Jess Hill is the Seventh Head of The Harpeth Hall School
Jess Hill was installed as the seventh head of The Harpeth Hall School on Friday, March 29, 2019. The Investiture ceremony was held in the Harpeth Hall Athletic and Wellness Center and was attended by more than 1,200 people in the Harpeth Hall community. The audience included students, trustees, faculty, staff, current families, alumnae, parents of alumnae, grandparents, the family and friends of the Hill family, and the Heads of School of 17 schools, three past Heads of Harpeth Hall, and representatives from Vanderbilt University and Sewanee: The University of the South, both Mrs. Hill's alma maters.
The morning investiture ceremony began with a bagpiper solo that lead the procession of student flag bearers representing Harpeth Hall and the four Harpeth Hall Club Flags: Angkor, Ariston, Eccowasin, and Triad. The procession also included the Board of Trustees and Harpeth Hall faculty in academic robes. With more than 90 girls participating, Harpeth Hall students played a significant role in the ceremony and included performances by the 7th and 8th grade orchestra, the upper school Chamber Choir, student tributes to Mrs. Hill from the middle school and the upper school, and a beautiful student poem. Representatives of Harpeth Hall trustees, alumnae, faculty, and parents, each spoke as well.
An important part of an investiture is a keynote address that frames the qualities and qualifications of the person being honored. Chosen for this important speech was Dr. Lisa Damour, acclaimed teen psychologist and New York Times best-selling author. She is also Jess Hill's friend.
In her remarks, Dr. Damour spoke about the importance of educating girls, "[There are] important qualities that we should help cultivate in girls - qualities that will fortify them for whatever comes their way. Here, in particular, is where Jess comes in," she continued. "Jess, as much as any educator I know (and I know a lot of educators) embodies several specific characteristics that every girl should aim to develop." Read the full text of Dr. Damour's speech here.
Following Dr. Damour's remarks, Board Chair Jane Berry Jacques '72 presented the charge from the Board of Trustees: "Mrs. Hill - for many years, you have embraced, upheld, and helped articulate the ideals set forth in our Mission and Core Purpose. You have played an integral part in leading our students and teachers to achieve at the highest level, and you are the ideal educator to continue our mission of providing the best education possible for girls in Nashville. You are a collaborative, strategic, optimistic, and compassionate leader who possesses an unsurpassed strength of character. You are committed to instilling confidence in young women and equipping them for success at Harpeth Hall, in college, and in their lives."
In accepting the charge to lead Harpeth Hall, Mrs. Hill thanked all the speakers and attendees, and she addressed the students directly in the following excerpt: "Connection is one of those words I tend to use often. We can't go it alone. Girls, you are at the age when you are struggling to be fiercely independent. I applaud you for that and I encourage you in that endeavor. I hope at the same time you will remember the moments that have woven you into the fabric of our school, not the bricks and mortar, fireplaces, and lawns and gardens, but into this space where we come together and celebrate the strength, character, intellect, challenges, depths, and accomplishments of girls every day.
"Today, we have paused to mark this time when we are all beginning a new and exciting chapter in Harpeth Hall's history together. I need you. I can't go it alone. Together, we will build and preserve this space where 'a community of truth is practiced.'
"There is great power in a community of girls and young women, sisters, here, in this space, for each other."
Congratulations Mrs. Hill! It was a wonderful day of celebration for The Harpeth Hall School community.