Students, faculty, staff, and honored guests were present for the morning ceremonies.
Campus was abuzz with excitement this morning, as guests gathered in the Main Gym to join the GPS community in celebrating the installation of Megan D. Cover, our 10th Head of School. Cover joins us from Tower Hill School (Wilmington, Delaware), where she served in a variety of roles including teacher, coach, department chair, dean, and head of upper school.
Students lined the stands in their class-colored uniforms, eager to experience a ceremony such as this for the first time as GPS girls. Faculty processed to George Frideric Handel’s “La Rejouissance,” performed by the GPS string musicians Soree Kim ’23, Sophia McGee ’23, Anisha Phade ’23, Madison Proctor '21, Savannah Stout '22, Megan Boehm '23, and Victoria Schmidlin ’27, and directed by Nichole Pitts.
Next, Cover made her way to the stage alongside Chairman of the Board of Trustees Clay Watson, Associate Head of School and Head of Middle School Lynne Macziewski, Head of Upper School Jenise Gordon, Faculty Emerita Jane Henegar, and speakers Michelle Shepherd and Andrea Glowatz.
The installation ceremony began with words from Chairman of the Board Clay Watson, who spoke on his experience co-chairing the Head of School Search Committee alongside board member Dr. Mary Tanner. “Through this experience I got to know Megan as a candidate for the leader of our school and was able to witness on many occasions her passion for independent school education as well as her desire to return to an all-girls environment, much like the one she experienced as a student at The Agnes Irwin School,” Watson said. “From the moment she said yes, Megan has been eager to get started in her new role as Head of School. And now, as she completes her second month on campus, we are just as excited about this new era for GPS. With fresh ideas, new approaches to educating girls, and a willingness to build a positive, inclusive culture, Megan will lead this institution to the levels of success that we have yet to see.”
In closing, Watson welcomed the entire Cover family to Chattanooga before introducing Henegar, who offered the invocation.
Students Alex Brumley ’26 and Frances Crowe ’22 spoke next, offering warm welcomes to Cover. Alex spoke about her first two years at GPS, and what an impact they have had on her. She also referenced her favorite traditions, May Day and Cat-Rat. In closing, she said, “I am honored to be helping welcome Mrs. Cover to the GPS community. I am very excited to get to know you and for you to get to know GPS. I’m looking forward to having you continue these traditions, and I hope your experience will be as rich and wonderful as mine.”
Frances, who serves as president of the Honor Council, spoke about the theme of the year, “Building Bridges,” saying, “One of the first remarks Ms. Cover made to the senior class was how struck she was by the deep generational love that runs through our school. As she embarks on this new journey as our Head of School, I know the student body has high hopes for her to continue to expand and cultivate the community that we have.
We hope she encourages the loving support that we have at our school, whether that be the support teachers have for their students, that students have for each other, or that alumnae have for students. Beyond that, we know that Ms. Cover brings with her a fresh, new perspective, which is another crucial component of our theme.”
Following the student speakers, the crowd heard “Why We Sing” from vocalists Morgan Hubbard ’23, Sarah Kalla ’22, and Caroline Rowe ’23. Mike Lees directed.
Words from Former Colleagues
The ceremony progressed with a series of speakers, selected by Cover and introduced by her husband, Ted. Michelle Shepherd, former Chair of the Board of Trustees at Tower Hill School, spoke first, noting how the GPS experience and traditions—down to the onyx class ring—reminded her of her alma mater in Baltimore. “Girls' schools are very special and unique places. There is a sisterhood that crosses not just class years, but generations–a shared and common experience,” she said. “And somehow that sisterhood–that shared experience–endures even as schools adapt and innovate.”
Shepherd continued her sentiments, telling listeners Cover is a tremendous leader who will propel GPS forward. “Schools like GPS are a gift, and they must be treasured. I’ve been around schools for a long time, and I can tell you that it’s not such an easy thing to preserve tradition and that spirit while continuing to advance and adapt. It takes the right kind of leader to do that and I’m confident that Megan Cover is that leader.”
