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VOL. 125 | NO. 232 | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hutchison School Receives Major Gift for Leadership Program

By Bill Dries

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Hutchison School’s leadership program has been bolstered by a “seven figure gift” announced by the school Monday from alumna and Hutchison trustee Abbie Ware Williams and her husband, Duncan Williams, president and CEO of Duncan-Williams Inc. investment banking firm.

The gift is the third largest in the 108-year history of the girls’ school.

The funding is for a leadership program through the school’s Center for Excellence and would expand the leadership outreach through the already existing Hutchison Leads program, which is still in its inaugural year.

“We wanted to create a program where girls could develop the skills needed to emerge as Memphis’ next generation of business and civic leaders and also bridge the gap between public and private schools by expanding community learning opportunities on the Hutchison campus,” Abbie Ware Williams said. “It’s important to us that these resources serve a public purpose.”

The school’s center for excellence has a leadership institute the Williams gift will provide funding for. The center provides enrichment programs open to students in all Memphis area schools as well as adults. The center also runs four student leadership summits each year for student leaders in grades 5-12. The summits explore the ethics of leadership and the impact leadership can have in the life of a school.

The Leadership Institute is one of six components of Hutchison’s Center for Excellence, which includes a parents center, a sports academy and training for educators.

Dr. Annette Smith, Hutchison head of school, called the gift “a significant contribution to the development and empowerment of girls’ leadership.”

“They understand how important it is for a school with well established roots in a community to serve that community,” she said.

Hutchison Leads helps students at the school secure internships. The organization recently launched a guest speaker series that will feature Roxana Saberi, author of “Between Two Worlds,” in March. Saberi will speak on the human rights campaign in Iran.

Hutchison’s leadership efforts have already linked up with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has become active in Memphis City Schools reform efforts.

The Gates Foundation also funds Stand for Children, a child advocacy group sponsoring a series of study circles at Hutchison this fall that also includes the Memphis-based group “Common Ground.”

The Hutchison leadership effort is similar to the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence at Presbyterian Day School (PDS). The PDS program, endowed by the Martin Family, including venture capitalist Brad Martin, focuses on professional development for public and private school teachers.

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