In honor of Women's History Month, today we celebrate one of our school's founders, Miss Elizabeth Gill, who started The Gill School with the motto, Faith, Honor, Consideration. An educational pioneer, Miss Gill created a rich academic experience for her female charges through small class sizes and close student-teacher collaborations with instructors who encouraged their students' pursuits.
The Gill School – previously named Miss Gill's School in the Mendham Hills – moved to the Stronghold estate in Bernardsville in 1940. Its mission was to create, through small class sizes and direct student-teacher relationships, a "rich school experience." Miss Gill believed that "education must be highly individualized, and the school must be flexible enough in its policies and curriculum to meet varying needs."
One graduate, Patty Hallett Muchmore '66, described The Gill School as a supportive environment that sought to open its students' eyes to the world. "We were on the forefront of women's liberation, and Miss Gill believed the education of women was at that forefront, that you had to challenge women academically," she said. "At Gill, I developed personal confidence and curiosity for life and people. If you give a young girl confidence, she can do anything." Ms. Hallett Muchmore's activities included glee club, social committee, French club, dance, and yearbook. She also spearheaded a letter writing campaign against animal cruelty and traveled to France with her French teacher and 15 classmates.
Unlike other girls' finishing schools at the time, The Gill School provided a curriculum based on character and learning. A Missouri native, Miss Gill put herself through Columbia University's Teachers College to earn a master's degree. "Miss Gill took an enormous interest in her students and their futures," said Edie Clark '66. "She had a vision, and she didn't found the school to make money. She was inspired by John Dewey and progressive education."
Another student, the late Verdi Hoag Johnson '42, recalled her school (in a 2013 interview) as a warm, caring, and supporting environment that well-prepared her for life. "Miss Gill was such a lady. She walked very straight and tall and never held the handrail up the stairs. She was elegant, quite stern, and always had a twinkle in her eye."
In 1972, when The Gill School merged with the St. Bernard's School for boys and moved to the Gladstone campus, the newly formed learning institution retained The Gill School's fundamentals. Today the legacy set by Miss Gill is still alive at GSB, where an emphasis is placed on developing well-balanced pupils who are citizens of the world through close student-teacher interactions, co-curricular activities, both athletic and community-oriented, and experiential learning.