Andrea Glowatz, Dean of Teaching and Learning at Tower Hill, spoke next. Glowatz stated that when Cover was interviewing for the position at GPS, she served as a reference and was asked to tell the interviewer something about Cover that wouldn’t be on her resume or in her interviews. Her answer: a proclivity for Top 40 music. With the help of lyrics from former hits—performed by female vocalists such as Cyndi Lauper, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and more—Glowatz emphasized, “Mrs. Cover embraces all the work she does in schools thoroughly, incisively, and enthusiastically—I think you know this already. I want to let you know how rare it is to meet an educator who is so dedicated to the entire community.”
Glowatz concluded by addressing GPS parents. “Megan Cover knows that your girls will be someone someday, but she also knows that your girls are already someone, right now. That’s an important distinction. Megan is deeply committed to nurturing women’s strengths—showing them the ‘beauty they possess inside.’”
The Cover Children Offer Congratulations
Cover’s three children spoke next, first Margaret, followed by her twin sister, Sophie, and then their older sister, Kathryn. Margaret spoke about attending school with her mom for as long as she could remember, loving it since her mom was a friendly face with great advice—and snacks. “The more time I spent in school with her, I realized I was not special in being able to have someone in my corner, always there to support me. I realized she was all of those things to her own students. My mom never stopped sharing her wisdom, love, and heart, with not only me, but all of her students. I am so proud to see how my mom’s love for teaching and open heart have led her to GPS, where she can now create an environment where every girl can feel like she has someone there for them in their corner.”
Sophie likened her mother’s career trajectory to the classic Hannah Montana song, “The Climb.” “While that climb might not be over yet, my mom has shown that hard work and determination only makes the view better,” she said. “As I look around now, the view isn’t just great—it’s amazing … throughout your ascent up the mountain, you have gone through many experiences that have helped you learn and grow, creating the strong and intelligent woman you are today.”
Kathryn spoke about Cover’s love of Netflix’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” “Moxy is the best word I can use to describe my mother. While one may look at talent through academic achievements and leadership positions, the talent that stands out most to me about my mother is her grit,” she said, noting how she wouldn’t let a worldwide pandemic ruin the celebration of recent senior classes. “She always stands tall and stays true to her character.”
Head of School Address
Cover spoke next, offering thanks to the original three founders of GPS, who started the school 116 years ago. “I am honored to uphold the legacy of Misses Duffy, Jarnagin, and McCallie and the mission of GPS: to prepare young women to live lives of integrity and purpose. In a world that is doing its best to test our honor, bravery, kindness, and civility, the foresight, courage, and innovation of our Founders is notable,” she said. “Their vision for girls remains as relevant and essential today as it did over a century ago. I salute our past heads of school whose shoes I humbly fill today and am grateful for their service.”
She then spoke of her love for the Naiad sculpture, which features four girls lifting their arms to the sky. “This sculpture made me consider: What is the essence of GPS? I feel it from afar, when I am on campus, or when I talk to a student or an alumna. It is not only present in our environment but lies innately in each girl who attends this school. It is her heart and soul. It is her humility, sincerity, honesty, and grace. It is her drive, resilience, growth, and achievement. It is her spirit, her intellect, and her kindness. It is her strength, her purpose, and her voice.
“This ethos has been cultivated by a strong community that values integrity and authenticity. This culture empowers each girl to be herself, to use her voice while upholding the values of honor, respect, curiosity, individuality, and relationships in Chattanooga and the world beyond. These pillars create a scaffolding that shapes a community to celebrate her individual gifts and talents. Within this community, she can find her place through the deep bonds of sisterhood shared throughout generations of women who treasure and value the GPS experience.”
She concluded, referencing the theme of the year. “This year, we will bridge our past with our present as we partner to provide a fulfilling experience for our girls in a place they can always call home.”
A Special Presentation
To cement Cover’s status as the newly installed Head of School, a representative from each grade was selected to present Cover with a different flower, each symbolizing a different quality she possesses. Representatives included Olivia Burns ’22, Anabel Wilson ’23, Holly Beale 24, Eliana Tabibiazar ’25, Ella Wiley ’26, Eva Armstrong ’27, and Londyn Busby ’28.
Associate Head of School and Head of Upper School Lynne Macziewski closed the ceremony with a benediction, and the crowd sang the “Alma Mater” and “GPS We Love, Extol Thee” before exiting to the DeFoor Patio for a reception.
To watch a recording of the ceremony, click here