An Interview with the 2017 Gratitude Gala Honoree
Name: Dr. Lisa Grupe
Role: Administrative Director, Alabama Waldorf School
- “Gala” is a word that can be defined in many ways. What is it exactly?
This is our 15th annual fundraiser. So, at a fiscal level, that’s what the gala is: a fundraiser. However, over time it has proven to be such a great PARTY because our community is so unique and enjoys hanging around with like-minded people, bidding on interesting jewelry or art or trips, listening to music, and seeing AWeSome live auctions.
Our first gala was a silent and live auction featuring vintage wines and art, and it has stayed true to its roots in that it remains a silent and live auction, but it now features artwork done by our students under the tutelage of local artists and craftspeople. Last year, our own Julie Carpenter worked with 7th and 8th graders to weld and solder iron into a wall sculpture of the outline of the state of Alabama! It was 3 feet tall and was beautiful! This year, Paul Wilm painted the bust of Vulcan on a wooden canvas with the word “BIRMINGHAM” above it, and the 1st graders helped him color it with crayon!
We are fortunate to also have accomplished local artists such as Arthur Price, Tres Taylor, and Gerda Carmichael. This year’s theme is GRATITUDE, and our own Leslie Martin Smith of Mud Mama Designs is working on a special project in which everyone will take part. I’ll put on my teacher hat and give you some homework for the project: Think about what you are grateful for at Alabama Waldorf School and come to the Gala on Sat, Feb 25 at 6 pm!
- Who goes to the Gala? What do people wear? How much does it cost?
I hope everybody comes! There really is something for everyone there. From cute items to bid on under $20 to fabulous adult camaraderie! Everyone in the AWS community is invited to the Gala, and it is great if our parent body and faculty ask their friends to come, too. It’s open to everyone!
Keeping tickets affordable, even though this is an annual $28,000 fundraiser for the school, is important to the Marketing Committee who plans the gala. Tickets remain $40 per person this year, but if you sell 4 to friends outside the school, you get a 5th ticket for free! Tickets include 2 drinks (beer and wine), entertainment by DJ Supreme (parent Jon Malone), hors d’oeuvres by dg (local chef and AWS parent Daniel Briggs). You can buy additional drink tickets and any items you win through bidding. Student accounts can be charged so parents can pay for everything on TADS! Credit cards are also accepted.
People wear jeans, cocktail dresses, shirts with ties, shirts with no ties, long dresses, etc. We always tell people to dress festively! Wear something you’ve been dying to wear but haven’t yet had the opportunity. The website at alabamawaldorf.org and our Facebook page have some gala photos from previous years in case you want to take a look.
A tradition that has grown over the years is that our high school and college-aged alumni work the check-in and check-out tables, or they help with special fundraising pop-ups at the Gala. That is my favorite part of the gala … seeing the alum! This year, I’ve invited a bunch of book club friends and out-of-towners, too! I’m so excited!
- Yes … you are the honoree at Alabama Waldorf School’s Annual Gala on Saturday, February 25. What does that mean?
It means I join the illustrious ranks of previous honorees such as founder Sheila Rubin, philanthropist grandparents Stan Lawler and Gerda Carmichael, veteran teachers John Huckestein and Lynda Powell. I am honored to be in such company! But it also means that my achievements in the areas of teaching and administration, accreditation, and obtaining the new building loan with its associated renovation are recognized, and this is very meaningful to me.
I’ve been on a few new journeys in my 17 years at the school, from starting the Grades school, to starting Administrator training, to starting accreditation, to starting down the path of new campus ownership, and I have always had incredible support from the Alabama Waldorf faculty, staff, and community, especially in such a tangible way with the new building. It has been a very galvanizing experience for the whole school, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.