Head of School Search
Ashley Hall is currently engaged in a search for a new Head of School to lead our 112-year institution, a preeminent school for girls in the region and the nation. We anticipate welcoming our new Head of School July 1, 2023. Please reference this page for all updates on this important and exciting transition for Ashley Hall.
Chair, Ashley Hall Board of Trustees | Anne Frances Bleecker ’76
December 15, 2021
Dear Members of Our Ashley Hall Community:
Jill Muti has long understood the importance of empowering girls to think independently, champion their own education at each stage of their development, and prepare to lead confident and ethically responsible lives. Because of her vision and leadership, the last two decades at our treasured, century-old institution have been a time of imaginative thinking, profound growth, and enduring strength.
I write to announce that Jill Muti will leave her position as Ashley Hall’s Head of School at the end of this school year. With the fulfillment of her strategic vision complete, Jill has decided, and we agreed, the time is right to move toward the next phase of her career. Toward that end, Jill will assume a new role as Head of School at St. Stephen’s School, an American day and boarding International Baccalaureate World School located in Rome, Italy.
We thank Jill for her dedication and the host of transformative milestones she has orchestrated, including:
• The Ashley Hall Learning Spiral, a comprehensive curricular approach to education that features an intentional pattern of incremental learning from the pre-primary years through high school;
• The custodianship, expansion, and improvement of our beautiful 10-acre urban campus for historic preservation, upgraded and reimagined for 21st century learning;
• A global mindset and ethos that lives out through our Global Studies and International Programs which help students prepare to address the challenges of the next generation;
• Educational partnerships with community non-profits such as the Medical University of South Carolina; Gibbes Museum, and Horizons, among others, inextricably linking our school community to Charleston in partnership, citizenship, and service;
• A robust faculty professional development program that cultivates intellectual engagement, and academic growth for faculty and students alike;
• A diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging commitment essential to achieving educational and academic excellence; and,
• A healthy financial picture for the school, further strengthening our position for the future.
The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Dr. Anne Weston, Assistant Head of Ashley Hall and Director of Upper School, will serve as Interim Head of School, leading our school through this important time and helping ensure a smooth and successful transition.
Dr. Weston, herself an alumna of Ashley Hall (‘73), joined Ashley Hall as Assistant Head of School in July 2015 and was named Director of Upper School in 2018. Previously she served in a variety of posts with Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC, including as teacher, Intermediate School and Upper School Principal, Assistant Head, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Provost and Interim Head of School. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Biology and a Doctorate in Health Promotion and Education both from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Weston has worked together with her colleagues on important curricular improvements and the strengthening of vital wellness programs in Ashley Hall’s Upper School, while celebrating with them an expanding record of student scholarship and college placements. She is an outstanding communicator, a positive and confident leader and a strong advocate for women and girls.
The Board has assembled a Search Committee to lead what will be a thoughtful and rigorous search process with input from the widest possible range of voices. To ensure a comprehensive and successful search, the committee will engage an executive search firm with expertise in the field of education with a goal of welcoming our next Head of School on July 1, 2023. This process will include extensive efforts to understand the Ashley Hall community and our needs, including interviewing many members of our faculty, student body, parents, and alumnae communities. We will continue to keep you closely informed of our progress on this important work.
Today, generations of distinguished Ashley Hall alumnae are making their mark on the world. Our position as a preeminent school for girls and young women in the region remains strong, with record-high enrollment, vital community relationships and an outstanding and loyal faculty and parent body whose dedication to our children is truly matchless.
Over the next six months, in partnership with faculty and families, we will cheer our students as they celebrate milestones, stretch their ambitions, and prepare for their futures, all while living out Ashley Hall’s enduring values. At the same time, all of us in the extended Ashley Hall community pledge to support Jill, Dr. Weston, and the Board of Trustees as, together, we lay the path for the next generation of leadership and an even brighter future for our extraordinary school.
In Dedication to the Ashley Hall Community,
Anne Frances Bleecker ’76
Chair, Ashley Hall Board of Trustees
Head of School, Ashley Hall | Jill Muti
December 15, 2021
Dear Members of the Ashley Hall Community,
It’s a gorgeous day on campus, and as I stand on the balcony of McBee House, I can’t help but think about the beautiful mission of our school and how it comes alive on our campus today: to produce educated women who are independent, ethically responsible and prepared to meet the challenges of society with confidence. When I joined the school 18 years ago, there was a palpable sense of promise, a desire to embrace new ideas and act boldly to realize the wonderful potential of Ashley Hall in the 21st century.
