Deesha Philyaw

"I believe in the difference WT makes in my children's lives, and in the local community and beyond.”

Deesha Philyaw

“I am unapologetically a cheerleader for WT,” declares Deesha Philyaw with her signature warmth and unabashed enthusiasm. “I’m raising daughters who have different personalities, strengths, needs, and learning styles, and yet, they have both been nurtured and challenged at WT. As a parent, I can’t ask for more.”

Eight years ago, Philyaw and her then-husband, fellow WT parent Michael Thomas, embarked on a search for the right school for their daughter Taylor, now a member of the Class of 2017. “One of the factors in our decision-making was diversity. But for us, this wasn’t a numbers game; black faces in the hallways didn’t address the concerns we had. We wanted to be confident that the school environment we chose for our kids would be a welcoming one that affirmed and celebrated differences in meaningful ways. We found that environment at WT.”

Since then, Taylor’s younger sister Peyton has enrolled at WT as a member of the Class of 2022, and Philyaw’s satisfaction with WT has only increased.

“I was…nervous about Taylor entering Middle School, “admits Philyaw. “It’s such a pivotal time for kids, academically and socially. But…she had an awesome year. And the Middle School faculty and staff ushered her into this greater independence that she was eager for. By the end of the year…she took full ownership of her schedule, time management, and academic progress. Her teachers raised the bar, and she rose to meet it.

“Peyton adored both her first grade and kindergarten teachers, Caley Svensson and Randi Coffey. Mrs. Svensson’s warmth, patience, and humor helped Peyton navigate the new challenges that first grade brought. Peyton enjoyed such a great connection with Mrs. Svensson…that immediately after we heard Peyton’s baby sister (her dad and stepmom’s daughter) had been born, she had me text Mrs. Svensson to share the good news.

Philyaw’s dedication to WT reflects her belief in the school and its mission. She serves on the Board of Trustees and chairs a Task Force on Generative Thinking as part of her role on the Strategic Planning Committee. She joined the Board in 2010 after serving for two years as Parents Association President, a role for which she was tapped because of her strong commitment and dedication to the school as a Lower School coordinator and volunteer.

“The Board is charged with being good stewards of the school, with undertaking strategic planning for the school, and with thinking broadly and about the future of the school,” says Philyaw. “This is a big responsibility and challenge that I’m happy to take on because I believe in the difference WT makes in my children’s lives, and in the local community and beyond.

“When parents bring their personal and professional passions and their hearts for service into the classrooms…our children’s school experience is enhanced. Beyond that, we’re also modeling volunteerism and what it means to be part of a community to our children. (Furthermore), the work of parent volunteers sends a message to the larger community that WT is not a place where parents just drop their kids off every morning; we’re fully invested in the life of the school.

For Philyaw, the investment is long-term…and heart-felt.

“I’ll never stop volunteering at WT, because of my commitment to the school and its future,” she proclaims. “I’m aware of the myriad ways I can still give back and make a difference, large and small, even once my children graduate. I’ll probably be reading with the second graders when I’m an empty nester!”

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