Dr. Arie Nettles shares her experience as a Harpeth Hall mom
The Nettles’ bright green van, lovingly named Dill Pickle, served a lot of purposes during its tenure as the family’s transportation to and from Harpeth Hall. It was an equipment room, rehearsal studio, conference room, changing space, and, much to the chagrin of mom Arie Nettles, Ph.D., a restaurant. For better or worse, the three Nettles sisters were “in and out of a pickle” a lot during their 13 years as a Harpeth Hall family. For Dr. Nettles, the Pickle was more than just a van, it was the witness to her journey as a mother.
On Nov. 4, Upper School students and their mothers and special friends gathered in the Athletics and Wellness Center for the annual Daughter and Mother/Special Friend Coffee. Students recited poetry, performed orchestral and choral music, and spoke in tribute to the mothers in the audience. While each message was different, the Harpeth Hall students clearly showed that they see the important women in their lives as honored role models.
This hit home when alumnae Ana ‘05, Sabin ‘09, and Aidan ‘13 introduced the keynote speaker, their mom Dr. Nettles. Dr. Nettles is a professor of clinical pediatrics and a psychologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In addition to her work with children and young adults who have developmental disabilities, autism, and cleft and craniofacial disorders, Dr. Nettles founded the VUMC Office of Inclusion and Health Equity at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and has since expanded the program’s reach to include education and training efforts for the medical center’s entire clinical workforce. Dr. Nettles was also a Harpeth Hall mom from 2000 to 2013, seeing all three of her daughters graduate on Souby Lawn.
As a mom, Dr. Nettles found herself filling many different roles as she developed the “Harpeth Hall mom’s skill sets,” including theatrical seamstress, chauffeur, school project manager, but, most importantly, cheerleader. At every performance, game, and speech, Dr. Nettles was front and center rooting her children on and supporting their dreams. Her children still recite her go-to sayings, “Good, better, best. Don’t stop until your good is better and your better’s best” and “Can’t is not in your repertoire.” For Dr. Nettles, the lessons she wanted to impart on her daughters, were supported and strengthened by Harpeth Hall’s motto, “think critically, lead confidently, and live honorably.”
Dr. Nettles spoke to the mothers and daughters about their own journeys and what to expect from each other. She told the audience to remember that this time in their lives is developmental for both a mom and a student and that each of them are experiencing this stage for the first time. Her advice was to be patient with each other, to listen to understand, and above all, to have respect for and trust in each other.
Although her daughters “left Harpeth Hall, Harpeth Hall never left them.” It hasn’t left Dr. Nettles either. Currently, she sits on the Board of Trustees at Harpeth Hall, ensuring that Harpeth Hall students will always have the highest quality education, just as her daughters did.