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.”
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.
AJ Houston ’03 and Tom Kempner ’67
Search Committee Co-Chairs