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Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 

Eliza Heflin '24, Sisters


Mariam Al-Rawi '21, What is beauty?


Nora Wang '21, Undercurrent



At Harpeth Hall, we are not striving to be a place where girls fit in but a place where girls belong.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brene Brown illustrates the distinction between the two, writing, "Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are." It is our priority to ensure each girl in our community feels a deep sense of belonging which we achieve by fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in which to teach and learn.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is conceptualized in many different ways, but we, at Harpeth Hall, see it as the following:

Diversity: Diversity reflects who is part of our community – individuals of different race, religion, socio-economic status, ethnicity, culture, and thought. We recognize that individuals embody multiple intersecting identities, which we support all community members in exploring.

Equity: Equity is helping every person in our community succeed and reach her full potential by ensuring each member has equal access to services, resources, and opportunities.

Inclusion: Inclusion is making sure that every person feels not only a part of our community but also that they truly belong here. We promote a culture in which each person feels welcomed, respected, and supported.

             Suki Junge '26, 4 of Me

Diverse school experiences enrich individuals with deeper understandings of themselves and others. Only within an inclusive environment is the highest level of learning and understanding achieved. 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. We take seriously our obligation to cultivate a strong sense of community so that all students, faculty, and families feel a sense of belonging at Harpeth Hall.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) cultural identifiers are: ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status (class), body image (lookism), educational background, academics/social achievement, family of origin or family makeup, geographic or regional background, language, learning style, beliefs (political, social, religious) , and globalism and internationalism.

At Harpeth Hall, we embrace each of these identifiers. 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 2021-2022

Community Initiatives

Teaching and Learning

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


    Harpeth Hall faculty members from all academic departments examine the best grading practices through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

  • 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

    A two-day race and leadership conference 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