates feel strongly, too, and will follow her lead. Thinking about her circle of Winsor friends, she says, “there’s not a single day when we don’t reference some experience.”

For Emily, the lessons in being “generous minded” pre-date Winsor. “It’s something that I grew up around,” she says. Early on, “my family instilled the idea of giving generously.” She feels fortunate—and inspired by a sense that “those who’ve been so fortunate have a responsibility to pass it on.”

Donna and Chris Hoffman P'88, '89

Donna and Chris Hoffman P'88, '89

It was Winsor reputation for academic excellence that initially drew Donna and Chris Hoffman to perfect fit for their family. And indeed it was. Kristen ‘88 and Jenny ’89 thrived during their years at Winsor. “They both just felt so comfortable. They worked so hard and had very long days but it just was a very caring environment,” Donna remembers fondly.

Chris adds, “the academics were unparalleled. And still are. The program was well-rounded, both academically and with the arts, theater, and sports. And the teaching has always been excellent. They couldn’t have received a better education.”

The Hoffman’s association with the school did not end with the girls’ graduation. “Both girls had a very tight knit group of friends,” Donna recalls. “Even today, many of their closest friends are from Winsor. And we had our friends there as well. So when the girls graduated, we were proud to support the school and stay involved. To this day, we respect what Winsor stands for. The people, the teachers, the administration, the whole community works so well together.”

Their support has taken many forms over the years, from being a field trip chaperone and a Auction Co-Chair to supporting the Annual Fund and now the Promise Campaign. “For us it’s about being grateful,” says Chris. ”We always felt, and still feel, Winsor gave so much to our girls and has allowed them to be so successful that we want to help the school.”

And now Donna and Chris have an additional link to the school. Their granddaughter, Julia, is a member of the Class of 2022. “It’s such a joy to relive Winsor, this time through Julia’s eyes,” remarks Donna. “It’s exciting to go to a game and to see her on the field participating, to meet her friends, to meet the parents of her friends, some of whom knew OUR daughters. That connection is really special.”

As past parents and grandparents, the Hoffmans are in a unique position to appreciate the changes on campus. “ It’s different watching as a grandparent,” says Donna. “We have a deeper understanding of what Julia’s gaining, of where a Winsor education can take her. The new building seems so luxurious, but the learning hasn’t changed. That’s the core of Winsor. We’re proud to support that. We know it will serve Julia well, just as it did our daughters”

Chris agrees, “more than anything our support is a reflection of our gratitude for what’s taken place, for what Winsor has meant to both our daughters, and now for what the school means to our granddaughter.”

Patsy Perrin Lawrence '46, P'72

Staying True: Patsy Perrin Lawrence '46, P'72

As a young Winsor student, “I used to sit in the front row of my sister Joan’s performances and become tearful,” recalls Patsy Perrin Lawrence ’46, P’72. “She was that good.”

“I think Joan was in every Winsor production while she was a student,” Patsy adds. “Miss Cunningham was our drama teacher at the time. She had a way of making everyone’s talent shine through.”

Alumnae have supported the Promise campaign in record numbers and for many different reasons. For Patsy and husband Bob Lawrence P’72, a campaign gift is a perfect way to honor Patsy’s sister, Joan Perrin Wood ’42.

Through their generosity, the Theater Alcove on the second floor of the Lubin-O’Donnell Center will be dedicated to Joan. “The alcove is especially appropriate,” Patsy notes, “because it connects the old and the new spaces. It is a perfect transition between past and present. And it’s next to the theater. Joan always loved the theater.”

As the Winsor yearbook editors remarked when Joan played the Shrew in the Shakespeare production of The Taming of the Shrew, “we never thought one so good-natured could work up such a temper on the stage.” Patsy was less surprised and says, “It’s because my sister was such a superb actress!”

For Patsy, the opportunity to make a gift in honor of someone so dear to her has strengthened an already deep affection for the school. “I have always been proud to be associated with Winsor,” she reflects. It’s wonderful for her to see a new generation of girls who feel as passionately about the theater as Joan did.

“Winsor,” she concludes, “has stayed true to what is important and is giving these girls everything they need to shine.”

