Chrismon: A New Canterbury Tradition

Parent volunteers had a vision for the Christmas tree in Phillips Chapel, and they have made that vision a reality for the second year in a row. Throughout the season of Advent, the tree will be adorned with chrisma handmade by students in 4th through 8th grade.

Chrismon comes from the Latin term meaning “monogram of Christ.” The plural is chrisma. Christian churches of various denominations will decorate trees in their sanctuaries featuring chrisma and white lights.

5th graders put together their chrismons.

5th graders put together their chrismons.

This year’s chrismon is the Greek cross made using wire, white and gold beads, and a lot of parental guidance. Each student receives a starter kit with the supplies, and parents are on hand to help with the creation of the chrismon.

Last year was the first time Canterbury students made chrisma for the Phillips Chapel tree under the guidance of Amy Kreimer, Alison Dodge, and Marty Keeton. A new Canterbury tradition was born! The goal is for students to make a new chrismon each year based on a different pattern.

“I hope it will continue for years to come,” Marty says.

This initiative is now led by the Altar Guild committee of the CPA. The chairs of the Altar Guild this year are Leigh Jones, Marty Keeton, and Becky Clodfelter. In addition to chrisma, Altar Guild is in charge of the holiday flower sale (a CPA fundraiser) and the annual greening of the chapel. Parents are encouraged to come the Sunday after Thanksgiving to help put fresh greenery cuttings in the chapel. The best cuttings are holly, nandina, magnolia, and evergreen branches of all kinds. Please come, bring whatever you have in your yard, and enjoy getting in the spirit with fellow parents.

Want to go to the annual greening of the chapel? Drop by on Sunday, Nov. 30th in Phillips Chapel from 2:30-5pm. 


by Kelly McKee

mckee Kelly McKee is a freelance writer and community volunteer. She has three daughters and a very high golf handicap (these two facts are not unrelated).


Behind the scenes at BackPack Beginnings

The office space was buzzing with activity as I walked into BackPack Beginnings (BPB) on Alliance Drive. Justin McCollum’s 3rd graders were starting their first service learning field trip of the school year. Boxes were cut open. Food items checked and put in plastic bags. Everything was counted, repacked, and stacked, all the while children’s voices echoed down the hallways.

The students stated their purpose clearly: “We are packing food for kids who do not have enough on the weekends.” And they learned the ropes quickly. “Pack two juices, two proteins. Nothing smushed.”

They also got the point. “This is fun,” a child said. “I feel like I am helping someone!”

Canterbury third graders helping at BackPack Beginnings.

Canterbury 3rd graders help at BackPack Beginnings.

Canterbury’s 3rd graders head out to the BackPack Beginnings distribution center once a trimester to perform many different duties. Packing up food bags. Sorting books, clothing, or school supplies. Checking donated food for damage before going out for delivery.

An organization run entirely by volunteers, BackPack Beginnings provides local children in need with nutritious food, comfort items, or basic necessities. Canterbury supports the mission not only through 3rd grade service learning time, but also through food deliveries conducted by the Canterbury Parents Association.

This year, the CPA volunteers are led by Julie Pyrtle (Emma, Kindergarten and Fenton, Pre-K). Every Thursday, a pair of volunteers picks up the prepared food bags from the distribution center, checks though their school list for any food allergies, and then delivers the food packs to Poplar Grove Head Start on Summit Avenue. According to Julie, the last delivery served 44 children at the school.

Canterbury third graders helping at BackPack Beginnings.

Canterbury 3rd graders help at BackPack Beginnings.

Parker White is the founder of BackPack Beginnings. A mother of two, Parker began the organization in January 2010, initially feeding 50 children in one school. Utilizing Feeding America’s national BackPack Program and partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, BPB partners with Guilford County Title 1 schools and Head Start agencies to identify children in need of food on weekends. Now, BPB has expanded to include three programs beyond the food backpacks (comfort backpacks, food pantries, and a clothing pantry). This fall, the organization will feed more than 1,300 children in 26 schools.

The need in Guilford County may shock you. More than 43,000 children (58 percent) in Guilford County schools are at risk of going hungry each week. Just five dollars can feed a hungry child for the weekend.

BackPack Beginnings is the story of how Parker, one person, took the first step to make a huge impact in the lives of many helpless children. Recently, she answered a few questions for me:

What keeps you going? You are a mom of two and this is a big undertaking; do you ever feel like you are in survival mode and just can’t fit it all in?

