New Miss Hall's School head called 'a moral compass for girls'

Saturday October 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Miss Hall's School hired Margaret A. Jablonski in July, but on Friday the Springfield native officially became the 10th head of school.

More than 400 Miss Hall's students, faculty, alumni, staff, trustees, families and other guests attended a convocation filled with remarks on Jablonski, on the purpose of an all-girls education, and plans and ideas for the continuing school year. The convocation coincided with the school's Fall Family Weekend in Pittsfield.

Selected students from each class presented essays and a gift to welcome "Dr. J.," as the students have become accustomed to calling Jablonski. Her friends and colleagues call
her "Peggy."

The four student readers -- freshman Indiana Ravenhill, sophomore Phoebe Spare, junior Marina Yoshimura and senior Shiloh Frederick -- informed Jablonski of their thoughts, fears and ideas, which are all inherently Jablonski's charges as a school leader.

In her essay, Spare listed school work, making friends, and finding a career as among her peers' fears.

"For Dr. J., fear is realizing Ms. [Jeannie] Norris left big shoes to fill," said Spare, referring to the former head of school.

"But today, let's all move beyond our fears and move forward," Spare said.

Stacey Sortirhos, vice president of Miss Hall's board of trustees, and a member of the Class of 1989, said that the campus community can move forward with confidence in Jablonski, who left a nearly 30-year career in higher education to take on her new role at the college preparatory school.

Sortirhos described Jablonski as a "moral compass for girls." The trustee also quoted a statement from a member of the head of school search committee, saying, "Peggy will challenge the school in a good way and bring new ideas to the table."

"You're building the future of girls and this campus," said Sheila Murphy, a higher education senior search consultant who made keynote remarks on Friday.

"For a new head of school, it's very exciting to be at a place grounded in tradition and welcoming of innovation," Jablonski told the assembly.

The head of school said she hopes to integrate her experiences with tradition and innovation into the campus climate.

Jablonski is a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland. She reminded students that her grandmother was only able to complete her education at the middle-school level.

"Girls, you have such outstanding opportunities here," she said.

Jablonski listed priorities for the school, including plans for a new academic building; ad vancing achievement in science, technology, enginee ring and math; girls' leadership; and expanding diversity initiatives.

Prior to joining Miss Hall's, Jablonski served as the vice president for student affairs at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.

She also worked at the administrative level for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, University of Connecticut, Mass a chu setts Institute of Tech nology, and Worcester Polytechnic Insti tute. She also taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Brown and North Carolina State University.

She holds a doctorate degree in education from Boston University and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in history and education, respectively, at UMass-Amherst.

To reach Jenn Smith:,
or (413) 496-6239
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink


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