About Us

Head of School Elect

The Board of Trustees is honored to announce the appointment of Joy Hurd as St. Bernard's next Head of School.  

Mr. Hurd was unanimously recommended by the Search Committee and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.  We hope you will read the letters from the Board and the Search Committee that were sent to our community on April 19. 

Mr. Hurd is currently the Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, a PreK-8th grade school in the Chicago suburbs.  He is committed to seeing his school through the upcoming academic year and will begin his tenure at St. Bernard’s in the summer of 2022.  We are fortunate that Evan Moraitis has graciously offered to serve a second year in his post as Interim Head of School.

The school’s motto, Perge Sed Caute, reminds us to go forward, but with great care, into this next chapter of the school’s history.  Our community will move into the future with optimistic determination, thoughtfully and without sacrificing any of the traditions that make St. Bernard’s the eccentric and wonderful place it has been since 1904. 

Joy S. Hurd IV

A Video Message from Mr. Hurd

St. Bernard's is pleased to announce Joy Hurd as our Head of School Elect.  Mr. Hurd, who taught seventh grade at St. Bernard’s from 2008 to 2012, has been Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, outside Chicago, for the last three years.  He is committed to seeing his school through the upcoming academic year and will begin his tenure at St. Bernard’s in the Summer of 2022.  Joy is someone who treasures St. Bernard’s unique DNA and values the intellectual grounding that boys derive from a traditional education. 

We are united in the belief that Joy Hurd is up to this challenging job, that he will bring unity to the school, that he will lead with integrity, and that he has the requisite qualities of preternatural charm, precocious maturity mixed with youthful enthusiasm, great didactic knowledge and managerial competence, and academic brilliance.

Mr. Hurd’s education at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, a Jesuit institution, ignited his intellectual interest in the study of Greek and Latin.  He majored in classics at Harvard College, where he graduated in 2006 magna cum laude with high honors in Greek and Latin, winning both the David Taggart Clark Prize for delivering the Commencement Latin Oration and the William Richardson King Prize for excellence in Greek and Latin language. He later studied at the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, where he earned an M.A. in Private School Leadership. More recently, he garnered another M.A., this time in English, from the Bread Loaf School of Middlebury College, where he studied American fiction post-1945, the teaching of literature through theater, medieval literature, the works of Faulkner and Ovid, modern poetry, creative non-fiction, creative writing, and imaginative work of children.

Mr. Hurd was widely respected and admired during his teaching days on 98th Street and has averred that his connection to St. Bernard’s as a teacher early in his career was instrumental to his emergence as an academic leader.  During that time, he was part of an Upper School dream team that was almost universally hailed for its quality of teaching.  At St. B’s, he worked closely with students as a seventh-grade homeroom teacher, taught advanced Latin grammar, English, and history, and worked in the secondary school placement office, taking pains to know each boy whom he had taught and writing the official recommendation letters for secondary schools for everyone.  He left to go to Teachers College, then became Director of the Upper School at Buckley from 2014 to 2018.  He has also taught Latin at Riverdale Country School and served as Assistant Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions there.  He has on a volunteer basis collaborated with Harlem Academy.  He was founding board chair of the Academy for Teachers, an organization dedicated to honoring and supporting teachers in and around New York City, and remains on its board.  He also serves on the advisory board of the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, which promotes the appreciation of the classical humanities.  He defines himself as “an educator who insists on remaining a student.”  

But it would be reductive and inappropriate to describe Mr. Hurd entirely in terms of his resume, because he is a more inspired and inspiring educator than a catalogue of facts can communicate.  He is remembered as “astute, diligent, and endlessly curious” by one of his colleagues from his St. Bernard’s days, and he is described as “intelligent, kind, and of good humor” by another.

Mr. Hurd wrote, “Teaching is about knowing students for who they are and not just what they know or can do.  It means helping them figure out and become the people they want to be.  Empathy is the foundation of great teaching and strong school communities, and it is what children need most from the adults in their lives.  At my school I felt ‘known and loved,’ to use the phrase of the late Tony Jarvis, former head of Roxbury Latin School.  For some, his phrase is a deficient, impractical view of what schools should do.  Where’s the math?  The English?  The history?  The 21st-century skills?  All those essential elements are in Jarvis’s phrase, because to teach anything well is to know and love both what and whom you teach.”

Mr. Hurd has spoken of how his own life was changed by the high school Latin teacher who recognized a spark in him that had been dormant.  It was then that he began a lifelong commitment to the humanities.  “I learned that while we cannot know all that there is to know, it’s fun to try,” he explained.  After he finished Harvard in 2006 and two years of teaching high-school classics after that, he imagined a PhD in philosophy and a life in a university, but a friend who was teaching at St. Bernard’s encouraged Stuart Johnson to invite him in to observe classes. Soon after that first meeting, Mr. Johnson invited him to join the faculty—an invitation that Mr. Hurd immediately and enthusiastically accepted.  While his academic spark had been lit by a high school teacher, he saw at St. Bernard’s an opportunity to awaken burgeoning intellects even earlier.  He discovered the great fun and opportunity to be found in the teaching of younger students.  “The excitement of those boys was contagious,” he recalled.  “They were getting in elementary school an academic experience I didn’t get even in high school.  The emphasis on general cultural erudition was so clearly part of the curriculum: in mental aerobics, in the choice of books for the students to read, and in the whole approach to teaching.  It was a revelation, and I soon found myself learning new things from and with elementary school students.  I became a better writer because of those boys and that context.  I loved the affinity for knowledge at St. Bernard’s.”  A St. Bernard’s education, he said, opens up young minds to experiences that will serve and enrich them across a lifetime.  

