SMH Celebrates Founders’ Day and Honors Master Teachers

A treasured tradition since 1998, Saint Mary's Hall held its annual Founders' Day ceremony on November 16. The SMH community gathered to celebrate the storied history of the school as well as the announcement of four Master Teacher Awards.

The event kicked off with a reading by student Juliana Cavazos ’22, followed by remarks from Board of Trustees Chair Rick Reyna, Head of School Len Miller, School Chaplain Dr. Fredericc Brock, and Form 3 Teacher Tracy Baker Sims.  

Reyna said, “As we enter our 143rd school year and a season of giving thanks, it’s important we recognize three groups who make up our Saint Mary’s Hall family: the founders of this institution who’ve come before us and who helped shape who we are, the parents who are currently partnering with the school to further our mission, and the teachers and educators who are here now transforming all of our lives.”

Head of School Len Miller shared a story of gratitude and benevolence, recognizing SMH founders and the generations of supporters since as giving a “gift” to be shared that extends to many in its blessings. He then encouraged students to follow the example of those founders: “…make others feel they belong; put your gifts into action by being a force for bringing people together,” said Miller.

To culminate the Founders' Day tradition, Miller introduced each of the four teachers who were recognized as distinguished winners of the SMH Master Teacher Award and shared comments from nominations by students, parents, and colleagues.

Established in 2002, the Master Teacher Awards honor one faculty member from each division and one "at large" faculty member based on written nominations from the SMH community. At Saint Mary's Hall, a Master Teacher is defined as someone who has “distinguished themselves through exemplary service to the school community and extraordinary performance leading to the progress of their students.”

Master Teachers 2021

Before recognizing this year’s Master Teachers, Miller remarked, “Though we honor four teachers today, every teacher who has ever been recognized for excellence in teaching will be the first to say that good teaching is not possible without great colleagues, staff, and support.”

The following extraordinary educators were awarded the distinction of Master Teacher:

  • Clea Underwood (Lower School) – Drama Teacher
  • Lourdes Saks (Middle School) – Spanish Teacher
  • Jamie Holbrook (Upper School) – Science Teacher
  • Patrick Cunningham (At-Large- Upper School)– Technical Director/Theater Manager/Scenic Designer

These beloved mentors were selected by the community to celebrate their inimitable impact on the lives of students and the SMH community as a whole. Watch the Founders' Day ceremony along with the reveal of the 2021 Master Teacher Awards.