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High School Connections Blog by Head of High School Steve Soden

Thank you, Barb!

Each spring, we as a faculty bestow upon each of our graduating 12th graders a “legacy” as a way of memorializing their impact on the school. This is a uniquely MCDS tradition, and it speaks to one of our main goals as a faculty: knowing and appreciating each individual student. This past Friday, we said best wishes to our longtime Director of Finance and Operations, Barb Spurlin, as she entered retirement. In honor of her retirement, it is Barb’s turn to receive a legacy as well. Here it is:

I have to assume that the majority of phone calls and questions that come into the business office come with a desired outcome. Sometimes that desired outcome is stated overtly, sometimes it is implied, and sometimes it manifests itself as nothing more than a glimmer of hope in the mind of the one asking the question. And so it was for 13 years, as there Barb sat: responding on the other end of the telephone, sitting on the other side of the budgeting table, and always serving on the front lines.

Barb was a go-to person for so many because, regardless of what the desired outcome may have been, those of us who asked the questions always knew we would get a straight answer. As Ben Hebebrand mentioned in her farewell assembly, Barb focused on relationships, and her relationships were built on trust. There was never a hidden agenda with Barb; she acted in the best interests of the school and the students. In this sense, she was a leader. Her unflappable approach to what had the potential to be sticky situations made all of us want to do our jobs better. Barb raised the bar.

Nothing was ever a crisis with Barb. She said what she thought, and she always had reasons for it. She listened to different perspectives, thought through the possibilities, and rendered considered opinions. If she didn’t have an answer, she found an answer. Nobody I spoke to ever doubted Barb, and that was because she was honest with herself and with others.

There is a lesson to be learned when watching someone handle the tough questions and the tough situations, and I hope our students have picked up on some of that. We have all seen students find themselves in moments of perceived crisis. Perhaps the test didn’t go well, or college applications are on the horizon, or they had a falling out with their best friend. It is in those moments when I think to Barb and the example she set, and I wish that all of our students could have observed her in action. The advice I give to students in these situations is rooted in the same sorts of qualities I had the privilege of observing Barb display every day.

The school will continue to operate without Barb, of course. Tomorrow morning, our doors will open, and the bright, shining faces of our students will walk into the lobby. They will enjoy the buildings that would not exist without her and will make the most of the education she worked tirelessly to defend. Barb will not be standing in her familiar spot, welcoming students as she did every day for 13 years, but her impact will not be forgotten, and her legacy will never be lost. We are all better off for her having given so much of herself to our school and all of our wonderful kids.

For her steadying and caring nature, steadfast refusal to be drawn into crisis mode, and honest dependability, it is my pleasure to bestow upon Barb the legacy of “The Rock of River Road.”

Happy retirement, Barb! Thanks for everything.

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