Steigerwalt Family Values Student Connections Within PD Community

For families relocating to Charlotte, selecting the right school probably seems like being on a roller coaster — full of ups and downs, twists and turns — a journey that is at once equally terrifying and thrilling. Yet when the ride is over, there’s a feeling of euphoria having successfully (and safely) arrived at the station.

The Steigerwalt family had their own roller coaster experience, but in a slightly different way.

During their one-day admissions visit to Providence Day in December 2012, parents Jennifer and Eric understood how important it would be for their children, Kyle and Clare, to feel accepted and welcomed. They would be entering PD as 10th and 7th graders, respectively, and were equally interested in finding a place where they would fit in, make friends, and enjoy being on campus.

“It’s not like you walk into Middle School and everybody gives you a hug. Same with Upper School. You’re the new kid,” explained Jennifer.

The switch to a new school during such developmentally- and socially-challenging times can be daunting for students, and perhaps even more so for parents. Yet it was a conversation about roller coasters, of all things, that helped calm their fears.

Then Middle School Head Sam Caudill had a lengthy talk with Clare, who was understandably apprehensive and worried about how it would go. According to Jennifer, the two of them ended up discussing roller coasters more than Providence Day, and found an immediate kinship in the anticipation of riding one and the experience afterwards.

The value of that unique one-on-one conversation, and its impact on a very impressionable young woman, was priceless. “He made Clare feel welcome and safe,” said Eric.

It was that personal connection — adult to adolescent, teacher to student — which provided a glimpse into the future that each of their children would have at Providence Day.

The Steigerwalts consistently remark on the individualized attention and care given to their kids by faculty, advisors, and coaches. They believe those relationships, and the bonds forged, helped develop in Clare and Kyle a sense of worth and an understanding of who they were as young adults and nascent global citizens.

In giving to the CHARGING forward campaign, Eric and Jennifer characterize their philanthropy as something both general and specific. They believe in the long-term vision for the school, and at the same time, are honoring their family’s experience as members of the Charger community.

“We’re recognizing the unbelievable contribution that some of the people we’ve gotten to know — the incredible, intangible contributions they’ve made to our kids’ lives,” said Eric.

“You have to invest in the future,” said Jennifer. “Our decision to give to the campaign is truly a ‘pay it forward’ sentiment so that other families can enjoy the ride.”

Jennifer and Eric want to see Providence Day remain competitive in the marketplace. They are pleased that the school is investing in both capital projects and growing the endowment. Yet they recognize the real impact of the CHARGING forward campaign is a little more open-ended than successfully raising $27 million.

Both are all smiles as they excitedly contemplate the initiative’s potential to positively influence the lives of thousands of kids over the next several decades.

Eric and Jennifer are the proud parents of Kyle ‘16 and Clare ‘19.