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Engaging families

Apr 11, 2014
by Laura Smith

Kim and Jon Wheeler’s son, Price, had his sights set on a different college. But when Price took a spur-of-the-moment trip from his home state of Virginia to visit Flagler College during his senior year of high school, he took just a few steps around campus and turned to his mom: “This is it,” he said. 

The die was cast, and when Price arrived at Flagler to begin his first semester, his parents found themselves looking for opportunities to stay engaged and share in his college experiences. 
 
After speaking with other parents who felt the same way, Kim approached the Office of Institutional Advancement with plans to create the Parents Leadership Council, a group of current Flagler parents who volunteer to serve renewable one-year terms and who work together to facilitate opportunities for parents to become involved in the life of the College. 
 
In the five years since its inception, members of the Leadership Council have had an important impact on parent engagement at the College through annual gifts of $1,000 or greater, volunteer work and counsel to administration and staff. Members serve as ambassadors of Flagler College and help develop resources that support the Flagler experience for all students. Council members host events, enhance relationships, provide contacts for other Flagler parents, and work to stimulate participation in Family Weekend.
 
“The Leadership Council can mean different things to different families,” explained Kim Wheeler, the council’s founder and former co-chair. “It’s a great way to feel connected and feel that you are sharing your child’s college experiences. You have shared associations that you both enjoy.” 
 
Now that Price has graduated and accepted a position with an investment banking firm in New York City, the Wheelers look back at their experiences with great fondness. 
 
“I feel like it gave us first-hand access to the culture of Flagler,” she said. “We grew our network of friends through our association with other families, and we had more opportunities to share the experiences of our son. It is a great community of parents.”
 
The council — which currently consists of 15 families — is co-chaired by Bill and Molly Hughes, whose daughter Kelsey graduated in 2013 and whose son, Chipper, will graduate this year. 
 
“Flagler College is an institution that truly cares about its students and its parents, and the Parents Leadership Council demonstrates this,” said Bill Hughes. “It’s an honor to be a part of it. The council allows us to see our children’s college experience through our own eyes, and more importantly, to experience it through our own hearts.”
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