Katherine Berdy makes Altamont feel like home. She brightens every room, is always overflowing with positivity, and is without question one of greatest leaders in the school’s history. She began her Altamont journey as a student where she participated in theater and creative writing classes and returned as an English teacher. In that role, she connected with the Miree family and worked alongside other faculty and staff to build the Miree Center after Kyser’s tragic passing. She then elevated into the role of the leadership coordinator for the center and led students in pursuing their leadership projects. Mrs. Berdy has always been a shoulder to lean on, the dearest friend, and the most wonderful mentor. Her expertise in writing has inspired countless students to pursue their passions in literature without bounds and her everlasting encouragement reminds them to never give up. As she continues her journey in life away from The Altamont School this year, faculty and students alike come together and unison to express our gratitude.
Thank you, Mrs. Berdy for your friendship. Thank you for all the good days that were outdone by your amazing presence and all of the bad ones that were made better by your kind words. Thank you for reminding us that flowers come after rainy days and for never letting us give up on our dreams. Thank you for being a role model to the youngest of children and the most experienced adults. Thank you for teaching the most valuable lessons of life and leadership – and some grammar skills too. Thank you for being you. Altamont has forever been changed by your impact and continues to be transformed by your presence. We are so happy to uplift you as you develop your passions for leadership and cannot wait to see where the world takes you.
A few words from some of her closest friends:
From Larry McCain:
Katherine, you are an amazing lady. You have spent so much of your time at Altamont doing so much for others, and the reach of your influence can never be measured. We are all so blessed to have worked with you during this part of your journey. So much of your hard work is reflected in so many Altamont programs, and we find comfort knowing that we need not look far to find how much you have meant to this place.
Personally, you have helped to nurture my growth here at Altamont, and I cannot thank you enough. Wishing you all the best, sweet friend . . .
From Dan Carsen:
The best way to make a lifelong ally of a father is to be good to his children. The best way to earn the respect and appreciation of a teacher is to be good to his or her students. Katherine Berdy has done both of those for me and for so many of us.
She’s a beloved leader for the right reasons, cultivating leadership qualities in maturing hearts and minds for the right reasons. If you pay attention to her daily example, you know that needs to come from a place of empathy, altruism, and kindness, from an urge to make the world better, kinder, and more equitable. She’s always cultivated Altamont students’ best instincts – their better angels, so to speak – in order to improve lives and strengthen our community, not just so people can win Student Government Office X or earn GPA Y or get into College Z.
Her teaching and her work through LEAD and the Miree Center has opened the minds and boosted the confidence of so many students, giving them new experiences and ways to see themselves as part of a larger whole they might not have seen otherwise. For me personally, she’s become a dear friend, an unfailing supporter, a trustworthy confidant, and a great storyteller and story listener. When I was the new, inexperienced Director of Altamont’s Heritage Panel (one of the pillars of The Miree Center) in 2019, I was consciously thankful every day that she was so supportive, so accessible, and just so positive, dedicated, and fired up about the mission. A seemingly insurmountable problem would melt into a minor task after some encouragement and practical, veteran advice from Katherine Berdy.
On top of it all, she’s a terrific parent in an era that seems designed to thwart the best and most tenacious parental intentions. Even in the time of masks, her face would visibly light up when talking about any students doing well and making an impact, whether the students were hers or “all of ours” (although hers are “all of ours” too). And that eyes-lighting-up enthusiasm was contagious in the best possible way.
Katherine, thank you again, for everything. We wish you the best. We’re sad to see you go, but we’re thrilled you’re not going far, and we know you’re going to keep brightening this needy world of ours.
From Niko Tsivourakis:
Peek in on Mrs. Berdy’s typical day and you’ll see why she’s beloved! I love watching her walk through the halls, with confident steps, purpose, and an inviting expression (How is she always so enthusiastic?!). She has boundless, infectious energy. She pushes us to think and be purposeful. She’s our advocate, championing our best causes and insane ideas. Our passions matter to her, and Mrs. Berdy demands that we actively seek them. She has an alchemical way of transforming every experience into something positive. And though she is the busiest woman in town, Mrs. Berdy makes time for everyone. This is a dedication well spent!