Susan Alexander and Jim Gammill P'03, '05, '08

Susan Alexander and Jim Gammill P'03, '05, '08

What type of girl is a Winsor girl? Susan Alexander and Jim Gammill know as well as anyone that there is more than one answer to that question. The parents of 3 Winsor graduates, Caroline ’03, Margaret ’05, and Lydia ’08, they will tell you that each needed, and got, something different from the school. Susan spoke about her daughters in a speech at the Class VIII Dinner in the winter of Caroline’s senior year - their eldest Caroline craved structure, their “dramatic” middle daughter Margaret also adored chemistry and computer science, and their youngest daughter Lydia sampled many of the extracurriculars that Winsor had to offer "How did this one school manage to inspire and bring out the best in such different girls," Susan asked. "Respect. Winsor respects our daughters for their intellect, their humanity and their individual talents. Winsor revealed and developed in each of them talents, interests and skills that neither they nor we imagined existed.”

And that, in turn, encouraged Susan and Jim to stay connected and involved. “It is a community we are proud to be a part of,” remarked Jim recently. “We have tremendous respect for the faculty, the administration, the trustees. What Winsor has been able to accomplish with the Promise Campaign is remarkable. The world has changed a great deal since 1994 when we started at Winsor. And Winsor reflects and embraces those changes in a healthy way. The Promise Campaign is laying the foundation for whatever the future is going to bring, both at the school and globally. It’s generational renewal. Our daughters were the beneficiaries of the foresight and generosity of previous generations. We are happy to do the same for the next generation.”

George and Andy Leonard Macomber '47

George and Andy Leonard Macomber '47

When Andy Leonard Macomber ’47 reflects on her Winsor years, she thinks first of how she “loved the theater productions.” Drama teacher Miss Cunningham “brought out the best in everybody.” Never shy about being on stage, “I just loved the way they got everyone involved,” she says. “It was teamwork. I loved the teamwork.”

When it comes to philanthropy, Andy and husband George are a “team.”

The Macombers stepped up together as the early leaders in the Winsor Promise campaign. They relished the opportunity to join a tour of the construction site early on, especially George, who led his own construction firm and was an active part of past Winsor building projects as a trustee.

To them, the Winsor Promise goes beyond the building. “The campaign is important because the women of Winsor are important,” George asserts. To him, Winsor alumnae and students represent intelligent, open, active people. Why have they supported Winsor so generously? “It’s a very active and progressive place, and anything that we can do to help the school we’re happy to do.”

Looking to the building and campaign, Andy appreciates the way Winsor has embraced its past and future. She notes how the traditional façade will stay “just the way it is.” The original 1910 building is “solid, like all the people back in the beginning.” The newly constructed spaces reflect “the bright, open feeling of the new.”

She clearly appreciates her own Winsor education and its influence in shaping her life and her values. Her teachers were almost second parents for her. “I owe my life to them,” she says. The faculty prepared her exceptionally well for college at Smith. At both schools, “I learned that it was a gifted teacher that makes everything come alive.”

It was also at Winsor, she adds, that “I learned to be very comfortable in the city.” She learned to fight for a good bleacher seat at Red Sox games on Friday afternoons, pocket radio in hand. She learned the trolley stops and neighborhoods. After college, she led a Girl Scout troop in Dudley Square, embarking on a lifetime of service and advocacy for the city’s children.

When she looks at why she and George have given to Winsor, she frames it in terms of the city that she loves. “It’s remaining a city school, and it’s getting more and more kids from a variety of city backgrounds.” She has faith that Winsor will be a source of the leaders that, to her, Boston needs for its own future.

To Andy, it’s wonderful to see both alumnae and parents giving at unprecedented levels to the campaign—and being vocal and visible in their support. “In my era, and still, people are very modest about their contributions,” she reflects. “I’m not sure that’s always helpful. I think it’s good to show you back something, and you have real faith in where it’s going.”

Francesca Morgan '86

Francesca Morgan '86

Although she is a history professor, Francesca Morgan ’86 spends as much time looking forward as she does backward, especially when it comes to supporting Winsor. “I cannot capture in words all that my teachers at Winsor did for me—as a student and as an individual,” she says. “Not only did our teachers cajole the very best out of us so we grew to be well-educated, thought-provoking young women, but they also fostered in us a confidence that serves us well in life and in careers where women are still sometimes treated like imposters.”

