Ask any of the Piltch siblings we had the chance to talk with – Cynthia, Kineret, Steve, Neal, Rich, Stuart, Debbie, and Stan – about a transformative moment from their childhood in Brookline, and they’ll tell you about education. More importantly, they’ll tell you about how they see education as a communal effort. “I applied to AFS as a junior in high school because my teachers and mentors said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford this. We’ll raise the money to make sure you can go,’” said Cynthia. “And I got selected. I went to Indonesia and it changed my life.” Their brother, Rich shared a similar story. “There was one teacher at BHS named Mead Reynolds that made a big difference in my life. He took me to tour colleges he thought would be a good fit for me. Without him, I don’t think I would have gone to college.” And Steve affirmed that their eldest brother Howard – who was unfortunately unable to join the conversation – would share similar sentiments about his time at Brookline High School.

The siblings credit this shared commitment to education to their parents, Roy and Mildred Piltch. Both Roy and Mildred believed deeply in the power of education to open doors, create opportunities, and transform lives. “My father believed every woman needed an education and that there were no limits to what my education should be,” said Kineret. “There were no boundaries in terms of what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be.” Crucially, their parents were advocates of each of their children’s individual learning styles, and encouraged them to follow educational pathways that felt authentic to them. Combined with a strong belief in being welcoming members of their community, these values have defined how their children view their roles as community and world citizens. “That’s the amazing thing,” said Stuart, “We all have similar values systems but really different views and ways of expressing those values.” Neal also explained, “Our parents really instilled in us to leave things better than we found them. It’s basically the family philosophy.”

The values that comprise that family philosophy – learning, kindness, and community – combined with the steadfast belief that all students deserve the opportunity to learn and grow their strengths through their personal learning styles, led the family to begin supporting Brookline High School students more than 25 years ago in honor of their parents. Over 15 years ago, they established the The Piltch Family Scholarship Fund, and in 2020 moved the scholarship fund to the Brookline Community Foundation in celebration of the fact that Mildred and all nine of her children graduated from Brookline High School. Through this partnership with BCF, the family is providing scholarships to support students as they take the next steps in their educational journeys – creating a legacy of lifelong learning in Brookline. “All kids need opportunities regardless of their wealth and their backgrounds,” said Stan. “I got a scholarship from Brookline to go to college,” Cynthia explained. “And I remember thinking that someday, I wanted to do this for someone else.”

Because of the Piltch Family’s generosity, Brookline students have new opportunities to continue the legacy of lifelong, whole-person learning inspired and enabled by Roy and Mildred Piltch. “All of us have tried to work in communities and as educators, and tried to minimize barriers to entry for students who don’t come from resource rich communities,” Deb explained. “I hope people realize that there’s no one correct path they have to follow, but that whatever path they do follow, they have an obligation to look beyond themselves and to try and see the interconnectedness of the communities and world we live in.” And while all the siblings have taken unique paths in their lives and careers, they all agree on what they want for Brookline students today and well into the future. “We’re all hoping that we can provide students with what we had when we were younger,” said Steve. “Opportunities to experience whole-person education, opportunities to respect and celebrate differences, and opportunities to be part of something greater than ourselves.”