Celebrating Our 2022 Barat Medal Recipients

Edited from Head of School Catherine Ronan Karrels '86 remarks at the Barat Reception in May 2022.

Each year, we award the Barat Medal to several leaders who we believe have made extraordinary contributions—volunteers, benefactors, or other stakeholders who are strategic thought leaders—people who have helped profoundly enrich the course of our mission through their actions. It is the highest honor that Stone Ridge presents to any non-student of the School.

Since early 2020, schools across our country scrambled to first pivot to virtual classrooms, and then rethink all facets of operations in order to safely bring our students back for in-person learning. Never in the history of the School have we seen such remarkable challenges and such a threat to our ability to safely keep our school open to sustain our mission.

I can say with absolute conviction that I could not be more proud of how Stone Ridge navigated this challenge. Our EdTech team, academic leaders and teachers pivoted time and time again to deliver quality instruction. Our facilities and maintenance teams made changes to campus, tripled down on disinfecting and cleaning,  and created new classrooms out of any and all available space. The staff learned how to operationalize everything electronically and how to market enrollment, fundraising, and communications on completely new platforms. Our decisions had to be timely, strategic, and incredibly precise. We needed help in understanding the science and medicine that would drive our decision-making. It seemed almost impossible to be true that we had the exact right combination of talent, expertise, and a willingness to assist us right in the walls of our own community. Within one day, we magically formed a world class Medical Advisory Committee. Forming this committee was an unparalleled experience in my 20+ years as a Head of School.

Given the range of their skill and expertise, this team was able to tag team on every challenge or topic we threw their way. Engaging in bi-weekly phone conference calls at 7:30 am on Tuesdays, we have leaned on them to interpret data and trends, help set protocol and policy, help educate our parents, students and employees. They assisted the school in setting up an on-campus antigen test lab before rapid tests were available at home; they have hosted numerous educational zoom calls for all of our stakeholders to help empower our community with information.

They have helped us work with the counseling team to ensure a thoughtful approach to the mental health of our community. When the vaccine became available, they set up an onsite clinic to make vaccinations easy for our families. They have patiently and painstakingly helped us consider every angle, every question, every concern of the many stakeholders who needed our care.

What strikes me most about this group is how dedicated, patient, and persistent they have been. They play well off of each other—each bringing a different skill and experience to the table. They have demonstrated a high degree of empathy for all of us, and they’ve been able to calmly and thoughtfully help the COVID Task Force and Administration give careful consideration to the range of needs of our diverse community.

In addition to benefiting from their guidance about science and medicine, on a personal level I have learned a lot from this team about leadership and life. The tone and energy of our meetings is always marked by generosity, genuine love for the members of our community, and believe it or not—a sense of optimism, gratitude, and joy.

They have modeled for me what it looks like to be firm but loving, to rely on data when the pull of emotion is strong, and to listen with compassion—even when your resources are low and your fuel tank is nearly empty.

I remember a call early in the pandemic when Dr. Hickey shared a lesson he learned in the military. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team.” It’s one of the most important leadership lessons that I think I’ve ever learned, and this team has proven the wisdom of that statement over and over again.

We are deeply grateful to our Medical Advisory Team: Dr. Stephen Evans (portrait below), (pictured from left to right) Dr. Steve Fong, Dr. Pat Hickey, Dr. Amy Richardson ’72, Dr. Mario Ortega, Dr. Ric LaGrange.

The team is standing with Head of School Catherine Karrrels '86, and Eric Osberg, Chief Administrative Officer (far right).

 

Barat Medal Awardees graphic.