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Empowering Unique Learners
Miriam raises $2.6k and recognizes individuals’ dedication during inaugural soiree
Katie Stalter

Miriam School and Learning Center exceeded goals and expectations on April 13, with the inaugural Minds in Bloom Spring Soiree. Nearly 250 people attended the sold-out event, which was held at Danforth Plant Science Center.

The soiree raised more than $260,000, including $141,000 for scholarship funds that will be awarded to one student to attend Miriam School for four consecutive years.

I am incredibly moved by the overwhelming support we received that not only exceeded our expectations but also reaffirmed the dedication of our community to our mission. I extend my deepest gratitude to all attendees, donors,and volunteers who made this evening a success – their generosity paves the way for a brighter future for our students.

Heather Kemper, Director of Advancement

Sam and Susie Luten served as honorary chairs for the night, and Judy Scissors led a volunteer committee to ensure the event’s success.

In addition to an exciting live auction and a moving testimony from a current Miriam parent, Miriam honored five individuals with awards recognizing their dedication to the organization.

Fannie Landau Award for Volunteerism – Stephanie DePlanty

Stephanie DePlanty at Minds in Bloom

The Fannie Landau Award for Volunteerism recognizes a special individual or family that demonstrates incredible passion in helping to coordinate fundraising events, and motivating donors and/or other volunteers for fundraising projects for the benefit of Miriam School and Learning Center. Stephanie’s beginning with Miriam came in August of 2013 as her younger son, Quinn started second grade in Ms. Candi’s room. In a short time, Stephanie and Jeff fell in love with the teachers, staff and Miriam community. With a background in elementary education and master’s degree as a reading specialist, Stephanie soon realized how unique and special Miriam is. She quickly jumped in to help any way she could.

Stephanie is a past President of the Parents Association, the Friends of Miriam Chair for several years, a six-year Miriam Board member, served on the ISACS committee, 2014 & 2018 Gala committees, a Cabinet Member for the Learning to Succeed Campaign, Trivia Night committee member multiple times and served a record amount of pizza and cookies at hundreds of Miriam Pizza Fridays. Outside of Miriam, Stephanie was a Rockwood Rose Nominee for Outstanding Service in Education, a John Burroughs School Potpourri Co-Chair and served with the Gateway to the Great Outdoors.

Miriam Lifetime Achievement Award – Larry Langsam

Larry Langsam at Minds in Bloom

The Miriam Lifetime Achievement Award was established to honor those individuals who have made a positive impact on Miriam through their service over the course of 20-plus years. These individuals have demonstrated their commitment to and passion for the mission of Miriam in an ongoing capacity, and will forever be remembered as part of the Miriam legacy.

Mr. Langsam graduated in 1957 from Boston University School of Management with a B.S. in business administration. His first job was with Great American Insurance Company as a special agent. Following that, he worked for Garland Corporation, a manufacturer of women’s clothing. In 1971, he moved to St. Louis and became Vice President of Gateway Apparel, a wholesale and retail women’s clothing company. Mr. Langsam has been involved with several business and charitable organizations. He was president of the St. Louis Shippers Association. He also served on the board of United Hebrew Temple, Hebrew SeniorLife, and Boston University School of Medicine Board of Visitors. He has been actively involved with Miriam for over 40 years in many capacities: a volunteer advisor for Miriam’s retail shop, a member of the Board, scholarship donor, and financial contributor. He is married to Hannah, and they have three daughters, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


Legacy of Giving Award – Tim and Sherry Giddens

The Legacy of Giving Award celebrates outstanding contributions made through endowments and foundations, acknowledging those who have provided significant and lasting support to Miriam School and Learning Center. This award honors families or organizations whose generosity and foresight have ensured the long-term sustainability and success of our educational programs. It represents a deep appreciation for those who invest in our future, creating a legacy that benefits generations to come.

Tim and Sherry Giddens are former Miriam School parents who began a named scholarship in memory of their daughter, Jill Giddens – the Jill Giddens Memorial Scholarship Fund (Endowment). Jill was a student in the middle school during the 2020-2021 school year and was beloved by all – students and staff – for the way she made every person she met feel important and respected. Each year, the Jill Giddens Memorial Spirit Award and Scholarship is awarded to three students who embody the qualities of kindness, respect for all, empathy and responsibility that Jill lived out so beautifully each day. We are deeply grateful to the Giddens family for their belief in the Miriam School mission and their desire to remember Jill by ensuring that other children can also reach their full potential in our school community.

Visionary Leadership Award – Andy Thorp

Andy Thorp at Minds in Bloom

The Visionary Leadership Award recognizes exceptional individuals whose leadership, dedication, and innovation have significantly advanced the mission of Miriam School and Learning Center. This award honors those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to our cause, leaving a lasting impact through their visionary approach and unwavering support. It is an enduring tribute to leaders who have not only contributed during their tenure, but whose influence continues to resonate even after they move on.

For 15 years, Andy was Executive Director of the Miriam Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with learning differences and their families through the Miriam School, Learning Center, and Miriam Switching Post. Andy is currently Executive Director of Crown Center for Senior Living, dedicated to providing high quality living and services to support the independence of older adults regardless of personal resources. He has also held various positions with the Coro Leadership Center including Executive Director. Early in his career, Andy served as agriculture volunteer and a regional representative for the Peace Corps in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is here that he met his wife, Lisa. A New Jersey native, Andy has lived in St. Louis for the past 27 years, where he and his wife raised their three children.

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