Miss Hall's alumna donates $5 million to school

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PITTSFIELD — A dedicated Miss Hall's School alumna has delivered a $5 million gift to her alma mater — the single-largest gift ever received by the all-girls school from a living benefactor.

Head of School Julia Heaton officially announced the gift Tuesday from Theresa "Terry" S. Thompson, Class of 1964, to faculty and staff, followed by the distribution of a press announcement to national media outlets.

Thompson, of Lewisburg, W.Va., and New York, N.Y., has long been a supporter of Miss Hall's in ways both public and behind-the-scenes. Thompson grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, south of Toledo, where her father, Henry L. Thompson Jr., was a prominent businessman.

She is a former Miss Hall's trustee and is a current member of the school's Emeritus Trustee Advisory Council. She has also been a member of the school's Heritage Society and Arts Advisory Council, and regularly visits the Holmes Road campus.

"I have been so moved by the teachers, coaches and role models who work with students each day that I wanted to make a major contribution to MHS," Thompson said in a prepared statement. "I am proud to be a Miss Hall's alumna, and I believe one of the ways we can show appreciation for what the School has meant in our lives is to support its important work in meaningful, substantive ways that make a difference in the lives of future women leaders."

Thompson has made previous contributions to the school, and through the Heritage Society encourages other alumnae to plan legacy gifts to the school. But this contribution, according to the press announcement, is expressly "dedicated to supporting innovative teaching by building on a tradition of academic excellence that dates to the School's founding in 1898."

Heaton said the gift is not an endowment fund but rather an investment to be used now to support teacher salaries and professional development.

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"This amazing gift will support teachers who innovate every day and provide students with opportunities to pursue their ambitions to the fullest," Heaton said.

Miss Hall's, a boarding and day school, currently enrolls 218 young women in Grades 9-12 and employs 38 full- and part-time faculty who offer 100 different courses taught in 155 sections. The school's curricula emphasizes women's empowerment through "interdisciplinary, project-based and collaborative learning," delivered in a 6-to-1 student/faculty ratio.

Heaton said Thompson's gift is "timely," as faculty recently participated in a strategic curriculum design process putting a new emphasis on developing and expanding "innovative academic programs," and course offerings for students and supporting professional growth among faculty.

"Terry's bold commitment to empowering girls with vision, voice, gumption, and interpersonal efficacy is exciting," said Stacey Sotirhos, president of the Miss Hall's board of trustees and a member of the Class of 1989. "Not only will it shape classroom experiences of students for years to come, but it is also inspiring others to do everything we can to support Miss Hall's."

Dozens of members of the Miss Hall's community responded favorably to the news as it spread across social media. In a Facebook post, Class of 1989 alumna Darcey Robinson wrote, "Thank you for the wonderful gift. It helps to ensure our special school continues to thrive."

Heaton told The Eagle that Thompson is expected to return to campus in May to participate in various activities.

"We're excited to have her back and be able to thank her with the faculty," she said.


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