Good friends are often the most reliable source of referrals for families who join The Bear Creek School, and Ed and Cindy McCahill are no exception. Having been set up on a long-distance blind date years earlier by their good friends, Bill and Jean Morgan (parents of Bobby ’05 and Conner ’11), when the McCahills, were looking for a great school for their own children, they naturally turned to the Morgans for their insights. Bill and Jean were quick to encourage them to consider The Bear Creek School. “We heard such remarkable things about Bear Creek from the Morgans that we knew without a doubt that we wanted Bear Creek for our own kids,” Ed and Cindy agreed. In 1997 they enrolled their oldest son, Will ’09, and built a new home near the then-Woodinville Campus. They were “all-in” from the start! In subsequent years, their other three children, Gannon ’11, Bridget ’14, and Meghan ’16 all became students at Bear Creek as well. Will and Gannon each married their Bear Creek sweethearts, Brittanie VanderWeide ’09, and Nichole Crews ’11. Suffice it to say, the McCahill family has been—and will always be—deeply enmeshed in the life and legacy of The Bear Creek School.
As new Bear Creek parents, Ed and Cindy both jumped in as volunteers right away, and they never looked back. They volunteered in many roles including working in the classrooms, chaperoning field trips, participating in parent prayer groups, leading Girl Scout troops and the Cub Scout pack, coaching sports teams, raising money for the capital campaigns and athletics programs, and serving as long-time board members of the Grizzlies Booster Club. Cindy chuckles, “I volunteered to be Room Mom for all four of my kids’ Lower School classes because that allowed me to organize their activities in a way that worked with my schedule. That’s not an easy thing to do with four kids!” On a more serious note, she comments, “I loved being involved at Bear Creek, meeting new families, making friends, and getting to know the other children. I consider our kids’ classmates mine -- part of my chosen family, and I am still in touch with many of them today, even as they have become adults.”
Ed reflects on the satisfaction he felt not just volunteering with the kids directly, but in helping lay the foundation for the future of the school by working on the school’s two successful capital campaigns: first to build the Main building, which opened in 2000, and more recently, to construct the Upper School building, which opened in 2015. “My high school experience at a private classically-oriented school that had existed since 1863 taught me the importance of legacy. Generations before I was born, many people had invested in the mission and vision of my high school’s founders, and the school endures today. I was blessed to be a beneficiary of their sacrifices and commitment, which powerfully influenced my thinking about legacy through education. I also experienced how an excellent education can inspire students to dream big dreams and work hard through the examples of many alumni role models. They were always quick to give credit to their high school education and experiences as the pivotal era in their lives. Cindy and I believe deeply in the power of the mission and vision of Bear Creek, and we have always wanted to see the school expand so more students and families could benefit from that.”
“Since we first arrived at Bear Creek, the school has continually exceeded our expectations -- and we had very high expectations,” they both agreed. When Ed and Cindy see how well their children are thriving, they attribute that largely to Bear Creek’s classical Christian education and the wonderful teachers, coaches, and staff who made it come to life for their children. “Our kids graduated from Bear Creek not just college-ready, but life-ready. That’s what we always prayed for.” They acknowledge that putting four kids through Bear Creek was not always easy, but state emphatically that they would do it again the same way. “We always saw Bear Creek as an investment, not an expense. We wanted to put our resources towards helping our kids get the most out of their educational potential so they would be best-equipped to launch and sustain successful lives.” Ed adds, “We always trusted the school, and we knew that the teachers loved our kids, loved Jesus, and were giving them the best education possible.” He believes that the quality and depth of academic, social, and character development his children received continue to serve them well in both college and their chosen careers. “I really see that the classical Christian Trivium that Bear Creek teachers use, weaves knowledge into students’ minds and hearts in a way that results in wisdom, truth, and understanding, not just knowing a bunch of information.”
The McCahill family’s involvement did not end when their youngest child graduated. The values Ed and Cindy modeled for their children have been lessons deeply learned. Gannon serves on the Alumni Leadership Committee, Will and Brittanie have volunteered in various ways as alumni, and it is not unusual to see Bridget and Meghan helping Cindy with photography or other projects at Bear Creek when they are in town.
Ed and Cindy are still actively involved as well. Ed jokes, “We’re still here. The kids got a diploma, but we didn’t!” Cindy is one of the school’s photographers, serves on the Parents of Alumni Committee, and teaches a JanTerm class each year. Ed helps with the JanTerm class, shares his expertise in financial planning, assists with fundraising, and is a champion for the school in the community, encouraging other families to consider Bear Creek for their children. They frequently attend athletics games and performing arts events, enthusiastically supporting current students. Cindy comments, “It was a little hard at first to come back after Meghan graduated. I was worried that maybe I wouldn’t belong anymore, but that fear went away the moment I stepped back through the front door. These are my people, this is my home. I feel welcomed every time I am at the school, and this is where my heart is.” Both treasure the connections and deep relationships they have developed with faculty and alumni families as well as current parents and students.
The McCahills also continue to invest philanthropically in Bear Creek. Ed says, “I’ve never given Bear Creek a dime in my life. We view our tuition payments and our financial gifts as investments in our family’s legacy here, much like those investors who have funded my high school since 1863. And an investor loves nothing more than to see a great return on their investments! The school continues to be faithful to its mission and we can feel the Lord at work here on every level. It is such a blessing for our family to be both recipients of that, through our four children and two daughters-in-law, and to be an active part of continuing to build an enduring legacy through Bear Creek for current and future students and families, some of whom may eventually even include future generations of our own family!”