At a Glance
In Partnership Award 2016: The Flood Family
When people come to The School in Rose Valley I often tell them about the founding of the School, how it grew out of the Rose Valley tradition, that founders embraced the philosophy of John Dewey, that teachers developed a curriculum with the help of Swarthmore professors, and how students attended classes in a Sears shed on Vernon Lane. This is only part of the story though. Through almost nine decades countless individuals have dedicated their time, experience, and muscle to growing the School. Through active involvement and leadership, several individuals have guided the SRV community through challenging times and ensured that we remained true to our progressive mission. We are here today to celebrate the Flood family — a family that represents the values of this School and who have given so much of themselves to SRV.
Ralph and Carol Flood
Ralph Flood grew up in the Oxford Circle section of Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from North Catholic High School in 1953. He went to the University of Pennsylvania on a mayor’s scholarship, to Princeton University, where he earned a master’s degree, and then the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a doctorate in English Literature. He taught English Literature at Gettysburg College and Temple University before turning to public radio, where as a reporter for WHYY he covered labor, science, and social issues. He later moved to the Chestnut Hill Academy where he taught English in the Upper School for approximately twenty-five years. He continued to teach after retirement, at Temple University, where he developed courses in America and Caribbean literature. A lover of the theater and classical music, Ralph spent summers deep in the Maine woods, where he designed and built a Shelter Institute house. He enjoyed a rich social and cultural life, sharing theater, poetry, and music with many colleagues and friends. Ralph Flood was a passionate political and community activist, serving as a democratic committee person in Powelton Village for more than 20 years and actively supporting countless liberal campaigns and causes by volunteering his time, opening his home to volunteers and staffers, and giving generously of his resources. Ever optimistic, he deeply believed that political engagement could lead to progress. Of all the causes he supported, Ralph cared most deeply about social justice and the environment. Sadly, we lost a great friend of the School in October of 2014.
Ralph “found” SRV while studying theater with Jasper Deeter at Hedgerow, and Ralph and Carol Flood decided to enroll both of their daughters, Persephone and Eloise, in the School. While Persephone and Eloise were at SRV, Carol went back for her Masters of Social Work and was a social worker at Penn Dental School. Ralph was a member of the Board of Trustees, and was very involved in the SRV community. A freelance journalist during much of the ’70s, he produced a short documentary film about the school that was shown on the local public TV station. The Flood family didn’t own a TV at the time but rented one for that occasion. Among many other contributions, he helped to build the Dome in the late ’60s.
Eloise Flood graduated SRV in 1975. She went on to Philadelphia public schools, but finished up at Germantown Friends, then on to Columbia University. She spent her first career in publishing, working as an editor and writer of novels for older children and teens. She edited Nancy Drew and similar series, then went on to racier stuff like Gossip Girl. Her first love in publishing is Science Fiction and Fantasy, and she was lucky enough to work with authors like Scott Westerfeld of Uglies/Pretties fame, among others. She wrote a Star Trek novel and several series, including Charmed, Secret in the Moonlight and Ghost of a Chance. She left publishing about ten years ago and became a librarian and now works as the head of Circulation and Interlibrary Loan at Pace University in New York, though she still writes on the side. In fact, she’s finishing up a teen fantasy novel right now. Stay tuned! Eloise live in Brooklyn with her partner, Christopher, and her son Ben, who is heading off to Binghamton University in January for his freshman year.
Her years at SRV were among the happiest of her life. To quote Eloise, ‘When I look back at them, they are surrounded by a kind of golden haze.” One of the enduring legacies she has from Rose Valley is a love of singing, nurtured by Friday assemblies and her music teacher, Anna Mae Courtney. Eloise has continued to sing in choruses throughout her adult life, and credits Rose Valley for making it such an integral and rewarding experience. She remembers her teachers as incredibly kind and giving, recalling that many of them spent their own free time with students, doing things like taking small groups to the Italian Market or Reading Terminal Market on a Saturday and cooking with them. Eloise felt, and I quote, “There was such a lovely family atmosphere, in the best sense of the word.”
I recently got to know Eloise through our work on a project aimed at honoring Whit Burress, longtime SRV Sports teacher. Her fond memories of her teachers have been inspirational and her knowledge of the School and its values invaluable. I have come to appreciate her willingness to work hard and her love of SRV.
Persephone Braham is an associate professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Delaware, where she teaches courses on Caribbean literatures and cultures, Latin American film, monsters, and race and gender in Latin America. She is the author of two monographs, Crimes Against the State, Crimes Against Persons: Detective Fiction in Cuba and Mexico (Minnesota 2004) and From Amazons to Zombies. Monsters in Latin America (Bucknell 2015), and is editor of the volume African Diaspora in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean (Delaware 2014). Prior to her academic career, she worked in publishing, print production, graphic design, and as an information technology specialist. Persephone attended SRV from 1966 to 1973. Through her experience at SRV, Persephone gained an endless hunger for learning and the flexibility, confidence and knowledge of how to gain other expertise. After SRV she attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls, now Masterman, then Barnard College, and then the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a doctorate degree. Persephone worked in graphic design, print production, information technology, eventually becoming a Professor of Latin American Literature at The University of Delaware.
The experience that she had at the School was so meaningful that she moved her family, husband Bill, and son Hugh, back to Rose Valley so that Hugh could attend SRV. Persephone has been part of the SRV Board since 2008, has been on the executive committee, and was Board Chair for several years. A natural leader, Persephone has guided the School through financial restructuring, accreditation, and the search for a new Head of School.
I first met Persephone as part of the interview process at SRV. While I can say that I liked her right away, I could not have predicted how much I would have relied on her in my first year as Head of School. Knowledgeable and wise, Persephone has such as strong sense of the ethos of the School and what works here and what doesn’t. I truly appreciate the way that she and the Board of Trustees have positioned the school for growth and financial sustainability. This didn’t just happen. It was the result of many late nights, good decisions, and leadership. As Board Chair, Persephone anticipated the road ahead and worked hard to ensure that it wouldn’t be bumpy. I have directly benefitted from her wisdom and leadership. I am so thankful for you, Persephone.
We expect so much of parents — both faith and works — as Grace Rotzel put it. The example of the Flood family reminds us of the importance of the support that the SRV community provides. Their stories are woven into the fabric of the SRV narrative and have helped to shape the School’s future. Ralph and Carol Flood recognized the value of an SRV education and provided the best possible beginning for their daughters. Persephone and Eloise went on to demonstrate that value through work, family, and community.
I want to say a little bit about this award… The In-Partnership Award is not a recognition that someone has given more of themselves or done more for the School than someone else. It’s not a reward to work toward. Rather, the designees of the In-Partnership Award represent SRV at its best. Those who have received the In-Partnership Award provide an example of what commitment looks like and what it takes to keep an 86 year-old institution running. The award is also a way to celebrate who we are, what values we hold dear, and the things that are important to us. With that in mind, please join me in presenting the In-Partnership award to the Flood family.
Stanton, Rod. “In Partnership Award: The Flood Family.” Harvest Festival. Rose Valley. 14 Oct. 2016. Speech.