The Harpeth Hall School announces with great pleasure the establishment of four permanent tributes honoring Dr. Stephanie Balmer, our beloved sixth Head of School from 2014 to 2018. When the Harpeth Hall community lost our warm, vibrant, and energetic leader in February 2018, students, parents, faculty, alumnae, friends, and colleagues responded with heartfelt remembrances and gifts in her honor. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of over 1,000 donors to the Stephanie Balmer Memorial Fund, Dr. Balmer’s exemplary leadership will continue to have a positive impact on Harpeth Hall and on generations of young women. The tributes are:
- Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement
- Stephanie Balmer Scholarship Fund
- Stephanie Balmer National Advisory Council (NAC) Grant
- Stephanie Balmer Head of School Portrait
A full description of each tribute can be found in the Dr. Stephanie Balmer Tribute Brochure. For a summary of each tribute, please read below.
Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement
In February 2018, the Board of Trustees appointed the Stephanie Balmer Honor Committee to determine the best ways to honor the life, leadership, and good works of Dr. Stephanie Balmer. As part of that charge, the committee collaborated for two years with Page Duke Landscape Architects to design a working garden in Dr. Balmer's honor.
In May 2020, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved plans for the Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement. Located in the same space that Dr. Balmer worked with students and faculty to plan a school garden, this expanded garden will serve as a community garden, an outdoor classroom, a gathering space, and a beautiful natural retreat which will combine beauty with function and enhance the east side of campus. This teaching garden will promote student learning, interaction, connection, reflection, artistic endeavors, and a general curiosity about nature. Consistent with the school’s commitment to sustainability, Harpeth Hall will better teach girls about the importance of caring for our environment and the critical role our land plays in our sustenance through this garden. Construction of the Stephanie Balmer Garden for Student Engagement is currently underway with an initial completion date expected in 2021. Realization of the entire future vision for the garden will occur over time.
Stephanie Balmer Scholarship Fund
During her tenure from 2014 to 2018 as Harpeth Hall’s Head of School, Dr. Balmer led with enthusiasm and joy. A life-long learner, she exuded a bright and intellectual vitality that inspired all who knew her. She championed the education of girls and young women, valuing each student for her unique and authentic self. Dr. Balmer was deeply committed to innovative teaching, social and emotional wellness for students, and equity and inclusion. With a lead memorial gift from John and Stephanie Currey Ingram ‘82, the Board of Trustees established a scholarship fund in 2018 for girls demonstrating financial need to honor the legacy of Dr. Balmer’s leadership and the values that she held dear. Click here to learn more about Harpeth Hall's financial aid program.
Stephanie Balmer National Advisory Council Grant
Alumnae leaders from around the country serving on Harpeth Hall’s National Advisory Council in 2017-18 and 2018-19 united to establish the Stephanie Balmer National Advisory Council (NAC) Grant, under the leadership of NAC Co-Chairs Marcie Allen Van Mol ’92 and Alison Smith ’79. In 2019, Derek and Marcie Allen Van Mol ’92 made a commitment to permanently endow the grant, which is awarded each year to a junior for an internship or special study program during the summer before her senior year. Dr. Balmer inspired our school community with her enthusiasm for learning and her confidence to step outside of her comfort zone. This program continues Dr. Balmer’s legacy by supporting a student who wishes to expand her educational experience in preparation for college and her career and that reflects a bold pursuit of knowledge in a field of great interest to the student. Click here to learn more about the application process. Click here to learn more about Harpeth Hall's National Advisory Council.
Stephanie Balmer Head of School Portrait
The Board of Trustees commissioned renowned artist Michael Shane Neal to paint Dr. Balmer’s portrait, which is featured prominently in Souby Hall at Harpeth Hall along with the portraits of former Heads of School.
Honoring Stephanie Balmer
“Steph epitomized love and gave it in abundance. She was unceasingly kind, and deeply cared for and honored others, with no sense of self-pride but only humility. She valued integrity and truth and doing what is right and good. She always trusted, hoped and persevered. We have been reminded that ‘to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.’ We continue to draw strength from Steph’s love and example even in her absence, and we are profoundly grateful for all these meaningful tributes and tangible, beautiful, and enduring reminders of her joyful spirit.” — Lauren and Isabel Balmer ’20