My favorite phrase that continues to lead every conversation is: “It’s all about the girls!” Every decision we have made collectively has been guided by our mission as we authentically thought about what an all girls’ education needed to look like for its second century. We have revitalized the School’s classical curriculum and executed several comprehensive strategic plans encompassing programmatic advances, 95,000 square feet of new and re-purposed facilities, impactful community engagement, and global immersion, from foreign language study to international travel opportunities.
Time has flown by so quickly, but the magic has really been in the collective will to create an authentic environment that honors our mission and hallmarks and in turn, the success of each and every student. We have created the Ashley Hall Learning Spiral, a curricular achievement unsurpassed in the School’s history. This comprehensive approach to education features the student prominently at the center and presents an intentional, consistent pattern of learning. We know that students who are exposed to our Learning Spiral approach are more confident, more independent, and more capable of championing their own education. From our Early Education Center students engaged in creative play with their popular water tables and Lower School’s dedicated work with the sea turtle rescue, to boat building by Intermediate Program STEAM students, to Upper School’s new Take Action Globally program centered on the UN Sustainable Development Goals of water conservation and preservation, the Spiral supports students at each stage of development. It is a beauty to behold.
Our faculty are truly the heartbeat of our campus. Their tireless devotion and passion for their work is a testament to their commitment to our girls, as is their commitment to personal growth through professional development. With our investment in faculty professional development over the past 18 years, proposals put forward by individual teachers and cohorts of teachers have grown programs that have become distinctive to Ashley Hall. Examples include the Reggio Emilia Program in our Early Childhood Center; specialized learning environments for early adolescents: the Intermediate Program and the Nautilus Program; integration of technology throughout the school; use of the Oral Proficiency Interview as the terminal assessment practice in our foreign languages program; the introduction of Robotics and Advanced Placement Computer Science; the use of Harkness discussion methods in our humanities courses; and an innovative collaboration in neuroscience with the Medical University of South Carolina as one example of many strategic partnerships drawing upon the wealth of local resources. I am so very proud of their work.
The physical transformation of Ashley Hall’s campus has been tremendous, a renaissance that is evidence of a more profound cultural transformation that has elevated the School to the place of prominence it holds today—locally, regionally, and nationally. One of the projects of which I am most proud is the building of the Rivers Library and Hoshall Science Center which was the first LEED certified secondary education building in South Carolina, a commitment to creating a healthy, sustainable, and livable learning space for our students. Many Upper School girls consider our campus similar to what they might expect of a small college, with the addition of the Warren Street House for Humanities on Smith Street and the Elizabeth Rivers Lewine ‘54 House for Global Studies on Rutledge Avenue.
We have fostered global awareness and immersion not only by integrating international students and teachers into our campus community but also by greatly expanding opportunities for study abroad in ways that deeply connect students and faculty to new cultures, languages, and experiences. Ashley Hall has become a boarding school once again and the School now has a campus in Europe that can be used on an annual basis as it continues to innovate and create new programs.
When I think of all that we have accomplished together, the Board of Trustees, a seasoned administrative team and fabulous innovative faculty supported by loving parents and committed alumnae, it has been breathtaking. As I listen to peals of laughter on the lawn, I know that my work at Ashley Hall is coming to an end. Now in its second decade of its second century, the School is in a position to thrive as it embraces the new strategic initiative adopted by the Board of Trustees. It wonderfully intertwines the school’s goals regarding diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging essential to achieving educational and academic excellence.
This year at Ashley Hall will be my last. I am pleased to announce that beginning in the fall of 2022 I will take a new position as Head of School at St. Stephen’s School, an American day and boarding International Baccalaureate World School located in Rome, Italy.
I treasure the memories I have of decades of students, faculty and families alike. It has been an honor and privilege to serve this vibrant community, value its history and traditions, and lay the foundations for a bold future.
I’d like to leave you with a stanza of our school anthem, A Dream is All it Is, written by former assistant head of school for academic affairs and current faculty member, Dr. Nick Bozanic in 2019.
