New Head of School Announcement

Letter from Jane Berry Jacques '72 
Chair, Board of Trustees

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. 

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 – 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.

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  


Letter from Jess Hill  
Head of School

Dear Harpeth Hall Community,

It is my greatest honor to write to you today as Harpeth Hall's seventh Head of School. As I assume this mantle of leadership, I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of our six former Heads and over a dozen Presidents, Headmasters, and Headmistresses of Ward-Belmont and Ward Seminary. Our story is one of leadership, resilience, and courage. Each Head's tenure brought its own chapter to the rich narrative of our school for girls and young women.

I respect and acknowledge that our "Harpeth Hall Community" is broad and our members are many. Our reach extends far beyond the classroom and campus, and includes students, teachers, coaches, staff, current and past parents, grandparents, siblings, over 6,000 alumnae, neighbors, friends and families. As a former Harpeth Hall teacher, parent, and administrator, I understand that we are drawn to this place where girls are front and center every day and every year. Our education is embedded in both the bonds of memory from our alumnae and the hope for a better future from our students.

As Head of School, I will work to preserve and cultivate the soul of our school as we enter the next decade. That soul is comprised of many parts and was born 153 years ago when founders of Ward Seminary, Dr. and Mrs. W. E. Ward, had the courage to suggest that girls and young women deserved an education equal to that of boys and young men. A place of higher learning and ideals was carved from a tumultuous time in history. Our founders and subsequent leaders were called to lift the mind and spirit of young women, and I can think of no better calling than to continue that good work today.

Never static, Harpeth Hall is a place reformed and always reforming. To be on the leading edge of education, we must foster innovation in our classrooms, studios, halls, and fields. "Good enough" is never a signal to rest, but a charge to be better. As an educator of girls in 2018, I know the difficult questions of today will require more nuanced and complex answers.

But it is the character and habits of mind that will remain with our graduates. A student's heart and mind must be strengthened in her time here and made ready for her next steps. Empathy, curiosity, creativity, grit, humility, and honesty will serve her well. Good schools must find ways to nurture these traits, while simultaneously searching for ways to inspire students to connect with the world around them.

Our journey's direction is clear in Harpeth Hall's new Strategic Plan, created and adopted under the leadership of our former Head of School, Dr. Stephanie Balmer, and our Board of Trustees. I will serve as a catalyst in beginning and sustaining that work, and I am grateful to be entrusted with that endeavor. I give my sincere thanks to members of the Search Committee, Search Committee co-chairs Rachel Reeves Settle '94 and Jackie Glover Thompson '64, and to the Board of Trustees and Board of Trustees Chair, Jane Jacques '72, for their time, dedication, and leadership.

The grace of the student who listens and hears, and who questions and pursues the better answer, inspires me to step into this role. Improving the education and lives of our girls and young women is and always will be what excites me. Doing so amid the dedicated, innovative, and creative members of this faculty and Board is the honor of a lifetime.

In gratitude,

Jess Hill
Head of School
Harpeth Hall School