Times of transition are always fraught, and the past year at St. Bernard’s has offered many challenges.  It is now time to look forward to a future in which the school will be a shining example of how tradition and innovation, rigor and fun, seriousness and idiosyncrasy can remain at the foundation of a modern education.  There is no other place like St. Bernard’s, and Joy Hurd understands that well.  We hope he will lead the school for many years, and we genuinely believe that St. Bernard’s could not have found a better leader.  

We look forward to welcoming Joy, his wife, Emily, and their fourteen-month-old daughter, Eleanor, to St. Bernard’s next summer.  Between now and then, our next Head of School is excited to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones, over a series of Zooms and in-person meetings with faculty, parents, and Old Boys.

SEARCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS

AJ Houston '03, Co-Chair
Thomas L. Kempner, Jr. '67, P '97, P '01, GP '28, Past President of the Board of Trustees, Co-Chair

Oliver Bowcock, Head of Upper School
Christopher BradyGrade V Teacher, Professional Development
John S. Brodie ’79, Former Co-President of the Old Boys Council (2014-2020)
Erin Drouin P ’23Former President of the Parents Association (2019-2020)
Andrea DuBois P ’22, ’28Co-Chair of The Community Gathering Committee
Andrew HagonHead of Junior School
Eugenie Goodman P ’24Parents Association Nominating Committee Member
Kitty Gordan P ’92Former Associate Head of The Nightingale-Bamford School
Jennifer Rich P ’26Co-Chair of the Parents Association Annual Benefit
Andrew Solomon P ’23Author, Activist, and Parent
Antonio Weiss ’80, P ’12, P ’16, P ’18Old Boy, Past Parent, Former Trustee

SEARCH COMMITTEE LETTERS

List of 9 items.

  • Letters from the Board of Trustees and the Search Committee Announcing Head of School Elect Joy Hurd - April 19, 2021


    Dear Members of the St. Bernard’s Community,
     
    Last summer, the Search Committee began looking for St. Bernard’s next Head of School, and over the past six months the Committee reviewed just under fifty candidates. In recent weeks, the field narrowed to four highly qualified finalists.
     
    It is with great pleasure that we now share the news that Joy Hurd will be St. Bernard’s next Head of School. Joy was unanimously recommended by the Search Committee and unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees. He is someone who treasures St. Bernard’s unique DNA and values the intellectual grounding that boys derive from a traditional education. 
     
    Joy is currently the Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, a PreK-8th grade school in the Chicago suburbs. He is committed to seeing his school through the upcoming academic year and will begin his tenure at St. Bernard’s in the Summer of 2022. 
     
    We are fortunate that Evan Moraitis has graciously offered to serve a second year in his interim post. We cannot thank Evan enough for his extraordinary leadership during this uniquely challenging time and his selfless devotion to the school.
     
    Growing up in Cleveland, Joy graduated from St. Ignatius High School, where he was his class valedictorian. It is there that he fell in love with the classics, and in 2006 he graduated from Harvard College with high honors in Greek and Latin.  Two years later, he joined the St. Bernard’s faculty as a Grade VII homeroom teacher, eventually adding exmissions advisor to his portfolio of responsibilities. He credits being part of an Upper School faculty that included such gifted teachers as Oliver Bowcock and Robin Clements as a formative influence on his professional development.
     
    In 2012, he set off from St. Bernard's for graduate studies in Private School Leadership through the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. More recently, he earned a master’s degree in English literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.
     
    After his studies at Columbia, Joy taught Latin and served as Assistant Director of Middle & Upper School Admissions at Riverdale Country School before joining Buckley, where he was the Director of the Upper School and an English teacher.
     
    Joy has been in his current role at Lake Forest Country Day School for the past three years. The school has four hundred students and an operating budget of $10.3 million. During his tenure there, he oversaw the final phase of the school’s $12 million capital campaign and helped build the endowment to the highest level in the school’s history.  He brought up the number of applicants by nearly 30 percent. He has led his school community through the COVID-19 crisis, bringing students, faculty, and staff safely back to campus this year for a full-day, full-week program.  
     
    We look forward to welcoming Joy, his wife, Emily, and their fourteen-month-old daughter, Eleanor, to St. Bernard’s next summer. Between now and then, our next Head of School is excited to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones, over a series of Zooms and in-person meetings with faculty, parents, and Old Boys.

