Erica Merkow Strauss '89 and Aaron Strauss '91 were just two years apart at Shady Side Academy, but didn't start dating until many years later. They married in 2001 and have always kept Shady Side close to their hearts. So, when their children, Noah, a senior, and Dani, a sophomore, enrolled at SSA, their love of the blue and gold came full circle.
The Strausses are enthusiastic volunteers on campus. For many years, Aaron has raised the competitive spirit on campus to inspire other parents to get involved in giving through parent challenges. Erica's work volunteering as a homeroom parent at the Junior School, president of the Unified Parents' Association and a member of the Alumni Council have kept Shady Side a priority in their household.
"The Alumni Council has a student ambassador program to encourage student engagement," said Erica. "I was so thrilled when I heard that our son Noah was named one of the two junior ambassadors. I knew he would be a great asset to the council, and he is."
Throughout all of their work on campus, their children have been with them, exploring all that Shady Side Academy has to offer. Giving of their time just comes naturally to the Strauss family, who believe volunteering is "one of the best ways to say thank you."
"I love being on campus," said Erica. "I've known some of these kids since they were 4 years old – and now they're graduating! As much as I've missed being on campus throughout this pandemic, I'm impressed at the lengths the school has gone to in keeping everyone safe."
"We all look forward to getting back to normal," said Aaron. "But in the meantime, we'll keep doing what we can to engage other parents and help the school get through this difficult time."