Head of School Search

Update: November 5, 2018

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of The Harpeth Hall School, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Jess Hill as Harpeth Hall's seventh Head of School, effective immediately. Mrs. Hill has been serving as Interim Head of School at Harpeth Hall since May 2018, following the tragic loss of former Head of School Dr. Stephanie Balmer.

Harpeth Hall is fortunate to have such an experienced leader in the education of girls and young women as our next Head of School. As noted by Megan Murphy, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, "Jess Hill is a nationally known leader in girls' education whose work has further established Harpeth Hall's position as a thought leader among independent schools. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at national independent school conferences and is highly regarded by her colleagues throughout the country." 

We are confident that Mrs. Hill's commitment to girls' education along with her collaborative leadership style, strategic focus, and passion for lifelong learning will enable her to lead Harpeth Hall and to continue Harpeth Hall's forward momentum into the future. 

Over a seven-month period, the Head of School Search Committee worked in conjunction with leading independent school search firm Carney, Sandoe & Associates to conduct a national search. This capable and committed team reviewed numerous applications and interviewed the most talented and experienced candidates before making the recommendation to extend an offer to Mrs. Hill. On November 5, the Board of Trustees approved the Search Committee's recommendation to appoint Mrs. Hill as our next Head of School.

Mrs. Hill holds a M.Ed from Vanderbilt University in Secondary Education of Mathematics and Social Studies. She earned her undergraduate degree in Economics from Sewanee: The University of the South. Mrs. Hill's expertise and commitment to the Harpeth Hall community has been evident for over two decades. She served as Director of the Upper School at Harpeth Hall from 2005-2017 after teaching Upper School mathematics for ten years. Mrs. Hill and her husband, Moe, have three grown children, Becca Hill '07, Morey Hill, and Noni Hill '12.

I would especially like to thank Jackie Glover Thompson '64 and Rachel Reeves Settle '94, Co-chairs of the Head of School Search Committee, for devoting their time and their hearts to the search process. They worked in collaboration with the equally dedicated Search Committee members - Didi Kaplan Biesman '82, Craig Buffkin, Jane Berry Jacques '72, John T. Johnson, Frank Majors, Cathy Cate Sullivan '73, Jay Sangervasi, and Emily Cate Tidwell '75. 

I also thank our consultants at Carney, Sandoe & Associates for their expert guidance. And, finally, I thank our parents, faculty, staff, alumnae, trustees, and honorary trustees for sharing their insightful perspectives on the type of leader Harpeth Hall needs at this special time in our school's history as we continue and honor the work and vision of Dr. Balmer, and as we continue to grow, to move forward, and to thrive. We have all worked together to ensure that the trajectory of Harpeth Hall will be ever upward and positive.

Please join me in welcoming Jess Hill as our next Head of School. With Mrs. Hill's leadership, Harpeth Hall will continue to pursue the highest marks of excellence in girls' education.

Jane Berry Jacques '72 
Chair, Board of Trustees
Harpeth Hall School 


Update: October 20, 2018

The Head of School Search Committee has invited a small group of finalists to visit campus. They feel these finalists are the best fit to lead Harpeth Hall as Head of School based on the Position Description. The finalists will tour campus, meet with the Search Committee, Board of Trustees, parent, faculty, student and alumnae groups, explore Nashville and learn more about what makes our school such a fantastic community.

These visits begin an exciting period in the Head of School Search and are a critical step in the process to identify and recruit our next leader. Each person who meets the finalist will be asked to complete a candidate feedback survey to share your thoughts and impressions.  This collective data will be used by the Search Committee members in their deliberations.  

The fourth finalist visit is Sunday, October 21 – Tuesday, October 23

Two open meetings have been scheduled to provide an opportunity for parents and alumnae to meet the candidate and ask her questions. 

Open Parent Meeting – Monday, October 22, 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the Richards Room in the Patton Visual Arts Center. 

Open Alumnae Meeting – Tuesday, October 23, 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the Richards Room in the Patton Visual Arts Center.   

Thank you again for your support and trust.  We are committed to selecting an outstanding Head of School to lead us forward at this time.

Update: July 10, 2018

Following the sudden loss of Dr. Stephanie Balmer as Harpeth Hall's Head of School in February 2018, the Board of Trustees took on its responsibility to determine our next Head of School. On February 28, 2018, the Board was pleased to announce the appointment of Jess Hill as Interim Head of School beginning May 19, 2018. Since that time, the Board has continued to focus on the future of the school, has approved our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, and has formed a Search Committee to begin the work of selecting the next Head of School.

Head of School Search Committee

Rachel Reeves Settle '94 
Search Committee Co-Chair, Trustee, Alumna

Jackie Glover Thompson '64 
Search Committee Co-Chair, Trustee, Alumna, Past Parent

Didi Kaplan Biesman '82 
Trustee, Alumna, Past Parent

Craig Buffkin 
Trustee, Past Parent

Jane Berry Jacques '72
Chair, Board of Trustees, Trustee, Alumna, Past Parent

John T. Johnson 
Trustee, Past Parent

Frank Majors
Trustee, Current Parent

Cathy Cate Sullivan '73
Trustee, Alumna

Jay Sangervasi 
Trustee, Past Parent

Emily Cate Tidwell '75.
Past Chair, Board of Trustees, Trustee, Alumna, Past Parent, Chair of Head of School Search Committee 2013

The Board has selected executive search firm Carney, Sandoe & Associates, a firm that has completed more than 750 successful searches for school heads and other top administrators over the past 40 years.  

Search Committee's Goals and Process

The Search Committee is committed to finding our next exceptional leader who will lead Harpeth Hall forward into the next 150 years. The committee is confident that the selected person will be passionate about girls' education, will fully embrace our school and community, will build on the school's achievements, and will share in our strategic plan and vision.

The Search Committee's goal is to gather input and engage the entire Harpeth Hall community in the search process, so that as many ideas as possible are incorporated in prioritizing the qualities we seek in the next Head of School. Carney, Sandoe & Associates search consultants met with the full faculty on May 16 and the Board of Trustees on June 6.  They also met with school administrators, department chairs, alumnae, and parents during a campus visit on June 19-20.

On May 29, an online survey was distributed as a means of gathering information and gaining insight from all constituencies of the community – alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, upper school students, and trustees. More than 900 individuals completed the survey, including 442 alumnae! This enormous response demonstrates the depth of the care and commitment to Harpeth Hall in our community. Many thanks to all of those who participated.

The survey responses and visits with our many constituencies equipped the Search Committee with excellent information as they created the Position Description for our next Head of School. The Position Description has been distributed widely by our search consultants throughout the country and internationally, and they are actively engaged in extensive candidate recruitment. We invite you to share the Position Description with any outstanding prospective candidates you might know.

Carney, Sandoe & Associates 

Harpeth Hall community members may reach out directly to any of our three search consultants to provide feedback, ask questions about the search process, or nominate a candidate for Head of School. 

Aggie Underwood
Vice President, Managing Associate Search and Consulting Group
acunderwood@carneysandoe.com | 617-515-6673

Marguerite Lloyd
Senior Consultant
marguerite.lloyd@carneysandoe.com | 202-552-9009

Marlene Shaw
Senior Consultant
marlene.shaw@carneysandoe.com | 901-378-2019