Francesca teaches the history of women and gender in America. “I think often about what’s been denied to girls and women in history, how many geniuses were lost,” she says. “And today, I see in some of my students at Northeastern Illinois University—undocumented citizens, veterans on the GI Bill, and the first generation in their families to attend college—a lifetime of denied opportunities because of their financial or class status. I think it is our responsibility to fight the growing class divide in our country and to give people, especially young girls, academic opportunities. That is why I give to Winsor every year, earmarking my gifts for financial aid.” With her characteristic foresight, Francesca also has included Winsor in her estate plans.

There is something about being in high-level classes, surrounded by other girls, led by teachers striving for excellence in their students, that helps transform the wobbly-legged foals of fifth, seventh, ninth graders into strong, outspoken women ready for college and the world. “When I look back at Winsor, there were certain teachers—like Mrs. Souvaine and Ms. Knowles—who excited me academically, but who were also there for me during some rough years. What a gift.”

In taking the time to learn more about the far-reaching goals of the Promise campaign, Francesca says she has been thrilled to get to know more about “modern day Winsor.” Catching up with a Winsor staff member during a visit to Chicago, she asked about 21st century learning, the Classics department, and about the school’s commitment to all students, no matter their background, cultural mores, or sexuality.

“I feel strongly that Winsor continue to be a diverse place where fostering critical and creative thinking is paramount,” she says. “We were incredibly lucky to have had the Winsor experience, why not do what we can to give other girls a shot at such an education, especially those who might not come by the opportunity easily?”

F. Warren McFarlan P'92

F. Warren McFarlan P'92

In an eight, the coxswain is in command of the shell at all times. Small of stature but powerful of voice, will, and heart, the cox is responsible for steering the boat and coordinating the rhythm and power of the eight rowers. Elizabeth McFarlan Scott ’92 was a cox for the Winsor rowing team, starting in Class IV. In Class VII, she rowed for a Boston team which won gold in the US Rowing Junior Nationals.

“Crew gave Elizabeth focus, teamwork, and resilience under pressure,” says her father, F. Warren McFarlan, the Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. “These skills have served her well; her career as vice president of Human Resources at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco is based on what she learned in the classroom and on the river. Winsor was the perfect place for her.”

His daughter is not the only woman in his family to attend Winsor. Before her, Mr. McFarlan’s mother, Ethel Warren McFarlan ’26 and his sister, Ethel McFarlan Hamann ’58 spent those often transformative secondary school years on Pilgrim Road. “We’ve had someone attending Winsor under three of its seven heads of school,” he says. And although his grandchildren are boys and will not bring another generation of family to Winsor, the McFarlans’ involvement in the school will continue to make a mark.

Mr. McFarlan served two terms on the Winsor School Board, and he and his wife have been generous donor for many years. They made a significant gift to make Winsor’s boathouse possible, and have included Winsor in their estate plans.

“Philanthropy is a life-long endeavor, and I believe strongly in the importance of education,” he says. Mr. McFarlan has spent 37 consecutive years on secondary school boards, including Winsor’s board and that of Milton Academy, his alma mater. “Philanthropy is the absolute life blood of a non-profit. Without securing financial giving, the physical and curricular backbones of the school cannot stand tall; you cannot expand on and grow the programs and facilities that set your school apart.” Mr. McFarlan even wrote a book called Joining a Nonprofit Board: What You Need to Know to help board members of nonprofit organizations achieve an organization’s overarching mission, attain financial sustainability, and develop and execute the systems needed to accomplish both.

Being an ambassador and champion of Winsor for more than 25 years is incredibly important to Mr. McFarlan. “Giving is a tangible way to say thank you to all that Winsor has given to our family,” he says. Like the eight rowers and their coxswain, each member of the boat has to do her part to win the race.

Hilary Bacon Gabrieli '78, P'13, '15, '16

Hilary Bacon Gabrieli '78, P'13, '15, '16,

I sincerely believe that Winsor is producing the leaders of the next generation, that among these girls are future Presidents and Justices of the Supreme Court. They have the intellect; they have the passion; they have the sense of duty. And we’ll be a better place for it. Better decisions are made when women are part of the process. But in order for that to happen, they have to be heard. It’s crucial that we teach our girls to speak up.

