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Donor Stories

Chidsey Society

The year 2020 brought different challenges to everyone. For the Sloan Family, in a world of four kids, two jobs, and lots of family time, there was little solitude, a lot of chaos, and much reflection. “We started thinking, if something happened to us, what do we want to leave behind?”
The year 2020 brought different challenges to everyone. For the Sloan Family, in a world of four kids, two jobs, and lots of family time, there was little solitude, a lot of chaos, and much reflection. “We started thinking, if something happened to us, what do we want to leave behind?”

Jonathan and Ashley met in the early 2000s while studying at SMU and were eventually married in 2010. Upon graduation, Ashley and Jonathan, still dating at the time, were considering where to start their married life together. Ashley, a lifelong resident of Dallas, was open to a change. With Jonathan’s interests lying mostly in energy investment banking and a seemingly hot Houston market in 2007, Houston made the most sense for their next step. Since then, Jonathan and Ashley have put down deep roots both in the Houston and St. John’s communities.

As an alumnus of St. John’s himself, a former Alumni Board President, and an avid volunteer for the alumni program, the desire for a St. John’s education for his children was always in the back of Jonathan’s mind. While acknowledging St. John’s has always had a stellar academic reputation, his work with the alumni program confirmed that the School offered much more than just its reputation. Rather, St. John’s “…continues to instill this passion to learn. The curriculum is fast-paced and challenging of course, but the faculty approaches education differently—with the desire to create a lifelong love of learning.”

Today Jonathan and Ashley watch their two eldest children thrive at St. John’s. Despite extracurricular activities often nudging out school work as their children’s favorite pastimes, they can still see curiosity budding and the passion for skills like reading holding true. “That’s the difference-maker between a great institution and a school of St. John’s caliber. Through my time as a student, and then as a volunteer making relationships with alumni of all ages, and now through the eyes of a St. John’s parent, the lifelong love of learning that embodies the St. John’s education has stood the test of time.”

As Jonathan and Ashley began to update their will after the birth of their fourth child, they spent a lot of time thinking about the last year and how the pandemic upended the familiar and, for them, allowed them to focus on what is most important. “St. John’s is our family,” Ashley said simply. As a newcomer to the community that has mostly been Jonathan’s world, she was pleasantly surprised at how welcomed she was. From joining the Quadrangle Club committee to serving in various Parents’ Guild volunteer roles, Ashley immediately felt at home. For Ashley and Jonathan, the most important piece was where their kids felt safe, loved, and supported. “If something were to happen to us, to whom do we entrust our children? What is that community going to be?” Ashley says, “The answer was easy: family, friends, and St. John’s.”

In fact, Jonathan and Ashley quip that after making provisions for their children, leaving St. John’s in their new will was actually the easiest decision they had to make. “We knew that this community would embrace our children, so we wanted to leave something behind to help the School in a small way in appreciation for the ways the School has already helped us. Over time, we’ve thought about the organizations that impact our family the most, and without a doubt, that organization is St. John’s. Our kids spent more time in those walls than they do our own.”

Furthermore, as they have become more involved at St. John’s, they’ve seen first hand the impact that philanthropy can have at St. John’s and in Houston. While Jonathan and Ashley feel that the move to Houston was an easy decision, they recognized it was so easy because Houston is thriving. The diversity of industry and people, the warm-welcoming attitudes, and the availability of top-notch education allows Houston to be one of the best cities in the world. By making St. John’s a part of their annual giving plan through donating appreciated securities and now leaving a legacy gift with a simple update of their will, Ashley and Jonathan feel “like we are doing our small part to help St. John’s not only just for our family, but for the whole community in a really easy, but meaningful way.”

As their children grow, they are able to appreciate more every day the breadth of their talents and capabilities. St. John’s is prepared to embrace those unique differences, which is just one reason Ashley and Jonathan have chosen to leave their gift unrestricted. Jonathan recalls, ”I once heard the Director of Admission talk about ’glue kids’, meaning kids that may not excel in one particular area, but still provide an important contribution to the life of the School. I feel like I was that kid, but I still left my own little mark on St. John’s. More importantly though, St. John’s left its mark on me, and now, it’s doing the same thing for my family.” Leaving the gift unrestricted means that their gift will go to the highest priority of the School. In other words, the Sloans are allowing St. John’s to best direct the funds in a way that will “keep the St. John’s tradition alive”, just as they have experienced in every encounter with the School thus far.

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