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Meet the Allens

Chandra, Harry, Noelle, 7th grade, Naomi, 5th grade

Chandra and Harry have both lived in Nashville most of their lives. Harry attended Belmont University, and Chandra attended Davidson College before moving back to Nashville to start graduate school. They are happily raising their family of five in their hometown.

As a parent, what influenced you to consider, and ultimately enroll your daughters at Harpeth Hall?

We are both natives of Nashville and attended academic magnet schools. We both had such a wonderful experience that we wanted to pursue that path for our oldest daughter. As Noelle was approaching middle school, we started to explore our options in addition to our zoned school since we were familiar with navigating the process of applying to magnet schools. However, as we engaged our daughter in the process, she asked to apply to Harpeth Hall, having attended several summer camps there. We were unfamiliar with the independent school application process, but she was so interested in Harpeth Hall that we followed her lead and advocacy. We agreed that if she was serious about applying, we would support her in the process and do our part as well. As we learned more about Harpeth Hall, the expertise in teaching and leading girls, and our own daughter’s needs, Harpeth Hall surfaced as our school of choice, and we’ve not looked back. One of the important factors to us was Harpeth Hall’s intentionality about developing the whole girl. We wanted academics to be important, but we were also pleased with the emphasis on social emotional learning. We were so proud when Noelle won the Spirit award in 5th grade. After the experience Noelle had in 5th  grade, we knew we wanted to offer the opportunity to our middle child, Naomi. Now, we have two daughters at Harpeth Hall. Our daughters are very different, but both are seen and valued. They are both carving out community, engaging in challenging academic pursuits, and trying new things. And that means the world to us as parents.

How have you seen Noelle’s Harpeth Hall experience help develop her academic and co-curricular interests? 

It has been a joy to watch Noelle grow and mature over the last two years. We watched her adjust to the new challenges and responsibilities of 5th grade – learning how to manage her time and assignments, learning when to ask for help, and developing grit. She continued to develop habits that would serve her well in 6th grade. As a 7th grader, we see the confidence and pride Noelle has developed in her academic goals. She continues to refine the habits and study skills that work for her and she is eager to take on new challenges. We know that Noelle’s development is due in large part to the support she has received from her teachers, advisors, and other Harpeth Hall staff. Teachers want to help students succeed and take advantage of additional help when needed.

Noelle dances outside of Harpeth Hall; much of her extracurricular time is devoted to dance. Noelle has maintained the ability to complete her schoolwork and devote time to something she is passionate about. We believe she’s adjusted very well with the support of Harpeth Hall in learning how to balance the academic rigor while continuing to nurture and explore co-curricular interests. It was a big adjustment, for sure, but she’s taking it all in stride.

In 6th grade, Noelle decided to try out track and field for the first time. She thoroughly enjoyed being a part of a team and she pushed herself outside of her comfort zone. The Harpeth Hall environment gave her the freedom and encouragement to try something new.

As a new 5th grader, how has the transition into Harpeth Hall been for Naomi? What are you most excited about as she continues her journey?  

While we expected the transition for Naomi to be a little easier since she had an older sister at Harpeth Hall, her experience as a new 5th grader has been different. Naomi’s elementary school added 5th grade this year and so several of her friends remained at her elementary school while she moved on to Harpeth Hall. As the start of school got closer, Naomi was a bit sad about leaving friends behind and nervous about the transition. We were so relieved when Naomi came home on the first day of school proclaiming, “I had such an awesome day! I love it here!”  We knew that this was likely the honeymoon period, but Naomi’s enthusiasm for Harpeth Hall has yet to wane. We have really seen her blossom and make great friends in her first semester at Harpeth Hall. Naomi has also tried new sports for the first time, playing both volleyball and soccer so far. She hopes to do basketball and track and field later in the year. There is not a week that goes by that Naomi does not come home asking to attend a club, a special event at school, or hang out with a friend. She is learning to embrace more responsibility with her schoolwork and learning how to stick with new material. We are so grateful that Naomi’s experience has been a good one. We hope Naomi continues to try to things, grow in her confidence, and find her place at Harpeth Hall.

How does Harpeth Hall’s mission align with your own values as a family?

We find so much in the Harpeth Hall mission that resonates with our family values. We hope to raise children who see themselves as part of a whole, who have a deep desire and obligation to be part of something bigger than themselves. We believe that each of us is equipped with gifts and a purpose and that we have a responsibility to use those gifts in service to our community. We believe that our girls' experiences at Harpeth Hall will be one of the influences that will help them hone in on and develop those gifts. We hope that our children will take the opportunity to continuously broaden and expand their horizons. You don’t have to be in an official leadership position to be someone who leads. Authenticity and honesty along with an open mind will take you far and will lend itself well to being a person who has the ability to engage with a variety of people and perspectives. We have put a lot of trust in Harpeth Hall in educating our girls, and we are proud to partner with an institution whose mission resonates with us so deeply.

In what ways have you gotten involved in the Harpeth Hall parent community?

I (Chandra) have served on the Harpeth Hall Parent Association for three years, since Noelle started 5th grade. I have enjoyed getting to know the other parents in the HHPA and contribute a small part to all the wonderful events hosted for parents and students. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and I am so grateful to all the parents and staff who make the events possible. We are also involved in the families of color community and have enjoyed getting to know the parents who are part of that community as well.

When times allows, we participate in the PLAID series. We find the information to be so helpful as we navigate raising our girls.

Do you have any advice for prospective families who are unfamiliar with Harpeth Hall or who are unsure of the benefits of an all girls school?

Don’t be afraid to explore Harpeth Hall. The worst that can happen is that you decide that it is not the right fit for your daughter or your family. You have the opportunity to discover a community that can embrace your whole family and be an amazing formational learning experience for your daughter. Take a tour and ask lots of questions throughout the process. We have found everyone to be honest and compassionate at every turn. Once you put in effort to discover more about Harpeth Hall, you will be amazed at everything this school and community have to offer.