Meet the Bolin Family!
Parents: Mary Cady Bolin & Brian Bolin
Students: Caroline Ford ‘23 & Harper Bolin ‘29
How did you find Harpeth Hall?
Brian is a Nashville native, but I was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I came to Nashville to study at Vanderbilt in 2001 after attending Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. The all-girls environment really shaped me. Brian and I knew we wanted that environment for the girls, and Harpeth Hall is all we could have dreamed of and more.
Before their time at Harpeth Hall, both girls went to St. Paul Christian Academy. We loved that sweet place, but saw great opportunity for them at Harpeth Hall. We moved the girls in 5th grade, and I can’t imagine them being anywhere else.
As parents, what influenced you to consider, and ultimately enroll at, Harpeth Hall?
Oh my word. A million things. The teachers. The opportunities. The diversity. The single-gender education that allows them to be exactly who they are among a community of women who embrace and encourage them. It’s such a gift to be able to walk into school with girls who cheer you on and embrace the WHOLE you, just as you are! It’s a beautiful place.
As parents of two daughters, this environment was what we wanted to provide during their adolescent years. When you think about how long your children are in school every day, the environment they are in, and the people they are with, matter just as much as the academics.
As a new 5th grader, how has the transition into Harpeth Hall been for Harper? What are you most excited about as she continues her journey?
Harper is our shy child, so I have to tell you I was nervous for her! She wants to get things right, and she wants to please. To see her walk in that first day and be with 50-something girls she did not know, I was amazed at how she made friends so quickly and was shepherded so well by the teachers. The Middle School teachers have such a keen eye on the dynamics of all the different girls, and they are so gifted at leading and teaching each one. I’m also thinking beyond classroom teachers to people like Tania Ford at the front desk, Miss Renee in the lunchroom, and all the other faces that make Harpeth Hall the community that it is. No girl goes unnoticed. Harper fit right in!
I’m most excited to see her gifts be nurtured. Harper is a writer, and Ms. Wheeler has been so helpful with careful edits of her work and excitement for what Harper creates. Harper writes something at home and immediately puts it in her backpack for Ms. Wheeler to read, and that just warms my heart. If she becomes a writer, whether professionally or just for fun, her experience with Ms. Wheeler will be a foundational memory for her, and I’m grateful for all the time she has invested. Similarly, she is a dancer and the way that Ms. Hamilton and all the Dance Company girls invited all the new girls in is phenomenal. From the very first day of dance, Harper felt like she belonged. The three-day Dance Concert this past fall was a huge commitment for an 11 year-old, and their “dance family” made not just a beautiful concert, but an enriching experience that perfectly pushed Harper athletically. She was so proud of what they did! I think she was more ready for a commitment like Dance Company than she realized, and she is counting the days until spring dance. Between dance seasons, she is also diving, which she has never done before!
How have you seen Caroline’s Harpeth Hall experience develop to encourage her academic and co-curricular interests?
As we are looking at colleges for Caroline, I am remembering the little 5th grader that first set foot on campus seven years ago and how Harpeth Hall has played such an integral role in the young woman she has become. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to thank Harpeth Hall enough, but I’ll try.
Caroline is my sporty girl, and she has flourished in tennis, basketball, track, and cross country. I cannot stress enough how the coaches have spoken into her life, not just in athletics. The respect and love she has for every single coach is more than I could have wished for. She knows that those coaches don’t just love her athletic performance but they truly love HER. I have this great memory of her sitting on a hill by the tennis courts with Coach Baker after a grueling match. They were just there together, watching another match, and Buffy put her arm around Caroline’s shoulders, and I just melted. She loves those coaches so much, and I truly believe Harpeth Hall has the most talented, nurturing coaches in the city.
This winter, she is on the first ever Polar Bears ice hockey team! She can’t skate (yet!), but she jumped at the chance to try something new with her friends, and that fearless attitude is something that has been nurtured by Harpeth Hall. I’m so excited to watch her play!
Her academic teachers have encouraged her to ask questions and think deeply, and I have to say that has changed our dinnertime conversations over time in the most wonderful way. We discuss psychology, faith, history, and politics often, and the way she has been able to shape ideas and be open to changing those ideas with new information has been a joy to watch. Art Echerd comes to mind as an influential teacher as does Rebecca Harris. MarQuis Chappell is another teacher who I would say helped Caroline think more carefully (I don’t know what I have to do to get him to teach Harper at some point, but I am not above begging). This year for Winterim, she is interning on the Senate Aviation Committee in D.C., and having the time set aside to do that as a junior in high school is just incredible. I can’t wait to see how she embraces that experience!
She’s been a member of Ambassadors, the Fashion Club, the Latin Club, and others, and I have been so encouraged to see her try new things each and every year!
In what ways have you found opportunities to be engaged in the community as parents?
There are so many ways to be involved at Harpeth Hall. I didn’t know more than a handful of people when Caroline enrolled at Harpeth Hall in 2015 and volunteering here and there with sports teams or on weekends helped me form wonderful relationships with other parents and with the faculty. Brian and I were the grade level chairs for the Annual Fund for Caroline’s 6th grade year, which helped us get to know her entire class. From there, I was Middle School Sunshine Chair, and then Sunshine Chair for the school two years ago. I am the HHPA VP for Special Events this year.
I teach Group Fitness at the YMCA, and several members of the faculty asked me to lead a dance class outside on the tennis courts last year one day a week after school. That was really fun! It was a creative way to serve the faculty, and we had a blast. I’m sure we’ll do it again at some point.
There is a way for everyone to serve from a one-time event to year-round opportunities! I’ve loved getting to know so many other parents and getting to know the faculty has been so wonderful. Each member of the faculty and staff has such talent and so much love for the school, and that makes me all the more grateful that my girls are at Harpeth Hall.
From your experience, do you have any advice for prospective families as they go through the admission process?
The Admission team is composed of some of the most thoughtful, kind, and helpful people who sincerely want to know every family. We enjoyed working with them, and I’m grateful for the work that they do. I really appreciated the time Lisa Hall took to talk with me about the transition and the insights she shared. I would also say to ask current parents what they love about the school.
Aside from that, I would say that the more you can make this search for a “next school” an adventure or a journey instead of a stress-filled experience, the better. As parents, we can set the tone for this transition, and this is an exciting time that should be about finding the right fit for our families and for our daughters.