Editor's Note

Editor’s Note: The bittersweet essence of September

How Holly McCaffrey’s story might serve as inspiration for kids starting up school again.

City & State

City & State City & State

Oh, that time of year again – back to school. Most students feel a mix of sadness that summer is ending paired with nervous excitement for the start of a new school year. For many, that excitement revolves around meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones and, in some cases, forming strong bonds with teachers who have an impact on their education – and maybe even their lives. 

In our current magazine, we dedicate a few pages to leaders in the state’s education sector and the inspirational teachers who they remember best. It’s a tribute to those who have a passion for learning, a willingness to effect change and a love for young people. And they deserve that recognition. 

Several years ago, I interviewed a senior from the Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia whose professor was looking out for her future in a big way. A fashion design major, Holly McCaffrey was hand-picked by the head of her department to design costumes for the smash-hit musical “Mamma Mia!” at the Merriam Theater. The odds of a college student’s sketches getting the attention of a major theater producer are pretty slim, but Holly said her own personal style – plus a little help from her professor – paved the way for the possibility. 

“My teacher and I had decided we would look at time periods and, based off the time periods of the show, go back to the source and create an entirely wearable collection from that,” she told me in 2016. (That, and she listened to a lot of ABBA, of course.) Holly said she started by taking several of the 1970s- and 80s-era costumes worn by the cast and updating them to her own modern versions. 

The result was a hit: Holly got a big break – and major exposure before graduation. I looked her up recently on LinkedIn and learned that for the past three years, she’s been an assistant costume designer for Broadway shows. Hopefully, she remembers to thank that teacher who listened when she said, “Take A Chance on Me”!