In 1910, Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, a teacher from
New York, moved to Maryland with a mission and a vision: to found a
much-needed primary through twelfth grade school for the local
community. The educational model she espoused remains a nationally
distinctive program nearly a century later.
Garrison Forest then was an
all-girls’ day school, Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade,
with a residential program for older girls and a coed primary program.
Today, the model remains nearly identical with the addition of a
vibrant international boarding program and two-year-olds as the
youngest Garrison Forest students. The motto Miss Livingston chose for
her burgeoning school, Esse
Quam Videri—To Be Rather Than To Seem, perfectly
captured her vision for a school steeped in academic rigor while
infused with exceptional character building.
founding, Garrison Forest School has redefined itself in response to
the challenges of the day. Miss Livingston grew her school in size and
reputation, and in 1929, she passed the mantle to Co-headmistresses
Jean G. Marshall and Nancy J. Offutt. Under their spirited and firmly
grounded leadership, the School not only survived the Great Depression,
it thrived, adding new students and attracting a top-caliber faculty.
For 30 years, Miss Marshall and Miss Offutt guided Garrison Forest,
building a national boarding reputation, excellent academic programs,
and a highly competitive riding program.
1960, the School hired its first male headmaster, Archibald
“Tad” Montgomery III, who expanded the residential
program, campus, and enduring tradition of community outreach. Garrison
Forest School’s Service
was founded by students in 1942 as a response to
helping on the home front. Decades earlier, students helped in the
local fields while farmers were fighting in World War I. Today, Service
League assists dozens of regional, national, and international agencies
and causes through student volunteerism.
“Larry” L. Hlavacek served as Headmaster from
1968-1978, shepherding the School through a difficult financial time,
played out against the challenging cultural backdrop of the 1970s. As
boarding school enrollments dipped nationwide and many girls’
schools shut their doors or merged with other institutions, Garrison
Forest held steady by returning to its founding model of educating boys
and girls at the preschool level. In 1950, to accommodate a growing
Upper School program, the School closed its primary department, but in
1975, the Valley School, a local, coed independent preschool and
elementary school merged with Garrison Forest. Today the Lower Division
serves girls and boys, Two-Year-Olds through Pre-First, and girls,
First through Fifth grades.
dawn of the 1980s, Garrison Forest appointed Agnes
“Aggie” C. Underwood as headmistress, and for nine
years, she led the School to a new level of academic excellence.
Garrison Forest’s reputation and enrollment grew through
achievements, such as the increased number of Advanced Placement
courses and faculty members with advanced degrees, enhanced student
diversity, a depth of arts programming, and Mrs. Underwood’s
leadership among national independent school organizations.
1989-90, Alexander A. Uhle served as Interim Head of School until Elsa
“Midge” M. Bowman began her four-year tenure. She
continued the School’s commitment to intellectual achievement
and ushered Garrison Forest onto the global stage with the advent of a
formal international boarding program in the early 1990s. Today, 20
percent of the students hail from countries beyond the United States,
creating a true global community.
current Head of School, G. Peter
, originally was hired for a one-year
appointment as Interim Head. Instead, he has become the third-longest
tenured head in Garrison Forest’s nearly 100-year history. A
strong national advocate for single-sex education for girls, he has led
the School’s largest campus expansion and the establishment
of one of the nation’s leading experiential learning programs
for girls: the Women In Science and
program, a one-of-a-kind academic
partnership with The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of
Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Krieger
School of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, the School founded The James Center:
Programs and Partnerships with a Public Purpose
, adding new
opportunities for civic and financial literacy and social
entrepreneurship to its existing programs for service and
Heads of Garrison Forest School
1910-1929 Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, founder
1929-1960 Jean G. Marshall
1929-1960 Nancy J. Offutt
1960-1968 Archibald R. Montgomery III
1968-1978 Lawrence L. Hlavacek
1978-1989 Agnes C. Underwood
1989-1990 Alexander A. Uhle
1990-1994 Elsa M. Bowman
G. Peter O’Neill, Jr.