Unsung Hero: Laura Miyoshi, Sandy Spring Friends School

With an eye for detail and functionality, Miyoshi has helped ensure a greener future at Sandy Spring Friends School.

Aug 4, 2023

Unsung Hero Laura Miyoshi

The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations.

Title: Chief Operations Officer, retired summer 2023

School: Sandy Spring Friends School, Sandy Spring, MD


Superpower: Campus transformation. Over the past decade, Miyoshi has helped transform Sandy Spring Friends School’s 140-acre campus – without deferring maintenance. Her accomplishments include leading several projects: the construction of an award-winning upper school building, a completely redesigned commercial kitchen, renovated administrative offices, improved playing fields and playgrounds and four acres of solar panels discreetly sited on campus. She also oversaw the creation of a campus quad, which moved car traffic around campus instead of through it and improved the safety and aesthetics pedestrian-friendly walkways.

With every campus update, Miyoshi “has made numerous, visible and lasting contributions to the beauty and serenity of the school’s campus infrastructure,” said Brenna Ryan, associate director of stewardship and donor relations.

Sustainability pro: Miyoshi helped establish 11 acres of permaculture fields. Permaculture draws on principles of natural ecosystems to create sustainable agriculture. She also worked with students to design expanded recycling efforts as well as offering input into the design of classroom and other academic spaces. “Because of [Miyoshi], we eat better, more nutritional food that comes from the school’s own farm … and we set and meet ambitious targets for sustainability,” said Ryan.

Expert listener: Miyoshi “knows everyone and their story, and she is a connector of people,” said Ryan. Her listening skills “are not born out of a chapter on business management, but rather from a deep respect for her colleagues and for the wisdom that is generated through the process of debate, and challenging assumptions while being open to seeing things differently.”

Creative problem solver: Miyoshi “thinks first about how a space will be used by the people who will use it most, and then she goes about her magic.” For example, before launching into the design of a pathway to the new Upper School, she watched and waited to understand how students walked from building to building. When their patterns wore a path, she had it paved.


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