    Finally, we would like to thank co-chairs AJ Houston ’03, Tom Kempner ’67, and their Search Committee colleagues for all their hard work. We are also appreciative to all three-hundred and fifty of you who shared your opinions and submitted valuable input, specifically bringing several excellent candidates to the Search Committee’s attention. Thanks also goes to our search firm Spencer Stuart for conducting a thorough and efficient process. To learn more about the Search Committee’s process, please have a look a Head of School Search page.

    The appointment of a new head is an important and positive milestone in a challenging year. As the Liebolt trees begin to bloom along 98th Street and more and more of our community becomes vaccinated, it is hard not to be optimistic about our school as we proceed cautiously into the future. As the line from The Old Boys Song reminds us, “Happy the hours when the world lay before us, Budding and bright in the spring of the year.”

    Sincerely,

    The Board of Trustees

     

    April 19, 2021

    Dear Members of the St. Bernard’s Community,

    The Search Committee is pleased to share with you our recommendation of Joy Hurd to serve as the next Head of School of St. Bernard’s, as well as the reasons for our recommendation. Mr. Hurd, who taught seventh grade at St. Bernard’s from 2008 to 2012, has been Head of School at Lake Forest Country Day School, outside Chicago, for the last three years.  

    The Search Committee’s recommendation was not arrived at lightly.  We looked for someone who would sustain the particular character of St. Bernard’s and yet bring a fresh perspective to the enterprise.  First and foremost, we wanted a scholarly and literate leader who could sustain the school’s impeccable intellectual standards.  St. Bernard’s is remarkable for its commitment to learning for its own sake, its emphasis on the beauty of knowledge, and we needed someone who manifests that ideal.  We wanted someone who believed in the value of single-sex education and who envisioned the school as a place where the character of young boys is formed, where they learn decency, kindness, and even chivalry.  We emphasized the fundamental precepts of the culture of St. Bernard’s, seeking someone who appreciated the school’s quirkiness, its eccentricity, its brilliant originality: its Christmas carols and Shakespeare play and alligator and mental aerobics.  We sought someone inspired by supporting brilliant teaching.  St. Bernard’s has always placed tremendous emphasis on exceptional pedagogy, and we would not waver in that steadfastness.  We needed a Head of School who was himself a teacher and who understood the nature of great teaching.  

    We searched for someone who would commit to ensuring that St. Bernard’s follows through on programs of diversity, equity, and inclusion, a process that feels more urgent than ever in these complex times.  We required someone charismatic, who could stand in front of the assembled school and inspire the boys and their teachers and parents to give their very best.  Finally, we needed a person of sound judgment and organizational skills, someone with experience running a school, someone who we believed could handle the job’s accessory demands: fundraising, managing school operations, identifying, supporting and retaining the best possible faculty and staff, meeting the expectations of the parents, and sustaining the loyalty of the Old Boys.  We required someone who would connect with the boys themselves, preserving the mix of the intimate and the impressive that has characterized our past headmasters.  We recognized that the new Head of School would have very big shoes to fill.  

    This was an exacting set of requirements.  Most of the candidates with whom we met excelled in some of these areas, and four qualified finalists had achieved distinction in all of them.  We are united in the belief that Joy Hurd is up to this challenging job, that he will bring unity to the school, that he will lead with integrity, and that he has the requisite qualities of preternatural charm, precocious maturity mixed with youthful enthusiasm, great didactic knowledge and managerial competence, and academic brilliance.  Though it was difficult to turn away from other well-qualified candidates, the Search Committee was unanimous in selecting him.

    Mr. Hurd’s education at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, a Jesuit institution, ignited his intellectual interest in the study of Greek and Latin.  He majored in classics at Harvard College, where he graduated in 2006 magna cum laude with high honors in Greek and Latin, winning both the David Taggart Clark Prize for delivering the Commencement Latin Oration and the William Richardson King Prize for excellence in Greek and Latin language. He later studied at the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, where he earned an M.A. in Private School Leadership. More recently, he garnered another M.A., this time in English, from the Bread Loaf School of Middlebury College, where he studied American fiction post-1945, the teaching of literature through theater, medieval literature, the works of Faulkner and Ovid, modern poetry, creative non-fiction, creative writing, and imaginative work of children.

    Mr. Hurd was widely respected and admired during his teaching days on 98th Street and has averred that his connection to St. Bernard’s as a teacher early in his career was instrumental to his emergence as an academic leader.  During that time, he was part of an Upper School dream team that was almost universally hailed for its quality of teaching.  At St. B’s, he worked closely with students as a seventh-grade homeroom teacher, taught advanced Latin grammar, English, and history, and worked in the secondary school placement office, taking pains to know each boy whom he had taught and writing the official recommendation letters for secondary schools for everyone.  He left to go to Teachers College, then became Director of the Upper School at Buckley from 2014 to 2018.  He has also taught Latin at Riverdale Country School and served as Assistant Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions there.  He has on a volunteer basis collaborated with Harlem Academy.  He was founding board chair of the Academy for Teachers, an organization dedicated to honoring and supporting teachers in and around New York City, and remains on its board.  He also serves on the advisory board of the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study, which promotes the appreciation of the classical humanities.  He defines himself as “an educator who insists on remaining a student.”  

