The Hockaday School is proud to announce that Dr. Laura Leathers was officially installed as Eugene McDermott Head of School on September 5, 2023, at a special Convocation and Installation ceremony held in Penson Athletic Center on the Hockaday campus.
Dr. Leathers was appointed as Interim Eugene McDermott Head of School in March 2022, and the Board of Trustees named her as permanent Eugene McDermott Head of School on December 1, 2022, following a national search. She is the 14th Head of School in Hockaday’s history.
“Today, we have paused to mark this time when we are all beginning a new and exciting chapter in Hockaday’s history together,” said Dr. Leathers at her Installation. "Together, we will build and preserve this community founded on the Four Cornerstones of Character, Courtesy, Scholarship, and Athletics.”
The ceremony featured student speakers Elizabeth Carter and Swara Rathod (Class of 2032); Caroline Hayes (Class of 2028); Ariana Wang (Class of 2024) and Zoe Stone (Class of 2024). Jimieka Oswald ’00 (President-Elect, Hockaday Alumnae Association) and Joni Palmer (Director of Special Programs, Independent Schools Association of the Southwest), also gave remarks.
Dr. Leathers was officially installed by A. Shonn Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees. Immediate Past Chair, Nicole Ginsberg Small ’91, said “Dr. Leathers’s intellect, warmth, strategic vision, and genuine care for each and every person on this campus are clearly evident – in the boardroom, in the classroom, on the sidelines, in the audience, and in the hallways, and we look forward to many years of her leadership and guidance.”
Dr. Leathers brings a strong background in STEM to the role, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and French from Lafayette College. She studied abroad at the Université de Grenoble and earned a Doctorate in Pharmacology from the University of Vermont. Her educational career reflects her passion for science culminating in her Ph.D. dissertation which examined the mechanisms that regulate blood vessel contractility and their relationship to various pathological states. Dr. Leathers also conducted postdoctoral research as a Fellow at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and earned an Education Specialist degree with a concentration in Administration and Supervision from Union University.
Before joining the Hockaday community, Dr. Leathers served in various roles over 13 years at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tennessee, an all-girls school serving students from age two through grade 12. She served as an AP Chemistry teacher, Science Department Chair, STEM Director, and Assistant Head of School during her tenure. In addition, she was the Assistant Varsity Cross Country Coach and led the Middle School Robotics Club. While at St. Mary’s, she was responsible for growing the independent study program and developing new course offerings, including electives in Introduction to Engineering and Solids Modeling and 3D Design. St. Mary’s honored Dr. Leathers with the Fannie Warr Service Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates a high degree of loyalty, unselfish service, and love for the school.