MBS Welcomes New Head of Upper School Ryan Liese

Ari Bersch

Photo Credit: Ari Bersch

New MBS Head of Upper School, Ryan Liese


When MBS students resumed on-campus instruction for the first time since mid-March, they were greeted by more than just plexiglass and gallon-sized jugs of sanitizer.  Another new presence was Head of Upper School Ryan Liese, who came to MBS from the Randolph School in Huntsville, Alabama, where he served as Head of Upper School, acted as Journalism Advisor, and ran the School’s Honor Council.  He replaces Darren Burns, who now assumes the newly-created position of Associate Head of School.  Entering a new school in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and reopening process is obviously not the “smooth, easy transition” Liese expected, but he said he has “felt nothing but support, whether it be the deans, Ms. Luna [Head of Middle School], Mr. Burns, Ms. Levinson [Chief Financial Officer and math teacher], the teachers, or the department chairs.”  He also feels that his “fresh set of eyes” were beneficial in planning for the reopening of campus.

 When it came to looking for a new school, Liese said he “was really picky.”  He wanted a school that was most proud of its community rather than solely its academic accomplishments.  He said that he values “building relationships with people, connecting with your teachers, one-on-one time, and feeling community,” and that he found it at MBS.  This was especially true after his on-campus visit last January.  Liese said that his main impression of MBS was “it’s not fake … it was everything they said it would be; it was about the people.”  

Despite now being Head of Upper School at MBS, Liese said that he never thought he would become an administrator.  Because of his love for mentoring students, he thought that he would be teaching for several decades.  He is able to continue this work even in his current role by interacting with students on a daily basis.  Liese said, “I try to work very closely with the SGA, class leaders, and club leaders to give them a sense of the types of conversations they’re going to need to have with people making decisions both in high school and once they leave high school.”

Liese’s main focus as he begins his time as Head of Upper School is building off of the work done in past years and further fostering the strong MBS community.  He said, “one thing that’s great about schools is when students take accountability for what matters the most.”  Liese wants students to stay vigilant in their observance of social distancing guidelines and know that “If the people who are able to be here are all here, then we have the sense of community, and when you have a community, you can build trust, and when you have trust you can take [educational] risks in the classroom.” 

Ultimately, Liese said, “I care about people, I care about relationships, [and] I care about using those relationships to make sure that the outcome is as positive as possible.”  These values are conducive to strengthening every member of the MBS community, especially in trying times like these.