Absolutely. I feel overwhelmed all the time and only get to about 60 percent of my daily BPB goals each day.  When I started this, I planned to devoted a few hours a week. But it is now 40-50 hours a week. However, we have found ten amazing core volunteer “staff,” 150 food delivery volunteers, and 50-100 office volunteers. Without them and our supporters, it would not be possible. What keeps me going is their support and the thought of the many helpless children in Guilford County who are in need of food, clothing, comfort, and more. When I get stressed, all I need to do is read some of the feedback from the children we serve and I get that motivation again.

How did you come up with this idea of backpacks?

When living in Washington D.C., I had heard of food backpack programs and that it was such a wonderful idea. When I moved to Greensboro, I couldn’t get that idea out of my head. And, once I saw that this organization was really taking off, I knew that I wanted it to be more than food. I wanted to create other backpack programs that helped all subsets of children in need.

Do you feel like this is your purpose or calling in life?

Definitely. Looking back on it all, I feel like God had this plan for me, and it was the reason I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I believe this is what I was meant to do with my life. Only God could have made it grow so quickly, provided the right people at the right time, etc. I could not have done this on my own.

What’s your advice to someone who has an idea to help or start something new, but just can’t seem to figure out where to start?

Some advice: Do your research and talk to as many people as you can. If you are passionate about something, make yourself knowledgeable about that field and how you can play a role in it. Collaborate with others. Not many people excel when isolating themselves from others who are doing similar things. And believe in yourself when others may not. We were told that a group of stay-at-home-moms couldn’t pull off a 100 percent volunteer nonprofit, but that only lit a fire under us. Push back against the naysayers if you believe this is what you are meant to do.

What’s next for BackPack Beginnings?

BPB is continuing to find ways to grow all four of its programs and our next step, in order to do that, is to find new office space. We have been blessed with 3,300 square feet of donated space, but we have quickly outgrown it and hope to move this summer. A move to a larger space, although it may be costly, will allow us to expand to serve more children.


by Katie Hu

huKatie Hu is the parent of Brady (4th-Hoover), Maggie (2nd-McIlwain) and Mason (2025). Her favorite part of Canterbury is the chapel and the teachers. She loves a quiet walk in the woods, yoga, and a tall glass of kale afterwards. 

Introducing your CPA Executive Board

My mission was simple. Drop by the front porch of one Morgan Love (Jackson-4th, Avery-7th). A four-inch binder would be waiting for me. Take the binder, review its contents, and contact Morgan with any questions.

The life of a CPA President is one of constant connection making. Connecting projects to volunteers. People to resources. Institutional goals to the committee of parents committed to serve.

The binder I picked up contained several years of information about the Parents’ Page, a communication tool by parents, for parents. As President of the Canterbury Parents’ Association (CPA), Morgan made sure I had everything I needed to begin my term as chair of the Parents’ Page.

Thing is, you don’t have to be chair of a certain committee to be part of the CPA. Every Canterbury parent is a member, and membership has its privileges – volunteer opportunities, enhanced friendships, a sense of purpose, and ownership of the Canterbury experience.

Morgan, along with the members of the CPA Executive Board, keeps the CPA organized, focused and moving forward. Those members are: Alison Dodge, Volunteer Coordinator; Amy Kreimer, Past President; Jane Pope, President-elect; Erin Riggsbee, Treasurer; Rhonda Wakefield, Secretary.

Last week, I asked the CPA Executive Board a few questions so that the greater Canterbury community could get to know them – and the CPA – better. Take a look at their responses below. (And don’t forget: The CPA meets monthly with 30-40 parents on average in attendance. Join us for our next meeting on Nov. 18 at 8am in Berry Hall.) 

Left to right: Erin Riggsbee, Alison Dodge, Morgan Love, Jane Pope, Amy Kreimer, and Rhonda Wakefield.

Left to right: Erin Riggsbee, Alison Dodge, Morgan Love, Jane Pope, Amy Kreimer, and Rhonda Wakefield.

Who are your Canterbury kids?

Morgan: Avery-7th and Jackson-4th

Rhonda: Libby-5th and Will-2nd  

Alison: Ava-8th. Mittie and Paul III, former Canterbury students, now in college.

Erin: Will-7th, Margaret Ann-4th 

Jane: Clara-7th; Molly-4th; Georgie and Louisa-Kindergarten

Amy: Weller-8th, Max-7th, Oliver-5th

What are some examples of the CPA’s work?

Morgan: The Canterbury Parents’ Association is an organization that provides volunteer opportunities to the parents at Canterbury, but it is also essential to the many events and activities that take place at the school. The CPA is made up of 26 committees. Some of these include such things as Hot Lunch, Spring Fling, Passive Fundraising, Clerical Help, and Boosters. All of the committee chairs and their volunteers work very hard at making events, functions, and school support fun and successful.

