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Four Enduring Tributes Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Stephanie Balmer

A garden. A scholarship. A grant. A portrait. In so many ways, the legacy of Dr. Stephanie Balmer carries on at Harpeth Hall. In February 2018, our school community lost Dr. Balmer — a warm, vibrant, and energetic leader who served as Head of School from 2014 to 2018. Students, parents, faculty, alumnae, friends, and colleagues responded with an outpouring of heartfelt remembrances and gifts in her honor. In the time that has followed, more than 1,000 donors to date have contributed to the Stephanie Balmer Memorial Fund. From those gifts, four significant tributes have come to fruition.

On December 9, 2020, Jess Hill sent a special announcement on behalf of the school and the Board of Trustees announcing the Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement, the Stephanie Balmer Scholarship Fund, the Stephanie Balmer National Advisory Council Grant, and a beautiful Head of School Portrait, now prominently displayed in Souby Hall. 

The Stephanie Balmer Honor Committee, established in February 2018 by the Board of Trustees, provided oversight and coordination of efforts to honor Dr. Balmer and to support and honor her family. 

Construction of the Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement

Construction progress of the Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement

“As part of this vital responsibility, this board committee was entrusted with researching and determining the best use of the gifts to the Stephanie Balmer Memorial Fund, working in conjunction with the Balmer family,” said Current Board Chair Jane Berry Jacques ’72, Immediate Past Board Chair Emily Cate Tidwell ’75, and Stephanie Balmer Honor Committee Chair Collins Weaver Hooper ’88, who together led the legacy efforts. “The committee presented the proposal to the Board of Trustees for discussion and approval this year.”

With December’s announcement, the school also unveiled a webpage and brochure detailing how each tribute will reflect the remarkable impact of Dr. Balmer’s leadership of The Harpeth Hall School. 

“Dr. Balmer was an inspiring leader who has left an extraordinary mark on this school and on all who knew her,” Mrs. Hill said in her letter to the Harpeth Hall community. “She will be forever honored and remembered at this school and by the many people whose lives she touched.”

In a recent thank you letter to donors, Dr. Balmer’s husband, Lauren Balmer, expressed his deep gratitude for the care and support of the community.

“Almost three years have passed since Stephanie’s death. I believe that [our daughter], Isabel, and I are where we are today not only because of what you have done but how you have made us feel,” he said. “We have watched, listened, and learned from what each of you has said and done. Thank you for not only loving Stephanie, but Isabel and me, too.” 

The Harpeth Hall School remains inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Stephanie Balmer and sincerely thanks the many donors who have made these enduring tributes possible.

An illustration of the future Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement on Harpeth Hall's campus.