    Lake Forest Country Day is a coeducational school that goes from preschool to eighth grade, with sixty-two faculty and twenty-four staff serving four hundred students and an operating budget of $10.3 million.  Within two years, Mr. Hurd oversaw the final phase of the school’s $12 million capital campaign and helped build the endowment to the highest level in LFCDS history.  He led the school through a two-year self-study and reaccreditation process with the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, culminating in a successful reaccreditation.  He brought up the number of applicants by nearly 30 percent during his time there and strengthened the school’s already impressive record in both the humanities and the sciences.  He has led his school community through the COVID-19 crisis, bringing students, faculty, and staff safely back to campus this year for a full-day, full-week program.  There he has been, as at St. Bernard’s he will be, supported by his wife, Emily, and their fourteen-month-old daughter, Eleanor.  

    But it would be reductive and inappropriate to describe Mr. Hurd entirely in terms of his resume, because he is a more inspired and inspiring educator than a catalogue of facts can communicate.  He is remembered as “astute, diligent, and endlessly curious” by one of his colleagues from his St. Bernard’s days, and he is described as “intelligent, kind, and of good humor” by another.

    In a statement he shared with the Search Committee, he wrote, “Teaching is about knowing students for who they are and not just what they know or can do.  It means helping them figure out and become the people they want to be.  Empathy is the foundation of great teaching and strong school communities, and it is what children need most from the adults in their lives.  At my school I felt ‘known and loved,’ to use the phrase of the late Tony Jarvis, former head of Roxbury Latin School.  For some, his phrase is a deficient, impractical view of what schools should do.  Where’s the math?  The English?  The history?  The 21st-century skills?  All those essential elements are in Jarvis’s phrase, because to teach anything well is to know and love both what and whom you teach.”

    In conversations with the committee, he spoke of how his own life was changed by the high school Latin teacher who recognized a spark in him that had been dormant.  It was then that he began a lifelong commitment to the humanities.  “I learned that while we cannot know all that there is to know, it’s fun to try,” he explained.  After he finished Harvard in 2006 and two years of teaching high-school classics after that, he imagined a PhD in philosophy and a life in a university, but a friend who was teaching at St. Bernard’s encouraged Stuart Johnson to invite him in to observe classes. Soon after that first meeting, Mr. Johnson invited him to join the faculty—an invitation that Mr. Hurd immediately and enthusiastically accepted.  While his academic spark had been lit by a high school teacher, he saw at St. Bernard’s an opportunity to awaken burgeoning intellects even earlier.  He discovered the great fun and opportunity to be found in the teaching of younger students.  “The excitement of those boys was contagious,” he recalled.  “They were getting in elementary school an academic experience I didn’t get even in high school.  The emphasis on general cultural erudition was so clearly part of the curriculum: in mental aerobics, in the choice of books for the students to read, and in the whole approach to teaching.  It was a revelation, and I soon found myself learning new things from and with elementary school students.  I became a better writer because of those boys and that context.  I loved the affinity for knowledge at St. Bernard’s.”  A St. Bernard’s education, he said, opens up young minds to experiences that will serve and enrich them across a lifetime.  

    During the committee’s extensive deliberations, the views of our faculty members Oliver Bowcock, Chris Brady, and Andy Hagon proved crucial for the rest of us, as they will work directly with the new Head of School on a daily basis.  All three worked with Mr. Hurd when he taught at St. Bernard’s, and all three have heartily endorsed his return to the school.  Speaking for the parents, we benefitted from the contributions of Andrea DuBois, Eugenie Goodman, Jennifer Rich, Andrew Solomon, and former Parents Association chair Erin Drouin; they insisted that the parent community must continue to feel that their sons were receiving the quality and nature of education that had led them to choose St. Bernard’s in the first place.  On behalf of the Old Boys, John Brodie ‘79, Antonio Weiss ‘80, and the committee chairs emphasized sustaining the traditions that have kept the alumni so loyal to the school.  Additionally, former parent and current St. Bernard’s trustee, prior Associate Head of Nightingale-Bamford School, Kitty Gordan shared her knowledge and insights learned from over 40 years of experience in education. We likewise thank Spencer Stuart, the executive search and leadership consulting firm we hired to assist us with this process.  

    Times of transition are always fraught, and the past year at St. Bernard’s has offered many challenges.  It is now time to look forward to a future in which the school will be a shining example of how tradition and innovation, rigor and fun, seriousness and idiosyncrasy can remain at the foundation of a modern education.  There is no other place like St. Bernard’s, and Joy Hurd understands that well.  We hope he will lead the school for many years, and we genuinely believe that St. Bernard’s could not have found a better leader.  

    We look forward to bright days ahead for the institution we all love.

