Established in Honor of Linda Northrop 1953–2013
“If you asked twenty people to say one sentence about Linda, all twenty would say, ‘the kindest person I’ve ever met.’”
In 2014, Country Day was fortunate to see the creation of an award for faculty and staff in honor of Linda Northrop, a beloved former GCDS parent, who died in 2013, following a courageous fight with cancer. In May 2014, the inaugural Linda Northrop Faculty/Staff Character Award was presented at the APPLE Appreciation Luncheon by two of Linda’s children, Heather ’00 and Kent ’05, and her husband, Rick Northrop. [Ginger ’02 was unable to attend the luncheon.]
Rick spoke of Linda’s character and why she would have wanted an endowment like this at Country Day. Linda “was a GCDS parent for fifteen years, and I can say, unequivocally, that those fifteen years were the best fifteen years of her life.” In the months preceding her passing, the family had discussed a possible “in lieu of flowers” donation, and Linda knew that she wanted that money to go to Greenwich Country Day.
The Northrop family met with Headmaster Adam Rohdie to explore potential funding opportunities, and they expressed their desire to create an award in Linda’s name that would be “given annually in honor of Linda Northrop to that member of the faculty or staff whose character and kindness as a teacher, friend, and role model reflect the qualities that Linda so cherished about GCDS.”
The family was overwhelmed with donations, resulting in just over $100,000 to be put toward the grant. As a result, the Northrop family has generously created a yearly award of $5,000 for the faculty or staff member chosen to receive it. Half of the stipend is for the recipient, and half is to be used at the discretion of the recipient to enrich the Country Day community.
When selecting the recipient of the inaugural award, Rick expressed the desire that he or she “would be someone who would represent Linda’s character well and, particularly, her kindness.” With that in mind, a committee, comprised of members across all divisions and throughout the school, solicited nominations from the entire GCDS faculty and staff.
At the luncheon, Adam took the opportunity to read some of the comments submitted by colleagues regarding the 2014 recipient. “The impact [she] has had on our students, colleagues, community, and greater world community is remarkable. She will not want this public recognition, but she truly deserves this award,” wrote a faculty member. Said another colleague, “Determining the first recipient of the Linda Northrop Award should really be quite easy. No one models Linda’s selflessness as much as she does.” Then Adam proudly announced Jen Donnalley, Upper School math teacher and community service coordinator, as the first recipient of the Northrop Endowment Award.
Adam was right when he said that the recipient would not want public recognition—when we sat down with Jen, the conversation gravitated around Linda, whom Jen knew well. “She was probably the kindest person I’ve ever met. She was the most supportive Country Day parent that you could ask for,” she said. “That’s just who she was. And she has passed that on to her three children, who are as kind as she was. She was someone I think people do aspire to be more like. It’s great that [her] kids found a way to honor their mom, because she’s definitely someone you want to honor, and she loved this place.”
Greenwich Country Day thanks Linda for those fifteen happy years, and the entire Northrop family and friends for their generosity and recognition. This annual endowment award will be a lasting tribute.