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Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 

Mariam Al-Rawi '21, What is beauty?


Eliza Heflin '24, Sisters


Amelia Reddy '22, Flight of Change



“When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up?
That’s what they’re looking for.”

- Toni Morrison

For a girl to thrive academically, she must be situated within a learning community wherein she feels seen, valued, challenged, and affirmed. Otherwise, nothing else that happens within that community matters.

Morrison’s words are a cogent reminder that Harpeth Hall’s equity and inclusion work is difficult and exciting and necessary to ensure each girl is met where she is. At Harpeth Hall, we are not striving to be a place where girls fit in but a place where girls belong. Having educated girls and young women for more than 150 years, we unequivocally know that when girls feel accepted for who they are and are without the burden of shifting their identities to fit in, they come to school each day ready to engage. The latter is not possible without the former.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is conceptualized in many different ways, but we, at Harpeth Hall, see diversity as asking "Who is in the room?" while equity requires us to provide equal access to opportunities, programs, and resources so that each community member feels included and an internal sense of belonging.

To be clear: DEIB is not code for Critical Race Theory. Nor is it an attempt to indoctrinate students. And it certainly isn’t aimed at depreciating any particular group. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Harpeth Hall’s DEIB work is best characterized as data-informed initiatives and programming designed to honor the manifold social and cultural identifiers represented within our community and advance our community members’ cross-cultural understandings.

             Suki Junge '26, 4 of Me

As you know, diverse school experiences enrich individuals with deeper understandings of self and the world. Our students engage in curricula that reflect themselves and others, and they develop the global perspectives essential to make meaningful contributions to their communities and the world.

At Harpeth Hall, we embrace each cultural identifier. We believe in the dignity, power, and potential of every individual. We intentionally affirm each girl’s unique identity. We are wholeheartedly committed to educate girls and young women to think critically, to lead confidently, and to live honorably.


MarQuis Chappell
Director of Equity and Inclusion

MarQuis Chappell joined Harpeth Hall in 2018 and was named Director of Equity and Inclusion in 2021. As a classroom teacher and grade level dean, he fostered a culture where students were encouraged to value their neighbors and support each other in taking risks, and he brings that same vision to the broader campus community. By the time each girl graduates from Harpeth Hall, his hope is that she is well equipped with the vocabulary, skills, and resolve to interact with peoples from all walks of life, may that be right here in the heart of Nashville or abroad. Mr. Chappell believes in the unyielding power of an inclusive learning community and is dedicated to ensuring Harpeth Hall remains a place where each girl feels comfortable being her most authentic self and belongs.

Contact Mr. Chappell

Strategic Plan

In Harpeth Hall's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, the Board of Trustees, members of the Leadership Team, and school faculty selected Community as one of our four focus areas, with the following goal statement: Continue to cultivate and promote a school that is diverse, welcoming, and inclusive and that appreciates differences while fostering community.

In line with the action steps in our Strategic Plan, our school aspires to bring together a student and faculty community reflective of a diversifying Nashville. We work to ensure our students and faculty have the skills to lead open dialogues about the issues confronting our community and our nation. We know it is imperative to prepare students to succeed in an increasingly multicultural society. At Harpeth Hall, we believe that to be an excellent school, we must cultivate a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in which to teach and learn. We are pleased to share an update with the community that highlights the work of the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school year.

Equity and Inclusion Priorities for 2022-2023

Community Initiatives

Teaching and Learning

Harpeth Hall faculty and students have opportunities for professional development on inclusion, belonging, and community building.


    Re-examining outdated grading practices benefits all students within our community. Faculty involved in this initiative actively assess how teachers' gradebooks reflect what students know in a given subject, rather than being slanted toward grades that rarely measure mastery of content, including, in some cases, effort and participation scores. Grading for mastery of content creates space for multimodal classrooms that meet the needs of various learning styles and processing speeds.

  • NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC)

    Every year, Harpeth Hall sends faculty and staff to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) sponsored conference.

  • NAIS Student dIVERSITY leadership Conference (sdlc)

    A group of Harpeth Hall student leaders attend the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) sponsored conference.

  • tearing down the walls

    Organized and hosted by Ensworth school in Nashville, this two-day race and leadership conference is designed for independent school students in the Southeast. The conference affords student from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to become leaders and bridge builders in the arena of race relations.

Student Clubs and Organizations

Harpeth Hall faculty and student-run clubs offer many opportunities to engage in important conversations.

Affinity Groups and Leadership Groups

Affinity groups and leadership groups on campus provide a community for students, faculty, and parents to gather, celebrate, and support one another. These spaces affirm all members of our school community. Currently, our spaces include:

  • DEI Committee of the Board of Trustees

  • Parents of Students of Color

  • BIPOC Faculty Group

  • Faculty Council for Belonging

  • SPECTRUM Faculty Group for LGBTQ+

  • Better Together Middle School Leadership Group

  • BELONG Upper School Leadership Group

    • Boldly Showing Up

    • Engaging in Tough Conversations

    • Listening More than I Speak

    • Open to Learning

    • Noticing My Assumptions

    • Giving Second Chances

Speakers and Collaborators

Harpeth Hall values the expertise of individuals focused on professional learning in the equity and inclusion space. Speakers and collaborators include:


Diversity and difference enrich our school community. We are committed to providing our families with developmentally-appropriate tools, discussion spaces, and exploration experiences that will build confidence and belonging for every individual Harpeth Hall.


Diversity Work in Independent Schools

From Diversity to Inclusion and Equity