Charlotte Country Day School


Sherry Harris
Patrick Buschman
Tim Waples

September 19, 2017


Dear Charlotte Country Day School community:


It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that we announce an extraordinary $4.5 million gift from the Bissell family to further our mission.


This exceptional gift, from Margaret Gragg Bissell and Smoky Bissell, Howard '86 and Stephanie Bissell, Barbara Hallow '83, James (J.J.) Bissell '88, Cary Bissell Sherck '82 and Michael Sherck, helps bring to life the collective vision shaped by our strategic plan.


We are delighted to share that the Bissell family is continuing their longstanding tradition of supporting our exceptional faculty and staff by adding substantial support for the Margaret E. Gragg Endowment for Faculty Professional Development and the Bissell Faculty Salary Endowment funds, bringing these funds' combined balances to $10 million. These endowments will ensure that Country Day is able to attract and retain a diverse and passionate faculty and staff and that our greatest assets—our teachers—are provided ample opportunities for professional growth.


Additionally, the Bissell family will honor the exceptional life and legacy of the late Sara Harris Bissell '56 by naming the welcome area in the future Upper School Learning Center in her memory. Sara's love for Country Day ran deep, and we are pleased to have a permanent space to honor her legacy and leadership. Support of the welcome area augments the cornerstone elements of an integrated plan to update Country Day's Cannon Campus and position our school for the future.


The Bissell family's incredible support further strengthens the love of learning that our faculty and staff inspire in our students and also helps affirm community through a warm and welcoming space on our updated Cannon Campus. Additionally, this gift propels Country Day into an elite group of independent schools nationwide, whose endowments are above the $50 million mark.


We are deeply grateful to the Bissell family for their unwavering devotion to Country Day students, faculty, and staff.


Todd Gorelick '82
Chair, Board of Trustees


Mark Reed
Head of School


About the Donors

Margaret and Smoky Bissell

Throughout their lives and careers, Margaret and Smoky have been visionaries in positioning the city of Charlotte and Charlotte Country Day School as nationally recognized leaders. Whether by bringing innovative businesses and organizations to our city through the development of SouthPark and Ballantyne, or by leading our school through an unprecedented area of "firsts" and forward-thinking initiatives, the Bissells have accomplished great things for our community and done so in an unassuming and collaborative manner.


Margaret is Country Day's longest-serving Head of School. In total, she served our school for 32 years, first as an English teacher, followed by several administrative roles, and finally, for 17 years, as Head of School until her retirement in 2009. Her deep commitment to excellence in teaching, her passion for students and their success, and her strong desire to preserve our caring community has shaped this institution for many years. Margaret's significant contributions to Country Day and the impact she had on our school cannot be overstated. Significant advances in our school's history that occurred under Margaret's leadership include the development of the International Baccalaureate degree program, the introduction of Faculty Renewal Grants, the establishment of the Offices of Diversity Planning and International Studies, the oversight of significant capital campaigns and state-of-the-art facilities that transformed both campuses, and a revised Mission Statement and development of our Affirmation of Community. In August 2016, she was named Head of School Emeritus at the school's 75th Anniversary Celebration.


Smoky founded the Bissell organization in 1964. Highly regarded as the visionary leader behind the creation of Ballantyne, Smoky has developed more than six million square feet of Class A commercial office space, four hotels, and an 18-hole daily fee golf course. Before conceptualizing Ballantyne, he partnered with Johnny Harris to develop more than two million square feet of commercial office space in SouthPark. Prior to becoming a licensed real estate broker, Smoky held positions as a teacher and an officer in the U.S. Navy.


Smoky is also deeply respected for his numerous civic contributions, and he and Margaret have been the recipients of the World Affairs Council World Citizen Award. He has been honored with the Echo Foundation Award Against Indifference, Charlotte Business Journal's Person of the Year, and Leadership Charlotte's Lifetime Achievement Award—and these are just a sampling of the numerous ways in which his leadership has been recognized.


At Country Day, Smoky began his service as a Board of Trustees member in 1967 and has served on and off in this capacity for decades, before being asked to serve as a lifetime trustee in 1997. Smoky was also a charter member of the Honorary Alumni Association, which began in 1981 as part of the school's 40th anniversary.


Smoky is the parent of four children and eight grandchildren who have attended Country Day.


As a testament to their gratitude, Smoky's children have chosen to honor their mother, the late Sara Harris Bissell '56.


Howard '86 and Stephanie Bissell
Howard serves as senior vice president and director at The Bissell Companies. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Georgia, and serves as first vice chair for The Charlotte Regional Partnership. He also serves on the board of directors for Queens University, Carolinas Healthcare Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

Stephanie attended Queens University, where she serves on the Board of Visitors. She has also served as a board member for Opera Carolina and Speedway Children's Charities. Howard and Stephanie have three sons: Owen, currently in seventh grade at Country Day; and Ward and Burns, who attend Woodberry Forest School.


Barbara Hallow '83
Barbara, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has served as a commercial real estate broker with the Bissell Companies. She is a competitive Pro-Am dancer who competes nationally and abroad and is also a freelance writer for Dance Trends magazine. While a parent at Country Day, Barbara was involved as a volunteer through the Boosters Club and the Parents' Association. Barbara's daughter Morgan is a student at Trinity College; her son Jack attends the University of Kentucky; and her youngest son Rex attends Woodberry Forest School.


James (J.J.) Bissell '88
J. J. holds a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. He was editor and publisher of The Ballantyne Magazine and was subsequently a senior vice president and director of the Bissell Companies. Prior to that he worked as a commercial photographer and was the publisher and photographer of Los Ojos Del Condor, a fine-art coffee table book featuring Chile from an aerial perspective. His photographs remain featured in public venues in Chile.


Cary Bissell Sherck '82 and Michael Sherck
Cary holds a bachelor's degree in art history from Duke University. Active in the community, she serves on the boards of In Reach and Good Friends and continues to teach ceramics classes at Clayworks. Michael Sherck is the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Wells Fargo, after spending the first 22 years of his career in the hotel industry.

Cary and Michael are the proud parents of Sara, Cameron, a member of the Class of 2015 and current student at NC State University, and Anna, who attends Myers Park High School.


© 2017 Charlotte Country Day School