Canterbury continues to have wonderful parents who are always willing to volunteer and help out with the needs of the CPA. At any event or really any day on campus, you will find numerous parents fulfilling CPA “jobs” and doing volunteer work.

What is one thing you wish parents knew about the CPA?

Morgan: There are numerous types of volunteer jobs on the CPA. I never want the working or busy parent to feel like there is nothing they can do. There are always opportunities available to help the CPA. That can be a one-time commitment or a larger commitment. I encourage people to go to our website and see what is available. Or just find what interests them and email the committee chair to see what is available that fits their schedule. 

Rhonda: The CPA is inclusive to all parents.  Parents are encouraged to attend meetings and volunteer if they would like.

Alison: Being a part of the CPA is a great way to meet other parents, keep in touch with school events and learn more about all of the wonderful things that your children are doing.

Erin: I really wish all parents would attend the meetings. The meetings are for everyone and we really want everyone to be there!

Jane: That you can volunteer in any capacity. If you want a one time shot to volunteer, there’s something for you. If you want to be in charge of an entire event and coordinate volunteers to pull off something big, there’s a slot for that too. I wish every parent would come out and join us. The more the merrier, so come on!

Amy: Last year I saw and heard how much the staff and administration at Canterbury appreciate and value the countless volunteer hours that the CPA gives to the school.  They take nothing the CPA does for granted and are appreciative and are thankful for all we do.   

Why did you choose to take on a leadership role with the CPA?

Morgan: I truly enjoy being a part of the CPA and believe that the work the CPA does directly benefits our children. I love my children to see me involved in their lives at Canterbury and I want them to value the role of volunteer in their lives as they grow.

What’s your favorite food and your favorite place to eat it?

Morgan: Sushi – Sushi Republic or US Sushi

Rhonda: I just realized that Morgan and I need to go out to eat.  I love sushi!  I also love Mexican.  My family likes to eat at Santa Fe and US Sushi.

Alison: I love Thai and Indian. Who wants to go out to lunch? 

Erin: I am pretty happy with most foods. 

Jane: Anything chocolate! Homemade and warm out of the oven with vanilla ice cream is best.

Amy: Chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven in my kitchen, but my favorite Greensboro restaurant is 1618 Seafood Grill.

Why do you love Canterbury?

Morgan: My children are receiving a top education as well as being nurtured as people. They are challenged at Canterbury and are given a support system unlike any other I have seen.

Rhonda: The people…the faculty, staff, and the students and their families. Canterbury School is full of people who want what is best for the children. The parents are like-minded, wanting to provide a loving, nurturing, and academically challenging environment for their children.

Alison: Canterbury is an incredible community that is more than just a school. The students receive an education that is rigorous academically, but they also learn kindness, inclusiveness, leadership, service to others and so many other important characteristics. 

Erin: I love Canterbury for so many reasons.  It is a place that teaches kids and parents in a safe environment.  We know that if we fail or are not successful at something, it is a learning moment and no one judges. We move on and learn from our mistakes and it is okay.

Jane: Hands down I love Canterbury because of the staff! It means so much to me, that in these critically important formative years, our children spend so many hours of their weekdays with folks who love and nurture them wholeheartedly. I feel like Canterbury staff does such a great job encouraging children to be the best version of themselves. I also love all of the opportunities they have, starting in kindergarten, to stand in front of a group and speak. 

Amy: From the moment a child walks onto the campus he is known, loved, and nurtured as an individual. I also appreciate the balance of academic excellence, service, leadership, faith, the arts, and athletics.

What is your profession?

Morgan: Office Manager for Cellular Sales of NC, LLC

Rhonda: I work part-time from home as a business analyst for defense contractor, CACI, which is based out of the Washington, DC area. We work to provide software offerings to the Department of Defense (DoD) to support the mission of the DoD.

Alison: I am a fashion stylist, professional makeup artist and producer.  I work with models and actors on advertising photo or video shoots.

Erin: Interior Designer by trade. Fabric designer before kids. Master of all things family currently.

Jane: I am a professional Mom. 

Amy: As a full time mom to three boys I serve mostly as a professional referee, cook and personal assistant. 

What is your dream job?

Alison: Headmaster. Just kidding, Burns!

Jane: Hmmm. Let’s see. Chef. Artist. Author (of children’s books maybe?).  

Amy: Hmmm… personal travel guide (to all the places I want to visit).

Have you ever met anyone famous?

