By Regina DreyWhen Bill Barrett and his three sons arrived in Denver after driving 27 hours from Bedford, N.Y., he was greeted with streamers and Wildcat mascot pawprints and a large tray overflowing with drawings and messages. The messages contained wise and sometimes humorous advice from the community on his new venture as the seventh president of St. Mary’s Academy.
Once the school year was underway, the warm wishes continued, especially at a community celebration to welcome Bill. In true SMA fashion, presentations by Lower, Middle and High schools reflected the unique character of each division. Lower Schoolers shared the five best things about their school along with “Applause, please” signs for the audience; Middle Schoolers described the occasional dilemma of being the “middle child”; and High School students presented the Statement of Loretto Leadership developed last summer at the annual leadership conference.
Integral to the ceremony — and to Bill’s commitment to SMA — was the underlying theme of the school’s grounding in the Loretto School Values expressed in Bill’s remarks, “Over the past few weeks I have seen you be kind to each other, care for each other, serve others, take risks and push yourselves — both in and out of the classroom. You model our Loretto School Values of faith, community, justice and respect and you have the capacity to be — and some of you already are — leaders and agents of change in a world where we desperately need to work together to show compassion, express empathy, model common decency and find peace.
“My commitment is to work tirelessly in support of your teachers, administrators and staff in an effort to provide you with an outstanding experience as we help you develop your skills, identify and explore your passions, take risks and find your voice so that you can lead and succeed in making a difference in the world. I will do my best to embody the Loretto School Values, respect and honor the great work that has come before us and work hand in hand with each of you to shape the future of our wonderful school.”Bill’s words were addressed to the entire school community, among them his eighth-grade son, Mensah. Bill and his wife Jennifer Millett- Barrett adopted Mensah and his siblings Koku (17) and Godsway (21) from Ghana. Bill and Jennifer have strong roots in Ghana where Jennifer founded and directed a non-profit to combat human trafficking that has evolved into Dream On International. She serves as president, and Bill serves on the board of Dream On. Jennifer is completing coursework at Columbia University for a master’s degree in human rights and will move to Denver over Christmas break. Bill brings a global perspective to his work at SMA as he did at Rippowam Cisqua School, a PK-grade 9 independent school in Bedford where he was head of the upper school for 11 years. He holds graduate degrees in counseling, special education and business management and has experience in strategic planning, curriculum development, advancement and marketing. Beyond these professional competencies, Bill noted, “My faith, character and commitment to SMA’s mission will be the driving forces behind my actions as leader.”