    Sincerely yours,

    AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
    Search Committee Co-Chairs
  • Finalizing Candidates - February 23, 2021


    Dear Members of the St. Bernard's Community,
     
    We are writing to keep you apprised of the search committee’s ongoing work as we finalize our selection of a new Head of School for St. Bernard’s.  We appreciate your feedback on last month’s letter and remain eager for any other thoughts you may wish to share.  Your support, advice, and enthusiasm are extremely valuable to our committee, and the names you have sent to us have made the search both richer and easier.  As the committee heads into the final stage, we wanted to update you on the process and allay some concerns that members of the community have shared with us in private.
     
    Our search committee colleagues have all been incredibly participative and diligent.  As we have indicated previously, our committee is its own independent entity, completely separate from the Board, that draws its membership from every major constituency of our community to ensure that all points of view are represented: faculty, current parents, past parents, and Old Boys.  Our faculty representation spans each of the three divisions and combined has nearly 60 years of classroom experience.  We are also fortunate to have the academic and administrative wisdom of a long-tenured, former associate head and faculty member of one of our sister schools.  The five current parents, whose boys run the gamut from first to seventh grades, are immersed in St. Bernard’s on a daily basis and have provided invaluable insight into both the strengths of the school and the opportunities for its future.  Finally, we have four Old boys whose time at 4 East 98th Street ranges from the 1960’s to the 2000’s. Their affection for the school and their innate understanding of its past will help to safeguard its future.
     
    The search committee is making steady progress towards our goal of announcing a new Head of School before the end of the academic year, if not sooner.  Tom, having been involved in a handful of Head of Organization searches in the past (e.g. Central Park Conservancy and Harvard Management Company), has found that presenting one individual to the community is best practice and is necessary under our circumstances.  We are obliged to protect the confidentiality of the finalists; all of them currently hold excellent jobs in which they will likely continue, if this job doesn’t come through for them.  It would compromise their standing at the school where they work for it to be broadly known that they have entertained the possibility of leaving.  For this reason, they all insisted on anonymity and we complied. Thus, we are not in a position to share their names, and cannot do so after the process is finalized.
     
    Some of you have asked why a larger subset of the community can’t meet the finalists.  The primary reason is the confidentiality concern described above.  In addition, we want to assure you that your representatives, rather like members of the Electoral College, are doing all that we can to make sure that we represent each of the constituencies at St. Bernard’s, which was our objective when we formed this group.   While discussions have been spirited, decisions have been unified. Whether you’re a parent, faculty member or Old Boy, rest assured your opinion has been voiced, heard and debated by your representatives.
     
    Given the current pandemic environment, all four finalists have expressed a moral commitment to see their institution through this unsettling time with as little additional disruption as possible.  As we engage these candidates over longer, more intense interviews, we constantly remind ourselves that our goal and ultimately the measure of our success is finding the best person to lead our school for the next decade, if not longer.  We are extremely confident that each of these educators is capable of achieving this.  Having finalists who all have the makings of a superb next Head of School is an advantageous position.  Not having known ahead of time who would be interested in the job, we have been profoundly impressed by the quality of the applicants in general and by these finalists in particular, each of whom understands and has the capacity to sustain what the community recognizes as the singular strengths of our school.
     
    When the time comes to anoint our top candidate, the voice and opinion of every committee member will have been heard, honored, and counted equally.  Like any good jury, we aim to reach a strong unanimous consensus. 
     
    Our school is also extremely privileged to be able to leverage the strength and resilience of such an amazing faculty and staff.  They are the unsung heroes who make our school what it is, and we owe them an immense amount of gratitude for remaining so steadfast in providing outstanding education to our boys.  Furthermore, Mr. Moraitis’ leadership has been outstanding.  We are not only thankful for his extraordinary ability to lead during these times, but also for his gracious offer to serve a second year in his interim post should our candidate not be able to begin until the summer of 2022.
     
    Our search is in a strong place.  We have a group of four phenomenal finalists, a highly representative, dedicated search committee, and a school that is currently in the hands of some of the best faculty in the world.  While we can’t invite everyone into what fans of the musical Hamilton would call “the Zoom where it happens,” we will continue to communicate in as inclusive and transparent a manner as possible, as we hear the voices of our community.
     
    Our entire committee thanks the St. Bernard’s community for your continued support throughout this process.
     
    Sincerely,

    AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
    Search Committee Co-Chairs
  • Candidates - January 26, 2021


    Dear Members of the St. Bernard's Community,

    We are writing to update you on the progress of our Head of School search.  Our Search Committee, which is composed of faculty, parents, past parents, and Old Boys, has been extremely busy in January, and we remain tremendously grateful to our committee colleagues for all their hard work.  We are equally grateful to all of you who have submitted valuable input, specifically nominating several excellent candidates.

