Teri and Duane Silvestri

Teri and Duane Silvestri on campus

"That non sibi spirit is, for me, one of the greatest things I’ve seen in terms of impacting my children's character."

Teri and Duane Silvestri remember the first visit they made with their son Aiden ’22 to Exeter’s campus. Right off the bat, they were impressed by the time that admissions officers took to differentiate between Exeter and other East Coast boarding schools Aiden had applied to, and their efforts to ensure the Silvestris understood which school might be the best fit for Aiden.

“[Then] when Aiden was invited to go do a practice with the boys' soccer team, and he talked to Coach Cosgrove, it was done,” Teri recalls. “He was like, this is where I belong.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Aiden arrived as a prep in the fall of 2018, and Aiden’s younger sister, Jenna ’23, would soon follow in his footsteps. With both children playing soccer, the Silvestris began connecting with other parents while visiting campus for games, including Family Weekend and Exeter-Andover contests. “It was different for us not to be in the community where they're going to school,” Teri says. “So that was wonderful for us to feel like we were part of a group.”

“Not having gone to a boarding school myself, I never saw such enthusiasm and excitement every time we came to campus,” Duane adds. “It’s so genuine, and I love that connection.”

Getting more involved

When Aubrey ’25 decided to apply to Exeter, the Silvestris made the decision to shorten the distance between them and their kids. They moved from Seattle to Newtown, Pennsylvania; still a lengthy drive from Exeter, but at least in the same time zone. Meanwhile, their volunteer efforts on behalf of Exeter continued to grow, as they served as chairs of the Class of 2025 Parent Committee beginning in 2021 and attended events such as Exeter Leadership Weekend, the fall program on campus open to parent and alumni volunteers. 

This fall, the Silvestris took over as National Chairs of the Parent Committee, making them the central touchpoint for some 125 parent volunteers who work to increase engagement and encourage giving on behalf of the Academy. “I truly appreciate their time and their efforts to engage other parents,” Duane says of his fellow committee members. “That's part of the strategy of making connections and creating community at Exeter.”

The impact of Harkness and non sibi

Along the way, the Silvestris have seen the positive impacts of Exeter on their three children. “Our dining table is kind of a Harkness table now,” Teri says. “Sometimes it's used to challenge our parenting, which isn't very fun, but other times it's a place where thoughtful, deep conversations happen.”

Teri particularly credits the school’s message of non sibi with shaping her kids’ growth from the beginning of their time on campus. She recalls Aiden getting help from older students in his dorm, then going on to help his younger peers, and Jenna asking for a small couch in her dorm room senior year so she could welcome other students into her room as a proctor. “You think at Exeter there's going to be this fierce competitiveness amongst the kids, and I'm sure that they still have that competitive drive and spirit within them,” she says. “But that non sibi spirit is, for me, one of the greatest things I’ve seen in terms of impacting my children's character.” 

Currently a sophomore at Princeton University, Aiden maintains close ties with Exeter. “He’s been back to campus probably four times [since he graduated] to meet friends there, and he was just traveling in China and met friends from Exeter there,” Duane says. “The connection continues wherever they go.”

After her graduation last spring, Jenna is spending a year teaching English in Spain before heading to the University of Chicago. Though she initially thought she would study screenwriting, her mother says, Jenna switched her focus to astrophysics after a transformative experience taking astronomy with Science Instructor John Blackwell her senior year.

These days, the Silvestris are savoring their visits to campus to see Aubrey, who plays soccer and works as an admissions tour guide, as well as their time spent connecting with other Exeter parents on campus and off. “We’re kind of sad that we’re down to the last one, and we only have two more years left,” Teri says.