By Shalene France Gray, USNA Volunteer CoordinatorI’m Shalene France Gray, Volunteer Coordinator for the 2019-2020 USNA Executive Board. My goal for this school year is to introduce you to some of the incredible folks who devote their time to USNA as volunteers, shed a light on the many volunteer opportunities available to you, and ultimately, encourage you to join us.
When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I jumped right into my first volunteering opportunity by serving as one of the room parents for her class. My second opportunity wasn’t far behind, as during the winter holiday celebration, two women burst into my daughter’s classroom and strong-armed me into becoming a step-up chair for POPclectic. Ok, “burst” and “strong-armed” are strong verbs, and while not exactly what happened, they make for a more colorful story; and now I digress.
One of these two women was Anna Cramer, volunteer extraordinaire. Like many of our super volunteers, Anna has worn a number of USN volunteering hats (too numerous to mention) since her oldest daughter Caroline '22 started USN as a kindergartner 11 years ago. Anna is not only a reliable volunteer but also an excellent ambassador for USNA, always looking for new blood to join the ranks. See “strong-armed” in the first paragraph.
Like me, Anna got her start as a Room Parent. She said it was a doable start to volunteering at USN, as she still had two kiddos at home in diapers. Those kiddos, who are now well-beyond diapers, also attend USN: Lucy '24 and Alice '28. As a parent with children in Lower, Middle, and High Schools, Anna is the lucky recipient of all three division publications each week.
Anna’s first few years of volunteering at USN revolved around the Lower School. Once all three of her daughters were enrolled, she branched out by serving the Middle and High Schools as well. While Anna has done everything including acting as Room Parent to Co-Chairing Fall Book Frenzy, I got the sense that one of her favorite roles thus far was serving on the Lower School Hospitality Committee. This committee has the honor of planning the revered tradition of Grandparents & Special Friends' Day each year.
“Watching the faces of the grandparents light up as they watch their grandchildren on the floor of the Sperling Gym singing ‘Let There Be Peace on Earth’ will melt anyone’s heart,” she said.
Side note, as this article is scheduled to be published on Grandparent’s Day 2019, I’m hoping that those of you new to USN (with kiddos in grades K-4) made it through without too many tears. I think they really should hand out tissues upon entry. If you missed the big day or never attended one of these incredible celebrations, I won’t give away any of the GPSF Day secrets, but seriously Music Teacher Doni Princehorn, you had me at “Turkey Trot.” (Parent’s Day was Monday, November 25, and Grandparent & Special Friend’s Day is 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 26). Thanks so much to Doni, Anna, and the entire Lower School Hospitality Committee for another great year.
Anna is an attorney by trade and served as a prosecutor in Washington, D.C. before moving to Nashville with her husband, Phil, where they chose to ultimately raise their family. When not “Uber-ing” her daughters around, Anna loves to read, listen to podcasts and do yoga (though perhaps not all at the same time). The Cramers also love to travel and have taken their girls on many journeys around the world. Next school year, Anna and fellow USN parent Joanna Hall will take the reigns as co-presidents of the USNA Board. Anna and Joanna have served as co-chairs many times before, and have a great working relationship as a result. They’re both looking forward to continuing that partnership by serving together next year.
To learn more about available volunteering opportunities, you can read their descriptions and can complete the volunteer sign-up form here
The next monthly USNA meeting is the annual Holiday Coffee and is open to all. It will be on at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, December 18 in the Gordon Multipurpose Room. We do hope you’ll join us.