On March 6, Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers was transformed for Gaynor Gala 2018. The theme, “A Time to Shine,” highlighted the importance of, and Stephen Gaynor School’s commitment to, the performing arts.
After a robust silent auction while guests mingled over cocktails, everyone headed in for the main event. Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor welcomed everyone, and began by thanking 2018 Gala Co-Chairs Aly Organek and Marcy Sakhai. Along with the Auction Committee parent volunteers, Aly and Marcy worked tirelessly for months to prepare for the event, and as Dr. Gaynor said, “practically moved in to Gaynor” in order to ensure the Gala was a success.
Dr. Gaynor highlighted the importance of the evening’s theme. He said, “The arts are a critical component of our program at Gaynor. We strongly believe that when children have the opportunity to find success in the arts, they build the confidence and resilience necessary to tackle things that are difficult for them in the classroom.” He continued, “We simply want to have exceptional programing and facilities for the arts that match our commitment to reading, writing, math and science. Our new Performing Arts Center, currently under construction and partially funded, will include a new music room, drama space and 300 seat state-of-the-art theater. With your support tonight, we can help get this space completed. Our children deserve the chance to shine on stage.”
Former President of the Board of Trustees and current Trustee Henrietta Jones was honored with the Founders’ Key Award for her dedication and leadership. Gaynor Trustee and alumni parent Carol Feinberg joined Dr. Gaynor at the podium to present the award. The Founders’ Key Award represents the work and foresight of Gaynor co-founders Dr. Miriam Michael and Yvette Siegel-Herzog, two visionaries who built a school around a simple, yet powerful, concept of unlocking the potential of each child.
Henrietta Jones, this year’s recipient, embodies these values and helped champion this cause through her leadership as Gaynor’s board president for six years and as a current board member. Dr. Gaynor highlighted just a few of Jones’ accomplishments: “Henrietta shepherded our school through unprecedented growth. She oversaw the doubling of the student body and faculty; orchestrated the development of our new South Building with Early Childhood program, Middle School, STEM and science labs, art studios, athletic field and soon a Performing Arts Center; and she created a board and administrative structure that upholds best practices.”
Describing Jones as “elegant, philanthropic, and always leading with her heart,” Dr. Gaynor said, “In her tenure as chair of the board, she allowed us to reach more families, but also maintained and might I say enhanced the quality of services we bring to children. We are a much better school because of Henrietta.”
Dr. Gaynor then welcomed the hosts for the evening, Gaynor parents Mark Ruffalo and Barbara Corcoran. Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and star of Shark Tank, described her struggles growing up with dyslexia. Mark Ruffalo, actor and activist, focused on the transformational effect the school has had on his three children, and led the audience in a standing ovation for Gaynor’s faculty and staff.
After a video presentation highlighting the importance of performing arts, Gaynor students Aly, Remy, and Zia took the stage and brought the house down with a beautiful and moving rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Thanks to Gaynor teachers Andrea Patti and Brendan Stackhouse for working with the students so they could shine onstage.
This year’s live auctioneer was Lydia Fenet of Christie’s. The attendees warmed to her style and grace, and donated generously during the live auction. Between the silent auction and live auction, well over $1 million was raised.
A highlight of the evening was a performance by Tony Award-nominee and Broadway actress and singer Phillipa Soo. Soo spoke of the incredible power of the performing arts and everything they’ve given her: of course, her career, but also her best friends, colleagues, and her husband. Soo began with “Times Are Hard for Dreamers” from her starring turn in Broadway’s Amelie. She then performed “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods, and segued seamlessly into a beautiful rendition of “Dear Theodosia” from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, in which she starred. She closed the evening with Frank Sinatra’s, “Dream (When You’re Feeling Blue).”
We would like to sincerely thank all of our generous sponsors, especially Fariba Secret Events for their donation of the beautiful floral centerpieces. Thank you to all of our community members, individuals and businesses alike, who supported Stephen Gaynor School and Gaynor Gala 2018. Click here to view the digital ads.
Photos: Brett Deutsch Photography