Our Head of School
Colley W. Bell III
Colley W. Bell III joined St. Margaret's School as its 13th Head of School, bringing over thirty years of independent school experience to the shores of the Rappahannock. As a history teacher and head of school, Mr. Bell approaches the days, months, and years before him with an incredible optimism for St. Margaret's School's future. Prospective students and families will find a school devoted to Episcopal tenets and the overarching dedication to a holistic educational experience utilizing the river across academic and recreational programs. Mr. Bell has brought computer coding, engineering through our robotics and science classes, along with a new digital production program. Folding proven pedagogies with emerging technical competencies will have SMS girls moving from theoretical to purposeful practices.
Mr. Bell considers himself first and foremost a learner and teacher. It began while growing up in a girl's Episcopal boarding school where his father was the headmaster and his mother the provost and dean of students. As a graduate of an Episcopal boarding school, he points to the spiritual interconnectedness in the Episcopal tradition that brings form and function to the lives of all. Mr. Bell's familiarity with St. Margaret's stretches back decades, and his parents often talked fondly of the "grand school on the river."
After attending a boys Episcopal boarding school, Bell studied Russian history at the University of Kentucky. His first position with the Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, was as a teacher, dorm parent, and soccer and lacrosse coach. He then went on to teach, coach, and serve as Dean of Students at Worcester Academy (MA); Louisville Collegiate (KY); Lake Forest Academy (IL); and served as Assistant Head of School at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, DE. He then served as head of school at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Middleburg Academy.
He holds a master's degree from the prestigious Klingenstein Center at Columbia University and has a known passion for Civil War, Russian and English history. He studied the history of the Anglican Church at Keble College at Oxford. Conversations with Mr. Bell often lead to historical topics, whether curiosity about his new home in the McCall-Brockenborough House – or his own family's fascinating past.
Colley and his wife Edwina, Director of Development and Alumnae Affairs, are often found on campus, tending to projects in much the same manner as were his parents. In the first weeks of his tenure, his team has populated the riverfront with motorboats, sailboats, and crew shells. He envisions a River Program that will include a STEAM-based curriculum that will inspire our girls to new heights of experiences and achievements.
As Mr. Bell shared, "I want for the daughters of St. Margaret's an experience of a century. The school's heritage informs us of an ambitious education folded within a tight-knit community where grace and humility are cherished. In short, we abide by our motto, as we grow in age, may we grow in grace."