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Observations from Jess Hill

Observations from Jess Hill
Observations from Jess Hill

Education, at its core, provides students with the tools that equip them to lead a meaningful and productive life. Philosophers and leaders across time have expounded on that purpose as they have observed the world around them. Aristotle, for example, wrote that education’s “highest aim was to foster good judgment and wisdom.” Similarly, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” These scholars believed, as we at Harpeth Hall do, that building character and wisdom requires a widening of our singular experience and worldview through access to education. Only then can we begin to foster mutual respect and understanding.

That is why, as part of Harpeth Hall’s mission, our school offers expansive learning opportunities that ensure our girls have a sincere understanding of complexities faced throughout the world — locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Then, they are given the tools to collaborate and communicate with people who may have a fundamentally different experience with or understanding of those complexities. As our upper school world languages teacher and global scholars program director Elizabeth Allen says: “At the most personal level for each girl, teaching ‘global perspectives’ is helping students first to recognize and explore their own values, beliefs, knowledge, and experiences that they bring to any situation, and then to consider how someone else might address the same situation through a completely different lens.”

This issue of “Hallways” illustrates the myriad ways our students broaden their horizons and deepen their thoughts and appreciation of the people and global issues of our time. Each year, the girls embrace transformative projects that provide authentic, real-world research experiences. The questions posed by our SEEK students and Global Scholars exemplify their profound curiosity. Public Purpose initiatives, including partnerships with Lwala and the Nashville Diaper Connection, further expand perspectives as the girls actively take part in being a solution to local and global challenges. “It’s not enough for students to just know about the world; they also have to understand how to effectively and ethically act upon it,” notes Public Purpose coordinator Jessie Adams, Ph.D.

Harpeth Hall has valued global education and fostered global perspectives since its inception, and we wholeheartedly committed to its significance with the creation of Winterim 50 years ago. Winterim stands out as one of the distinguishing events in the lives of both students and alumnae. These three weeks build the capacity for insight, nurture the curious mind, and fulfill the yearning for discovery by our students. In addition, our international exchanges touch the lives of the girls who are participating and enrich our classrooms when the international students study here and participate in our co-curricular programs. Often, our alumnae carry forward lifelong friendships from these experiences.

This experiential learning harnesses Harpeth Hall’s ability to fulfill one of the essential components of our educational mission — to develop “responsible citizens who have global perspectives and make meaningful contributions to their communities and the world.”

Our alumnae have continued the tradition of making meaningful contributions to the world as they take what they learned at Harpeth Hall to make a notable difference internationally. They travel to war-torn countries to provide medical care. They support causes inspired by relationships they formed with international exchange host families. And, on nearly every continent (not Antarctica — yet), they are teachers, communicators, connectors, advocates, and financial experts.

Sending our young women into the world has always left me hopeful for the future. Our collective hope rides on the brilliance and curiosity of our students. I firmly believe that our very own “responsible citizens” through their “meaningful contributions” will make the world a better place for all of us tomorrow.

Jess Hill
Head of School