As we dive into the 19th academic year at AGS, we look to our theme Open Eyes. Open Minds. Open Hearts. to guide us in all pursuits. Head of School Ayanna Hill-Gill shares more about the theme in the video below of our Opening Assembly for the 2018-19 school year.
Welcome from the Head
Ayanna Hill-Gill, Head of School
I am often asked what it is about AGS that is different from other schools. This question prompts me to reminisce about my very first visit to Atlanta Girls’ School in 2008, before I ever envisioned becoming the Head of School. I was in Atlanta for a single-gender conference with Dr. Leonard Sax and had researched “girls’ schools in Atlanta” so I could make the most of my visit. The one school that popped up was AGS. At that visit, I was welcomed by a student ambassador, who shared that she loved AGS because of her teachers’ dedication to girls’ learning which enabled her to discover her passions. During the tour, when she and I would stop at a classroom, the teacher would introduce herself and ask one of the students to share what they were doing in class. At the conclusion of the meeting I was brought into the lobby, where I was struck by the Founders’ Charge on the wall and one part in particular: “Listen. Ask questions. Be bold. And wed yourselves to joy.”
So, six years later, when remembering my visit in 2008, I always describe it in one word: authentic. AGS is a place where girls are allowed to be who they are as well as become the leaders they are destined to be. The school is centered on what is best for girls, both in and out of the classroom, in a way that provides a vigorous academic experience complemented by a co-curricular experience that keeps the whole student at its core. It is intentionally designed to be small, so that girls are able to connect and be visible and known. Our teachers are national leaders in girls’ education and are committed to creating collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities. Not only does our all-girls’ environment allow each student to maximize the way she learns best, it also fosters a community where she will stretch intellectually across the variety of subjects we offer, allowing her to find her authentic voice.
Our website is full of great information, but the best way for you to experience how we execute our mission is to visit the school. And when you do, you will notice that being small allows us to build an inclusive community that celebrates authentic diversity with students and faculty of different backgrounds, religions, cultures, and experiences. While you are here, you will grow to understand that each student demonstrates ownership over her learning, which is evident when she leads her individual parent and teacher conferences and articulates her goals, strengths, and challenges. If you happen to visit on a Wednesday, you will experience our students leading the weekly assembly that often includes senior speeches that reflect growth, discovery, and meaning.
I personally welcome you to visit AGS and experience for yourself the only all-girls’ nonsectarian independent school in Atlanta that has made a lasting impression on me for years! Come and experience the best place for girls!
During your tour, you will meet our students, who will describe their journeys of learning and how AGS allows them to discover and pursue their passions. Throughout your visit, you can hear directly from teachers who are national leaders in girls’ education about their commitment to creating collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities.
Ayanna Hill-Gill is affectionately known as Yanni. Prior to joining AGS in 2014, Yanni worked at Purnell School, a boarding school for girls in New Jersey, where she was the Head of School since 2007.
Yanni holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from Dickinson College and a master’s degree from Columbia University Teacher’s College with an emphasis on Private School Leadership. She has been a yearlong Klingenstein Fellow and an EE Ford Fellow for NAIS’ Aspiring Heads Program.
Prior to her tenure at Purnell, Yanni worked at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden building their community outreach program and developing curriculum for children’s educational programs. In 1992, Yanni lived in Costa Rica while studying sustainable development and conducting independent research in water quality. It was these two experiences that led Yanni to teaching, particularly science.
In the Community
Yanni currently serves on the Board of the Heads Network and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. She serves locally as a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Village Project, an all-girls’ school for refugees in Decatur, GA. Yanni is a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2017 and a Trustee on Emory University’s Board of Visitors. She currently serves as the President of the Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools (AAAIS). As a graduate of an all-girls’ school in Philadelphia, Yanni has committed her career to creating opportunities for girls and young women to discover their voices, achieve success, and become leaders in the fields of their choice.