And Winsor is doing that so successfully. I think girls leave Winsor with a confidence and a voice that perhaps their peers don’t have.

We’ve always been a family that has tried to show our children through word and deed how important it is to give back to your community. Supporting Winsor and the Promise Campaign is a natural extension of that. A Winsor education is a privilege, a privilege that comes with responsibility.

My daughter Polly said it so beautifully, I think, in her Hemmenway speech. She said, ‘Because of my privilege, I have the opportunity to do whatever I want to do, to be whoever I want to be, to make a difference in the world...Use your privilege to be the change you want to see in the world, so that the next generation [can have] a more level playing field. That privilege is a gift, so let’s use it.’

Lee Thorndike Sprague '58

Lee Thorndike Sprague '58

It wasn’t until I went off to college that I truly began to appreciate what an outstanding education I had received at Winsor, and how rare that was for a woman at that time. My Winsor education was a wonderful, well-rounded experience. Where did I get my education? I really got it at Winsor.

As I’ve been involved as an alumna, as a Trustee and as a Member of the Corporation, I’ve had the pleasure to see multiple generations attend Winsor and serve on the Board - mothers, daughters, granddaughters. I want that to continue. And the Promise Campaign is helping to make that possible. With the Promise Campaign, we are keeping Winsor vibrant for future generations. Striving to give Winsor girls the best that is possible - the best teachers, the best classes, the best extracurriculars and facilities - has always been what Winsor is about.

Andrew Compaine P'20

Andrew Compaine P'20

I feel so grateful that we landed in this place. My daughter is loved and known, 360 degrees. To me the magic of Winsor comes from way it takes on the task of raising the whole child. The girls are given the incentives and the support they need to grow. And, at the same time they are given the freedom and the independence to take ownership for that growth and experience the joy of it. Winsor produces girls with a clear identity and sense of self; emotionally confident young women who are able to navigate the world and speak with an authentic voice. I cannot emphasize enough how important that is, not just for me as a father, but for society.

I am so proud of Winsor. I have such a love for it and a deep, deep respect for its mission and its accomplishments. Somehow, it’s current facilities don’t accurately reflect all that the school is. To me, the Promise Campaign and the Lubin-O’Donnell Center are like external manifestations of the school’s heart, a reaffirmation of it’s mission and it’s place in Boston. It is truly an institution I look forward to being associated with for my whole life.

I feel such profound gratitude for Winsor and all it has given and continues to give my daughter. She is the beneficiary of those who preceded us and that instills in me a desire, and I think a responsibility, to give back for those who come after us.

Meredith Benedict '88

Meredith Benedict '88

Winsor has been a touchstone for me in my life. Whenever I come back there is always something I connect with - a classmate or a teacher or a panel I attend. There is always something that helps me reframe what I might be trying to accomplish personally or professionally and reconnects me with a higher idealism and sense of purpose.

I feel that is something uniquely Winsor that has stayed with me - that question of what kind of woman are you going to be in the world, how do you contribute, how do you use your intelligence and your character and your voice to make your community and the broader world a better place?

It is important to me as an alumna to be part of the Promise Campaign, part of the legacy that we are building for the future. I hope that we look back as a result of this Campaign and see that people are really engaged as donors, that the Promise Campaign has catalyzed people to think differently about how the school fits into their long-term priorities. Even though my contribution is not huge, I wanted to make a gift that was a stretch for me as a personal testament to what Winsor means to me.

I just have this sense that Winsor’s role in my life isn’t over.

Claire Pasternack Goldsmith '01

Claire Pasternack Goldsmith '01

To me, the Promise Campaign is about honoring Winsor’s past and ensuring its future. It literally and figuratively cements Winsor in the city of Boston and in the landscape of girls’ education. It allows the school to continue to do what is, I think, uniquely Winsor - create an environment where girls can be exuberant about their learning, ask questions, take risks, and push the intellectual envelope. Winsor unlocks the minds of girls who are studious and curious and turns them into lifelong learners.

I feel such a personal connection and such a deep feeling of gratitude toward Winsor. More than any other place, this is where I learned who I was. I was celebrated and nourished and challenged and supported every step of the way. I have seen what the best student-teacher relationships can be and what the best classroom cultures can be. I have lived the gold standard. And when you’re given the most incredible gift you just need to give back.