From the Head of School

Dear MHS Alumnae and Friends,
I hope you are all well, safe, and managing to navigate this ongoing situation in good health and in good spirits. I have heard from many of you in the past weeks with words of encouragement — thank you for taking the time to reach out. Your news and well wishes are always welcome, and I promise to do my best to maintain connections in every way possible.
As you likely know, the Governor of Massachusetts has extended the mandatory closure of all schools in the state through June. While our Incident Response Team made this decision for MHS several weeks ago , our Leadership Team and Trustees continue to meet regularly to make end-of-year plans and map out scenarios for next year.

We are working with students — especially the Class of 2020 — to find creative ways to recognize their achievements and carry on the beloved traditions that make May at Miss Hall’s so special. Our Alumnae Council, under the leadership of Mary Atwood ’83 and Board President Nancy Gustafson Ault ’73, is actively engaged in honoring the seniors and in boosting our juniors. It’s wonderful to feel the blue and gold connection through the decades.

Alumnae Council strategizes about lifting up our students
Here on Holmes Road, five students remain on campus and have been making plans to travel home or to host families in coming weeks. All are in good health and eager, as many of you are, for life to return to something more approaching normal. Mother Nature is doing her part, as the pond is full of peepers, buds and birds are on the trees, and the Ara West Grinnell 1901 Greenhouse is bursting with plants cultivated by the Class of 2023.
Community Action
Before Spring Break, two sophomores, Cailyn Tetteh ’22 and Truc Hoang ’22 , proposed a relief fund to help friends struggling to adjust travel plans as the virus spread across the U.S. Their idea was to band together — individual student contributions and class gifts, plus support from MHS alumnae, family, and friends — to make a direct impact on the lives of students, right now. 

This vision is realized in the establishment of a Community Action Fund to help MHS students, faculty, and staff facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The emergency fund is $40,000 so far!  Click here to learn more and contribute.
Cailyn Tetteh and Truc Hoang
What Distance Learning Looks Like
Wrapping up our third week of remote learning, I am heartened by what I’m hearing from students, parents, and faculty. Teachers are buoyed by the eagerness of the girls to get back to learning, by their resilience in working through challenges, and by their commitment to doing impressive work under less-than-ideal circumstances. On one hand, students have expressed frustration at the uncertainty of this new world and a desire for the time and space to adjust to the new paradigm. This is an unsettling time, to be sure, and each of us experiences it in different ways. Dean of Equity and Inclusion Paula Lima Jones recently shared this social media post that helps illustrate the different realities we are facing. As you would expect from the village that is Miss Hall's, students’ personal teams are activated and their networks of support are helping them through.

Academically, students are embracing their independence, finding ways to carry on their various projects, and working together to create community connections. I am incredibly inspired by our faculty’s ceaseless adapting and use of innovative approaches to engage. The thoughtful and compassionate commitments they have made to guide their teaching through the end of the school year speak volumes about Miss Hall’s and the value our teachers place on partnering with students and with each other throughout these extraordinary circumstances. Led by Dean of Academics and Faculty Lisa Alberti ’73 and our outstanding Department Chairs, MHS teachers model what it means to be lifelong learners and reflective practitioners.
In Richard Scullin’s English class, for example, students have been reflecting on and responding to their worlds by writing about their experiences and making artifacts in the form of poems, videos, drawings, dance, or other creations that interpret their lived experience. Here’s an example a student shared earlier this week . Dr. Chris Himes’s students, meanwhile, have jumped back into app design work, eagerly discussing strategy and collaborating around the globe on business plans. Students on the Girls Right the World team are working with Emily Pulfer Terino 96 toward publishing the international journal’s fourth issue, having received more than 300 submissions from 29 states and 15 countries. Likewise, students in Liz Kulze’s Miss Hall’s Makes digital newsroom are forging ahead to publish standout student work on our student-curated blog.

I marvel at our students digging in, adjusting to the new look and feel of learning, and doing exceptional work.
Bold and Creative In a Storm
Members of our indefatigable community continue to live the Miss Hall’s mission of contributing boldly and creatively to the common good. A few examples:

  • Students in Ellie Spangler’s Garment an Textile Design class have created “Mira’s Masks,” an initiative to identify students, student family members, faculty, and staff in need of facial protection and galvanize the sewing community at MHS in the making of homemade masks.

  • In February, as the coronavirus crisis was in full swing in China, Elin Chen ’22, Julianna Jia ’22, Dorothy Shi ’22, Kaity Weng ’22, Sammie Yu ’22, Christina Zheng ’22, and Ivy Zhou ’22 launched a fundraising initiative to support the purchase of medical supplies needed by healthcare workers. Supported by the Chinese Culture Club, the Relief Awareness Facts Team (RAFT) donated all proceeds to the Wuhan Tongji Hospital in China.

  • No less than ten shipments of life-saving personal protective equipment have been donated by students’ families in China, totaling some 5,000 surgical facemasks, 480 protective masks, nearly 700 N95 respirators, 175 gowns/scrubs, more than 1,000 pairs of exam gloves, and 30 medical face shields that have been distributed to the Miss Hall’s Health Center and to Horizons partners in need, including Berkshire Medical Center, Dr. Brian Dempsey’s office, Fairview Hospital, the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and the Berkshire Food Project. Amazing!
Recently, The Berkshire Eagle , wrote about these efforts , and I shared with the reporter how honored and thankful I am to be part of an international community committed to global citizenship. I am so proud of the Miss Hall’s community members pitching in to help others through this crisis.

Horizons Director Alison Basdekis delivers PPEs with love
Mira Strong
I am pleased by how our students and adults are navigating this time, how we are staying consistent with our mission and values , and how, from the Board of Trustees to every member of our faculty and staff, we are doubling down on our strategic goals related to innovation, inclusion, collaboration, service, and flexibility. I am reminded again and again that Miss Hall’s School is not just a campus and not just a school. It is a community, it is an ethos, and it is a way of being that is bigger than the institution itself.
We needn’t look far for inspiration as there are many amazing women among us. I hope you have been enjoying our weekly Global Changemakers series spotlighting MHS women making a difference in the world. The series will be back next week by popular demand. Our founder, Mira Hall, set the gold standard.
Mira Hall by Yaya
Designed by Yaya Wang 20
On Tuesday we marked Mira Hall’s 157 th birthday. Like many special occasions these days, we unfortunately could not celebrate her life and accomplishments together as we normally would — with strawberries and ice cream. Instead, I asked our community to reflect on what Mira Hall’s school means to all of us. For me it is the undeniable resilience of this community and lasting relationships built and strengthened here.
I look forward to the day when we will be together again and hope you are saving the dates May 14-16, 2021 for one heck of a reunion! Beyond welcoming classes ending in 0, 1, 5, and 9, we would love to see YOU back on campus then, if not before.

For now, please know that we are thinking of you and are deeply grateful for all you do as part of the Miss Hall’s community. Be well and do not hesitate to reach out.
My best to you and yours,
PS - To elevate spirits in this time of isolation, I share with you the Accepted Students Day webpage we created for applicants in lieu of campus re-visits this spring. Although it was made for teenage girls and their families, I find delight in seeing students and faculty sharing the Miss Hall’s Magic, together. I hope you will enjoy it, too.

Give to the MHS Community Action Fund