Nominations are open until April 15, 2023

Burch Ford Kaleidoscope Award

for Excellence in Student & Residential Life

The Burch Ford Kaleidoscope Award recognizes three professionals each year, who have exemplified commitment, creativity and excellence in the area of Student and Residential Life.

The Award is named in honor of the late Mary Burch Tracy Ford (Burch), who served as the first full-time counselor at Groton School, the Dean of Students at Milton Academy and for 15 years, the Head of Miss Porter’s School.

Burch had a down-to-earth quality, side by side with a supremely idealistic point of view. She was a practical, can-do person, who brought her imagination, her remarkable experiences, and a devotion to service, to her work. A kaleidoscope is a fitting symbol of her graceful ability to combine her practicality, courage and renowned availability, with her creativity, playfulness and conviction of what is right. In addition to her many achievements as a leader in the boarding school community, she invented new traditions and created innovative programs that not only enriched students’ experiences, but gave them direction and confidence in great possibility. Striving for excellence was a mindset that Burch herself modeled and instilled in her colleagues and students. It became the fabric of the communities she served. 

The Burch Ford Kaleidoscope Award, itself, is a handcrafted, engraved Kaleidoscope. It will be presented on behalf of TABS Board of Trustees to three individuals each year at TABS Conference.

Be Inspired


Courtney Marshall

Phillips Exeter Academy

Amanda Correa

Thomas Jefferson School

Mary Elizabeth Martin

Asheville School


Nominations are open until April 15, 2023

Join us in honoring excellence, innovation and commitment in the Student and Residential Life sector, by nominating your deserving colleagues for the 2023 Burch Ford Kaleidoscope Award.


  • Worked at a TABS member school for at least three years.
  • Shown an exemplary spirit of vocation, a devotion to service, and a gift for leadership. 
  • Modeled inspiration, commitment, and integrity as a person and as a professional.

To nominate a colleague, please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Contact information about nominator
  • General information about the nominee 
  • Nominee’s current professional information (School, Title/Position)
  • Work history
  • Supporting statement for nominee noting significant contributions to the individual’s school and/or the boarding school community (250 to 500 words)


Will Gilyard is in his 19th year of working in independent schools. In 2020, he returned to his alma mater Choate Rosemary Hall to take on the roles of Form Dean, and Alumni Engagement Associate. Will joined Choate after nine years at the Kingswood Oxford School (KO), a 6-12 independent day school located in West Hartford, CT, where he served as Dean of Students, an upper school math teacher, assistant football coach, and faculty advisor for the United Students club and Boys of Color group. At Choate, Will is the faculty adviser to Choate Afro Latino Men (CALM), and Girls Who Code (GWC).

Will also serves as a core faculty member and helped create the curriculum for the Institute for New Teachers of Color in Independent Schools, created in 2020, the Interschool Leadership Institute, created in 2013. Will also served as a core faculty member of the Kingswood Oxford Leadership Institute for Educators of Color (KOLIEC) from 2011-2018 and helped create the curriculum for the mentoring/advising circles for institute participants.

Before joining KO, Will was the Head of the Upper School at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in New York City. He serves on the board of advisors for the IDEAL School, also located in New York City. He is passionate about the role of educators in independent schools, specifically in the lives of students of color. Will has attended numerous workshops, conferences, and institutes related to leadership in independent schools and anti-racist education. Will had the honor of being a member of a think tank for the CARLE institute. 

Will has his B.A. in Psychology from Williams College and his M.A. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of St. Joseph. Will is thrilled to be a part of the TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) team and looks forward to working with energized and focused individuals who are interested in being change agents in the residential life sphere.

Will and his wife, Afton, ALP/Enrichment Teacher in Stratford Public Schools reside in Wallingford, CT with their two sons, William (10) and Maxwell (8).


Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 joined Blair’s faculty in 2002 and is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the School on matters related to student and residential life, including health and counseling services, athletics and co-curricular programs. He runs Monday School Meeting and, among other things, is known for greeting students in the morning at the Clinton Hall doorway and offering freshly picked apples from his office during the month of October. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Ryan serves as a member of the history department and teaches Global Issues. He also authors the monthly e-newsletter From Hilltop to Home, a communication designed to help new boarding-school parents navigate the ins and outs of the Blair experience.

Over the course of his time at Blair, Ryan has served as a history teacher, head tennis coach, a dorm head and Dean of Admission. He completed his undergraduate work at Dickinson College, where he captained the men’s tennis team, and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia University. Before joining the faculty at Blair, Ryan taught at the Taft Summer School in Watertown, Connecticut, and Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania. He also spent three summers as program director of the Cambridge Prep Experience at Peterhouse College, Cambridge University.

In addition to his roles in schools, Ryan has served as a faculty member for the TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) Summer Session and is a regular presenter at national boarding and independent school conferences on student and residential life.

Ryan and his wife, Jennifer, performing arts department chair and Director of Instrumental Music at Blair, live in Grullon House with their children, Jack, Will, Ella and Addison, and their dog, Teagan. The Pagottos enjoy opening their home to Blair students, faculty and staff members throughout the year.


Susan served as a professor and leader at Middlebury College for over 25 years, most recently as Executive Vice President and Provost, leading Middlebury’s academic programs across multiple campuses – Middlebury, Bread Loaf, Monterey – as well as study abroad locations around the world. Prior to her Provostship, Susan served as Vice President for Strategy and Planning, Dean of Planning and Assessment, and Dean of the Faculty. She is a tenured Professor of Psychology and taught throughout her time at Middlebury.

Susan began her consulting firm in 2018, advising schools, colleges, non-profits and foundations in the areas of strategy, planning and governance; and coaching senior administrators to build leadership capacity and support change management. This led her to partner with TABS in 2019, in the development of TABS current strategic plan.

In addition to consulting, Susan co-authored the book, The College Stress Test, an analysis of educational markets and tools for helping schools to identify their place within market trends. The book was named one of the best books on higher education in 2020 by Forbes Magazine. Susan has presented extensively on topics relating to human sexuality, social psychology, and the psychology of women and gender. She received her B.S. with highest honors in Psychology, Phi Beta Kappa, at Denison University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology at UCLA.