    During November and December, the Search Committee reviewed just under fifty candidates of which 19% were women and 13% were people of color.  Through diligent study of their CVs and other pertinent information, we narrowed the list down to eight semi-finalists.  Earlier this month, our committee spent two days hosting 75-minute, individual Zoom interviews for each semi-finalist, concluding by culling our list down to four finalists.  It has been encouraging to hear from the candidates that our humble, little school is known as a bastion of academic rigor, eccentricity, and good fun.  Being its head remains a coveted position.  We are confident that the remaining candidates “get St. Bernard’s” and would be respectful of its traditions.  We now look forward to longer, more intense interviews with the four finalists.
     
    We are tasked with finding the best person to lead our community and we remain comfortable with our timetable of announcing one final individual to the community and the Board by the end of the school year.
     
    We thank the entire St. Bernard’s community for your continued support, advice, enthusiasm and patience throughout this process.

    Sincerely,
    AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
    Search Committee Co-Chairs
  • Search Update - December 16, 2020


    Dear Members of the St. Bernard's Community,
     
    We would like to provide a quick update.  As we mentioned last month, your feedback was instrumental in developing the Opportunity Statement about which we could not be more pleased.

    The search has gotten off to a strong start.  Our Spencer Stuart team has had extensive conversations with many impressive candidates who hold St. Bernard’s in very high regard.  We have identified a number of extremely compelling educational leaders interested in the opportunity.  In the coming months, we will continue to engage with these people, as we consider who is best suited to lead our extraordinary and unique institution.  Our committee discussions have been lively, probing, and fruitful with the type of diversity in both opinion and thought that we believe will help yield the type of leader whom we all seek.  We intend to communicate in as transparent a manner as possible, providing informative periodic updates, while recognizing that we will need to honor the confidentiality of our candidates.

    As always, we welcome your comments, feedback, and nominations at StBernardsHead@SpencerStuart.com.  We thank our search committee colleagues for their continued hard work and we wish everyone in the community a wonderful holiday season and new year!

    Sincerely, 
    AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
    Search Committee Co-Chairs
  • Opportunity Statement - November 18, 2020


    Dear Members of the St. Bernard's Community,
     
    We wanted to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you who participated in the video conversations with Spencer Stuart and to the more than 340 of you who shared your perspectives on our online community survey.  These past few weeks have yet again reminded us how extraordinary our community is.  

    Since early October, we have held listening sessions with faculty, administrators, staff, Old Boys, and parents to hear your advice on the attributes, characteristics, and experiences you would most value in the next Head of School. Equally, if not more important, we have heard what you value most about our school, our culture, and what truly makes it so distinctive. 

    All of this input was instrumental in developing the Opportunity Statement for the Head of School search.  We hope you see the St. Bernard’s you love and treasure reflected in this important document.  

    This is an extraordinary school and we are seeking an extraordinary leader. We are grateful to those who were able to participate and continue to look forward to hearing from all of you as we continue this process. We welcome your comments, feedback, and nominations at StBernardsHead@SpencerStuart.com.

    We again thank our search committee colleagues for their continued hard work and we wish everyone in the community a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

    Sincerely, 

    AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
    Search Committee Co-Chairs
  • Gathering Community Input - October 20, 2020


    Dear Parents, Faculty, Old Boys, and Friends,

    We have reached an important phase in our Head of School search—listening to feedback from all of you.  Last week, Spencer Stuart began holding Zoom listening sessions with members of the St. Bernard’s community.  This will continue through the end of October. Each conversation will cover the following four questions:
    • What is most distinctive about St. Bernard’s?  What do you most value about the School?
    • What are the opportunities and challenges facing the next Head of School of St. Bernard's?
    • What experiences, background, characteristics, and attributes would you encourage the Search Committee to seek in the next Head of School?
    • What advice do you have for the Search Committee?
    In addition to the virtual sessions, we are sharing below a link to an online survey to collect further input and thoughts that will inform the work of the search committee and help develop a position specification.  We encourage everyone to participate and to complete the survey by Friday, October 30, at 6:00 p.m.

    Head of School Search Community Survey 

    Best,

    AJ and Tom
  • Spencer Stuart Announcement - October 1, 2020


    Dear Parents, Faculty, Old Boys, and Friends,
     
    We are pleased to update you on the recent progress of the Head of School Search Committee. 
     
    Our committee’s first order of business was to select a search firm.  After extensive research, we selected Spencer Stuart, a nationally recognized firm that has completed Head of School searches for Chapin, Fieldston, Browning, Phillips Academy (Andover), and Hopkins School in New Haven amongst a host of others.  The two aspects we found most appealing were: (1) The firm has deep experience in finding successors to long-serving heads, searching broadly and creatively for top talent and (2) they offered an experienced team, including two prominent leaders in the field to undertake this crucial process with us.  Mary Gorman, Michele Haertel, and Tiffany Pollack, all members of the firm’s Education & Nonprofit Practice, will serve as our team.  Mary and Michele have built the firm’s independent school practice, and Michele leads Spencer Stuart’s Education & Nonprofit Practice.  Tiffany has been a key partner in independent school work since joining the firm.  Tom also has close, prior experience with Michele having worked with her on a successful search for the President of the Central Park Conservancy. 