“A dream is all it is, the end of all desire;
feed it with your hours as you would feed a fire, so that it burns more brightly every day
and warms the world around you on your way.”
Possunt Quae Volunt Always,
Jill Swisher Muti
Ashley Hall School Announces Departure of Head of School Jill Muti in June 2022
ASHLEY HALL SCHOOL ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE OF HEAD OF SCHOOL JILL MUTI IN JUNE 2022: LONGSTANDING LEADER OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S ONLY INDEPENDENT GIRLS’ SCHOOL LEAVES A LEGACY OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Charleston, SC, December 15 — Ashley Hall announced today that Jill Muti, the Head of School, will leave her position on June 30, 2022. The Ashley Hall Board of Trustees will launch a national search for new leadership to build upon Muti’s nearly two decades of accomplishments that have ensured the 112-year institution’s place as a preeminent school for girls in the region and the nation. It is expected that a new Head of School will assume the role on July 1, 2023.
“Jill Muti has made an indelible impact on Ashley Hall’s stature and reputation for building self-reliant, independent thinking, and confident young women at every stage of their development. Today we enjoy record-high enrollment, deep community relationships, and an outstanding and loyal faculty and parent community whose devotion to our children is matchless. Jill will be forever part of Ashley Hall and we wish her all the best,” said Anne Frances Bleecker, Chair of the Ashley Hall Board of Trustees.
Muti, who has accepted the position of Head of School at the prestigious St. Stephen’s School, an American day and boarding International Baccalaureate World School located in Rome, Italy, said, “It has been an honor to serve the Ashley Hall community for 18 years. Together with our Board, faculty, alumnae, and students, we have created an authentic learning environment that honors Ashley Hall’s enduring mission and hallmarks. The important work of preparing girls to meet the challenges of the 21st century with confidence has driven all that we have accomplished at Ashley Hall. I embark on the next phase of my career filled with gratitude.”
Among Muti’s signature achievements at Ashley Hall are:
• Engineering the Ashley Hall Learning Spiral, a comprehensive curricular approach to education that features an intentional pattern of incremental learning from pre-primary students to seniors that serves the intellectual, emotional, and physical needs of each student in every phase of development.
• Reimagining the school’s faculty professional development program to create an institution of continuous intellectual pursuit and academic growth, benefiting faculty and students alike.
• Establishing a school-wide focus on whole-child development, with a comprehensive health and wellness program and specialized learning environments for early adolescents: the Intermediate Program for 5th and 6th graders and the Nautilus Program for 7th and 8th graders.
• Implementing a Global Studies Program that focuses on foreign language immersion and acquisition and international travel opportunities.
• Fostering a student leadership program emphasizing responsibility and real-world experiences, including a Junior Internship experience and a Senior Projects initiative linked to community action.
• Leading the renovation and expansion of Ashley Hall’s 10-acre urban campus including the preservation of two historic properties transformed into 21st century learning environments.
• Creating community partnerships with Charleston area non-profits such as the Medical University of South Carolina, Gibbes Museum, and Horizons, South Carolina’s first tuition-free summer educational and enrichment program to advance educational equity.
• Championing a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging commitment essential to achieving educational and academic excellence.
Dr. Anne Thornhill Weston ‘73, currently Assistant Head of School and Director of Upper School, will serve as Interim Head of School. A seasoned administrator and alumna, she will lend her experience and knowledge of the school to guiding the community through a smooth and successful transition. Dr. Weston joined Ashley Hall in July 2015 after a succession of leadership roles at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC, including as teacher, Intermediate School and Upper School Principal, Assistant Head, Director of Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Provost and Interim Head of School. With a Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Biology and a Doctorate in Health Promotion and Education both from the University of South Carolina, she has worked together with her colleagues on important curricular improvements and the strengthening of vital wellness programs in Ashley Hall’s Upper School, while celebrating with them an expanding record of student scholarship and college placements.
“Today, generations of distinguished Ashley Hall alumnae are making their mark on the world. The next six months will be a time of celebrating the innumerable ways Jill Muti has enriched our community, and looking forward to the next era of this extraordinary school that will fuel the pipeline of leaders for years to come,” Bleecker said.