October 10, 2019

Writing the next chapter for Andover Bread Loaf

Milestone gift fortifies the dynamic language and literacy program

Phillips Academy recently announced a $4 million campaign gift to permanently endow Andover Bread Loaf. This record investment, made by Keith Flaherty ’89, P’23, and wife Mira Kautzky P’23, secures the program’s mission—and enables all future support to fuel ABL’s growth. In the outreach program’s early years, Flaherty was one of the first PA students to mentor schoolchildren in nearby Lawrence, Mass. Nearly three decades later, he returned.

Noisy, pensive, laughing, shy. One child after another took to the mic to share their poetry, writing, or artwork. The big colorful classroom at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence was packed that Saturday in 2017, and the joyful event brought Andover Bread Loaf—its method, its exuberance, its enormous potential—into full focus for Keith Flaherty. This, thought Flaherty, is real.

He should know. Flaherty’s personal history with ABL and longtime director Lou Bernieri dates back to the late 1980s. He and two foot-ball buddies—one of whom was best friend Tim Watt ’89—took a yearlong senior seminar taught by Bernieri. “I didn’t realize it at the time,” says Flaherty, “but Lou used an ABL teaching strategy in that class. And it worked.”

“There were 16 students, and we—three upper-middle-class white guys—were very much in the minority. That turned out to be an incredibly important part of my Andover education,” says Flaherty. With literature as the springboard, the diverse group shared open and honest discussions about their individual backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives on equity, inequity, and social justice. Trust developed. Friendships were formed.

Mike Cahill ’84, John Henry Moulton ’88, and Sturgis Woodberry ’84 established the initial ABL endowment to benefit the outreach program’s groundbreaking work.

“ABL was still an experiment at that time,” says Bernieri, “and Keith was among the first student volunteers I took into Lawrence class-rooms to help get kids amped about writing and self-expression. Right away we could see the electricity in the younger kids—particularly when the older kids, the PA students, worked with them.”

“Tim and I are still best friends, and the lessons learned in that class have stayed with us,” says Flaherty. “He’s the one who tipped me off that there was something really important from my past that I should reconnect with—Lou and ABL.

“As a PA student, I didn’t fully understand how individuals and groups could feel empowered and begin to essentially self-mobilize against systems of oppression and social injustice in their communities. When I saw ABL in action in 2017 and several times since, I could clearly envision the possibilities. And I knew what I had to do.”

Flaherty, a renowned Boston-based oncologist, views Andover Bread Loaf as a model for youth- and community-driven societal change. “Our gift will sustain Lawrence as ABL’s base,” he says. “The inspiring opportunity now is to help the program achieve its maximal nationwide and potentially worldwide impact. For that to happen, others need to see and understand the great work ABL is doing and step forward.” 

Explore more at www.andover.edu/ABLtoday.


Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, summer 2019.

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