    We intend to identify and attract the best person to lead our school over the next decade or decades.  We have set a goal of introducing him or her to our community before the summer of 2021.  We note this timing could shift given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We recognize that the person we choose may be unable to begin at St. Bernard’s until the fall of 2022 – either because of notice provisions attached to his or her current job or because of a moral commitment to seeing his or her institution through these unsettling times.  We have prioritized attracting the best person over the timing of that person’s arrival.  In this instance, Mr. Moraitis has graciously agreed to serve a second year in his interim post. 
     
    We intend to communicate in as inclusive and transparent a manner as possible, providing informative periodic updates, while recognizing that we will need to honor requests for confidentiality from candidates.
     
    We will begin the process by asking Spencer Stuart to spend time with members of the St. Bernard’s community, learning what makes our school so distinctive, hearing your ambitions for its future, and understanding what we are seeking in the next head of school.  In the coming weeks, Spencer Stuart will conduct Zoom calls with many in the St. Bernard’s community and will share a survey with all.  Please stay tuned for additional information on these sessions.  We on the search committee are eager for your input, and your thoughts will help us develop a compelling description of our next head of school.  If you wish to contact the Spencer Stuart team directly, they can be reached at StBernardsHead@spencerstuart.com.  Additionally, please feel free to continue sending your much-valued input and thoughts to our search committee inbox, search@stbernards.org.
     
    We conclude by thanking all our committee colleagues for the time and effort they continue to invest in this process.
     
    Best,

    AJ and Tom
  • Introducing the Search Committee - July 17, 2020


    Dear Parents, Faculty, Old Boys and Friends,

    As St. Bernard’s embarks on the quest for a new head of school, we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the members of the Search Committee and share with you how the process will work.  The goal is to conduct an open and transparent search, one in which each of you can play a part.

    The Search Committee begins the process with what one of Mr. Mark Hauser’s budding classicists might call a tabula rasa, a blank slate that we will need your help to complete.  Once a search firm is retained in the next few weeks, it will begin canvassing parents, faculty, and Old Boys about their thoughts on the qualities for an ideal head of school.  This input will help to create the blueprint for the search.  We encourage you to think creatively and expansively. 

    As the search progresses, we plan on being as transparent as possible.  We will share our approach, our goals and our key developments through regular updates on the school website and through e-mails.  Obviously, we will not be able to share the names of candidates.

    At the outset it is important to mention that everyone on the committee treasures St. Bernard’s unique DNA and understands the intellectual grounding the boys derive from a traditional education.  We share a commitment to making sure that the school remains true to its past as it moves forward into the future.  If the events of 2020—be it a shift to remote learning caused by the COVID–19 pandemic or our nation grappling with continued systemic injustice—have taught us anything, it is that a leader of a boys’ school must be able to pick a point on the horizon, resist the crosswinds of academic fads, yet be open-minded enough to take decisive action when the world is changing in historic ways and the boys require new skills and resources to deal with these changes.

    To ensure that all voices are heard, the Search Committee’s members have been selected from all of our major constituencies: faculty, parents, past parents and Old Boys.  Andy Hagon and Oliver Bowcock, the heads of the Junior and Upper School, respectively, will be representing the faculty along with Chris Brady, a favorite teacher in the Middle School.  Together, these gentlemen embody 59 years of classroom experience at 4 East 98th Street.  They understand that when it comes to boys, character, integrity, and kindness are as important as intellectual accomplishment.  They know the importance of teaching boys to prize learning before grades, to take pleasure in helping others, and to do their very best with what they have.

    The committee will also benefit from the academic and administrative wisdom and experience of Bob Miness, the former Head of the Upper School and Secondary School Placement, as well as Kitty Gordan, who is a former parent, the current chair of the school’s Academic Committee and previously the 25 year Associate Head of School at Nightingale-Bamford, where she was a member of the faculty for 44 years.

    The committee will include parents from all three divisions: Junior School, Middle School, and Upper School.  They are Andrea DuBois, the mother of a first and seventh grader and the co-chair of the Parents Association’s Community Gathering Committee, Jennifer Rich, the parent of a third grader and the co-chair of the annual benefit three years running, Eugenie Goodman, the mother of a fifth grader and a member of the Nominating Committee of the Parents Association, and Erin Drouin, the outgoing President of the Parents Association and the mother of a sixth grader.  Rounding out this constituency will be another sixth grade parent, Andrew Solomon, a National Book Award-winning author, and an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, and the arts.  Their insights will be invaluable as they see the strengths of the school on a daily basis.

    In addition to the co-chairs of the committee, the interests of our Old Boys will be looked after by Antonio Weiss ’80, a past parent and former trustee, and John Brodie ’79, who is a former co-president of the Old Boys Council and a former trustee.