Morgan: Not really. I am still waiting on my 15 minutes of fame 

Rhonda: I sat behind Bob and Elizabeth Dole in church in Washington, DC.  My husband and I got to meet Bob Dole at a dinner.  I found him to be hilarious and charismatic. My husband would not let me get away without saying that we met Ben Jones, Cooter from the “Dukes of Hazzard” while in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Alison: I have met a few through my profession and travels. My favorites are Jack Nicholson, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.

Jane: I have met a few famous folks. I think the best story is Chris Farley. I heard him eating his spaghetti before I met him.

Amy: Not really but I did sit at a dinner table next to Cuba Gooding, Jr. one time.

What is your best or worst parenting moment?

Morgan: Best – Every day is a best. I am honored to be their mother. It all seems like the best to me. As far as the worst….there are too many to mention. I certainly would go back and change a few moments!!

Rhonda: Worst parenting moment? You probably can’t print it.

Alison: My best parenting was accomplished before I had kids. You know how that works.  🙂

Erin: I have a running list of worst moments. My son likes to remind me of the time I left him alone at the Spring Fling when he was in Kindergarten. I was on the clean up crew and did my work and left.  Totally forgot that I told my husband I would bring him home. Thankfully Mary Dehnert was still at school and brought him home. I stopped all volunteer work for awhile and will never do clean up again! Best moment might have been when I ran through the field towards my son with my arms open yelling his name for a hug. He was in 4th grade and horrified. I just wanted to let him know that I could always embarrass him more than he could embarrass me so please don’t ever forget. I think he remembers.

Jane: Oh gosh! I feel like I have some of both in every single day!

Share one anecdote regarding a special moment for your child at Canterbury.  

Alison: My daughter performing in the middle school musical, “Oklahoma!” was an incredibly fun and a rewarding experience for her.

Amy: When Max read a lesson at the Lessons and Carols service. It reminded me once again of the special place Canterbury is, nurturing children through their intellectual and spiritual development.

What is your favorite spot on the Canterbury campus?

Morgan: Berry porch in a rocking chair during the school day. When I have had the opportunity to sit there and just watch the kids and staff “do their thing” it truly makes me thankful my kids are in such a fun and kind environment.

Alison: Stafford Arts Center lobby looking out onto campus. Also Phillips Chapel when the sun shines through the stained glass windows.

Erin: I love the back row of the chapel. It is a beautiful building for sure, but the beauty to me is seeing the Canterbury Community come together to praise God for His blessings. From the back row you can really take in the gift that our kids receive from being at Canterbury.

Jane: I love sitting in the chapel. Watching children take part in leading chapel services always moves me. I also love walking down the halls of Armfield looking at the art outside each classroom.

Amy: The chapel!

What is your favorite Canterbury tradition?

Morgan: Stone Soup – What a great message and lesson to give our children!

Rhonda: Canterbury Families

Alison: Chapel Buddies

Erin: Chapel Buddies

Jane: 8th grade sermons. What an incredible opportunity for our children! Also, Stone Soup. I love the entire school coming together to focus on such a simple lesson; working together as a group, great things can be accomplished.

Amy: Chapel Buddies, Stone Soup, eight grade sermons, and many more.

What are some of the keys goals of the CPA for 2014-15?

Morgan: The key CPA goal is always to make sure the staff and kids are getting the support they need from the community of parents. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to provide help where it is needed for the school. Another goal is fundraising. We try to provide events and activities that help raise money for our school. Innisbrook is our largest fundraiser. We also earn money through passive fundraising such as Box Tops and linked shopping cards (Target and Harris Teeter, etc). The CPA usually tries to give a gift back to the school each year. In the past we have given gifts to our new Haley Athletic Center. We also donated the small Canterbury School bus.

What you are most excited about for Canterbury and the CPA this year?

Morgan:The bonding that takes place throughout the year. Being a part of the CPA always allows me the opportunity to make friends with other parents and faculty that I otherwise would not. It is such a fabulous and kind community. I think these type of relationships make Canterbury an even better place. You can almost feel the sense of community on campus.

Alison: I am very excited about our new science and technology building. It is wonderful that the CPA continues to grow and evolve.  The dedication of the CPA volunteers is always inspiring.

Erin: We have lots of new faces leading CPA Committees this year. I am looking forward to all the new ideas and leadership that brings.

Please visit the CPA web site to sign up to volunteer for one of the CPA’s committees.  

by Andrea Crossley Spencer

AC Spencer Fall 2012 Headshot copy 2Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (4th – Hoover), a freelance writer, and a creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s after school fine arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies. She loves hiking, chocolate peanut butter shakes and listening to David Gray.