Community Spotlight

Annual Report 2021-2022

Walden families come in many forms and configurations. What they all have in common is this: they are essential to the fabric of our community and the success of Walden's mission. By making Walden a philanthropic and volunteering priority, families are making a powerful impact on our school and modeling for our students that we all have stewardship for the world in which we live

In this Annual Report, we are delighted to share an interview with Walden Board member, supporter, and volunteer Mary Chou.

Mary Chou and the Chou Tsay Family (Mary, Gary, Maggie, and Ryan)

Tell us about your family.

Gary and I both immigrated to Southern California from Taiwan when we were in elementary school. We all love to play tennis and stay active, and also enjoy loafing around the house together. We think it's important to be good people in our community, and to us that means being present, fair, and kind. For our children, we teach them that no matter what they're doing, do it with care and commitment, and do their best work.

When did you join Walden, and why did you first choose Walden for your family?

We joined the Walden community when Maggie enrolled in her first year of Pre-K, in 2013. We wanted to find a school that encouraged her natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. At Walden, we found much more than that - we found a school where teachers spoke to children with respect, heard their voices, and encouraged them individually. The school grounds were beautiful and the staff we engaged with were all so welcoming that we felt instantly at home.
What inspired you to give your time and resources to Walden?

When Maggie was in Pre-K, I volunteered to help with graphic design for the PG Fundraiser. We had just moved to Pasadena and it was such a great way to meet other parents. More than that, I witnessed parents giving their time and talents so generously to the school and having a lot of fun doing it. I was genuinely impressed with their level of commitment and I thought I can definitely do more! 
In which ways have you been involved in the community over the years, and what inspired you to take on a leadership role?

I co-chaired the PG Spring Fundraiser, acted as a class agent, helped at tours, and joined the Board of Trustees. In the past six years that I have been on the Board, I have chaired the Facilities Committee for four. I am an architect, and I am so happy and proud that I can contribute to the school in this way.

What do you value most about Walden?

Walden School believes in teaching the whole child and that is what we value most about this school. Beyond academics, we appreciate that Walden teachers accept the challenge of teaching our children how to be their best selves in our society. Time spent in the Walden classroom with their teachers and classmates on Social Emotional Learning, social justice, and environmental stewardship is critical to our kids' development. 

What do you hope your kids will carry away with them from their Walden education?

Walden is a special place rooted in inclusion and kindness. We hope they carry these practices with them out into the world and spread them among their new friends and communities. The Walden education is committed to genuine learning, rather than external markers of achievement. We hope they continue to seek deeper understanding in their studies, rather than being distracted by grades and scores. 

Any words of encouragement for current and future parents on giving and getting involved at Walden?

Each year, Walden is definitely one of our top three philanthropic priorities. We also encourage our friends and family to support Walden in any way that they can. For many years now, our children's grandparents have given generously to the Walden Fund and it all started with a conversation about how rare it was that this school fully integrates Social Emotional Learning into its daily curriculum. They agreed that it was important work, they saw their grandchildren thriving, and they wanted to help ensure Walden's success now and into the future. Walden introduced us to the joy of giving to our community, in time, talent, and treasure. There are so many ways to give, so you can find one that is specifically fulfilling and convenient for you. And the best part is that if you give by volunteering, you'll get to meet wonderful Walden families through this important work that betters our children's school!