    Search Committee co-chair AJ Houston ’03 is a founding member of the Old Boys Diversity Council and serves on the Athletic, Diversity, and Investment Committees of the Board of Trustees.  After St. Bernard’s, he graduated from the Taft School and Dartmouth College where he played varsity football and majored in Classical Studies with a focus on Latin.  He works in Global Equity Trading at the Royal Bank of Canada and to this day credits John Demeny’s Mental Aerobics class with giving him numerous fun facts at his fingertips.  Or as he says, “I still can remember the names of the lions outside of the 42nd Street New York Public Library: Patience and Fortitude.”

    Fellow co-chair Tom Kempner is also an Old Boy, a former parent and a current St. Bernard’s grandparent.  Tom’s experience with the school began in 1959 in Mrs. Ashton’s first grade classroom, which was just to the left of what we today call the Small Gym.  By his own admission, he was “disorganized and unfocused,” and he credits his strong personal relationships with a few faculty members for teaching him intellectual curiosity and a love of learning.  Tom and his two sons believe that St. Bernard’s was the finest education they received in their entire academic careers.  Tom is committed to seeing that his grandson, currently a rising first grader, will concur with this sentiment. 

    Tom would come to serve as a trustee for 19 years, and be the Chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2007 during which time he worked closely with Stuart Johnson, and watched firsthand as Stuart improved the school with each passing year and became an icon in the process.  Outside of St. Bernard’s, Tom has presided over a number of important searches including those for the President of the Harvard Management Company and that for the President of the Central Park Conservancy, on whose board he serves as Chairman.

    We look forward to hearing from you and meeting with many of you—even if only via Zoom.  The next great head of St. Bernard’s may be someone of whom you are already aware, so please don’t hesitate to share your ideas.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    AJ Houston ’03
    Thomas L. Kempner ’67
    Co-chairs of the Search Committee

    Full List of Search Committee Members
    Search for Head of School Webpage
  • Letter from Craig Huff, President of the Board of Trustees - July 8, 2020


    To Members of the St. Bernard’s Community:

    I am writing to give you an update on the primary activities that the Board is focused on this summer.  They are the following: (1) supporting Evan Moraitis and the faculty with school reopening preparations; (2) making substantive progress with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging issues; (3) launching the search for the next Headmaster; and (4) commencing a governance review and board refreshment.

    School Reopening Preperations
    Evan and the faculty/staff (as well as several talented parent volunteers) are working hard to ensure that St. Bernard’s is ready to open in a safe and thoughtful manner this fall.  They are looking forward to having our boys back at 4 East 98th Street.  The Board is supporting their efforts and making sure the various committees (Health/Safety, Academics/Teaching, Technology/Organization, Building, and Schedules) have all of the resources that they need, both from an expertise and financial perspective.  Evan will be communicating specifics about the reopening plan in the coming weeks.

    Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
    Recent tragic events have highlighted the importance of addressing racial inequality and inherent biases, and we have therefore intensified our focus on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  The Board Diversity Committee, the Old Boys Diversity Council, and the Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee are in dialogue about how St. Bernard’s can make meaningful progress with respect to these important issues.  Specific recommendations will be shared with the Board later this month and communicated to the St. Bernard’s community shortly thereafter.

    Search Process
    The Headmaster search will be inclusive and seek input from the entire St. Bernard’s community.  A separate correspondence will provide details about the search committee and process, but I am very pleased that this committee will be co-chaired by two Old Boys: Tom Kempner ’67 and A.J. Houston ’03.  Tom is a past parent, a current grandparent, and was President of the Board of Trustees until twelve years ago.  A.J. has been a valuable member of the Board since 2012.  He is a member of the Diversity Committee, Investment Committee, chairs the Athletic Committee, and also serves on the Old Boys Diversity Council.  The search committee will reflect a cross-section of Old Boys, faculty, and parents.  The search committee is committed to selecting a Headmaster who fully appreciates how special, distinctive, and rigorous a St. Bernard’s education is, and who also understands its unique character.
     
    Governance Review/Board Refreshment
    As we embark on this important transition, it is also an ideal time to consider our school’s governance.  The Board has committed to undertake a review of the governance procedures and processes reflected in our by-laws, including Board composition (% Old Boys, % parents, etc.) and committee structures.  This review will be conducted by a committee which will include non-trustee parents and Old Boys with governance and legal expertise.  This committee will also utilize the services of a third-party governance expert.  Further details about this process will be provided later this month.  NYSAIS, our accrediting body, will also be reviewing our governance this year as part of our regular 5-year accreditation process.

    In addition, as part of the process of moving forward productively, the Board will be going through a refreshment process.  During the 2020-2021 school year, our intention is to refresh a significant percentage of the Board, including myself and several chairs of committees whose terms end.  The goal is to provide the community and the next Headmaster with a refreshed Board as St. Bernard’s starts its next chapter.

    You will receive further updates on these priorities over the next few weeks as we make progress on them.  Enjoy the rest of your summer - St. Bernard’s looks forward to welcoming you back in the fall.

    Sincerely,

    Craig Huff
    President, Board of Trustees
    St. Bernard’s School
The Search Committee appreciates the thoughtful input it received from the St. Bernard’s community.  To ask a question about the search process or the head of school transition, e-mail search@stbernards.org.