A Gift for Marvelwood's Future

The Marvelwood School is proud to announce and celebrate a $10 million gift to its endowment from Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Byron Smith of Naples, FL.

“This gift,” says Board of Trustees Chair Tim Carpenter ‘71, “is more than a game-changer for our School; it enables us to fulfill our mission, and to continue to inspire our students with the knowledge and spirit that will enable them to leave Marvelwood with a deep sense of confidence and accomplishment, and a desire to continue their journey of learning and contributing in whatever walk of life they choose. We are eternally grateful to Mary and Steve for their generosity and continued support.”

Steve and his wife, Mary, have been actively involved with the School almost since its founding. Steve, a member of the Class of 1959, was named Trustee Emeritus after serving on the Board in the 1980s.  Their extraordinary gift, which will be given over ten years, is the single largest in the School’s 60-year history. The Smiths have asked that this gift be named the “Goodearl and Tacy Endowment Fund,” in recognition of the contribution and leadership of former Heads of School Peter Tacy GP’20 and Arthur F. Goodearl, Jr. who, in their own ways, have sustained the vision that Robert Bodkin started in 1956 when he opened the doors of the School.

   A view of Coltsfoot Mountain from the original campus in Cornwall

As a student, Steve transferred to Marvelwood from “a large Connecticut preparatory school, with a fairly good understanding of mathematics but woefully behind in English skills.” At Marvelwood, Steve found a place designed to “give students such as myself the extra time and attention needed to step into the scholastic mainstream.” Bodkin, the School’s visionary co-founder, first Headmaster, and Steve’s English teacher, gave him the skills and confidence to succeed as a student.  When Steve was a senior, Mary visited him on campus -- in Cornwall at the time -- for a dance, and stayed with Bodkin and his wife Cornelia. Marvelwood has been a part of Steve and Mary’s life together ever since. They remained in contact with the Bodkins after Steve’s graduation and following their retirement from the School in 1980, and visited them at their home on Martha’s Vineyard just before Robert’s passing in 2004.

Steve served on the Board of Trustees during Peter Tacy’s tenure as Headmaster. He recalls watching “as Peter took this small school on a voyage of discovery, joining Round Square, a group of schools from many countries around the world…all promoting democracy, care of the environment, adventure, leadership, and service to the community, while connecting students at yearly conferences, exchanges and service projects.” In 1988, Marvelwood hosted the annual Round Square Conference, which brought delegations of students and teachers from over forty schools around the world to the tiny village of Cornwall. Friends and neighbors throughout the area generously hosted delegates and shared in the extraordinary experience. Mary recalls that she and Steve, who attended the conference, stayed at a house in Lakeville, CT with King Constantine of Greece, one of the founders of Round Square who remains active in the organization.  Under the leadership of Arthur F. Goodearl, Jr., Marvelwood renewed its involvement with Round Square in 2016. This year, Marvelwood will send a delegation of five students and one adult to the annual conference at Ashbury College in Ottawa, Canada.

Steve and Mary hope that their generous gift will encourage others to support the School. “We are enthusiastically making this gift to Marvelwood with a focus on the School’s need to grow its small endowment,” says Steve.  “As we all know, the ongoing needs of every institution become less burdensome with a carefully-tended and growing endowment fund in place. With our gift, we sincerely hope to encourage the Marvelwood ‘family of families’ to join us in ensuring the mission and prosperity of this remarkable school.”

“A significant increase in endowment enables the School to think beyond itself to the possibilities that, before, we could only hope to one day be in a position to imagine,” says Interim Head of School Blythe Everett P’14, ‘16.  “Steve and Mary’s transformational gift has the power to turn Marvelwood's dreams into realities. It reflects their unwavering commitment to supporting the hallmarks of the Marvelwood experience: celebrating a mutual respect and appreciation shared between faculty and students; heeding the call to reach beyond oneself in pursuit of a goal; and embracing a commitment to responsible stewardship and service as a way of life.”

“Marvelwood is very fortunate to have faculty, staff and students who truly love the school,” Steve observes.  “This endowment fund honors them all.”