Educational Excellence Since 1912
Hamden Hall Country Day School
Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

2012 Alumna Assists Students Through Leadership Admissions Role

Class of 2012 alumna and Salutatorian Jill Gardiner has found her calling to help and educate students on the intellectual experiences through the combination of academics and exploring the natural world as she serves as part of the leadership team as the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at High Mountain Institute (HMI) in Colorado.

High Mountain Institute is a non-profit semester school that allows students the opportunity to engage in traditional Honors and AP academic classes. Students take the hands-on learning outside of the classroom into the natural world where they spend time backpacking and skiing through the mountains of Colorado, and hiking through the canyons of Utah with their teachers and classmates.

As the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Jill’s overall responsibilities are dependent on the season. During the fall and winter months, she travels around the country talking to students, schools, and families about the High Mountain Institute. One specific travel day can include a presentation forum where she discusses the Semester Program to a class of sophomores in Baltimore or working with her Gap Admissions Associate on a tricky international financial aid application.

As March approaches, Jill works on building out the new classes for the semester and summer programs, which involves reading applications, essays, processing transcripts, and making a few beautifully complex spreadsheets.  In the midst of the spring season, she works with the newly admitted students and their parents/guardians to answer questions about the trips, curriculum guide, and other outliers. The summer months include on-site visits to campus and, most importantly, strategic planning for the next admissions travel season.

As she assumed her role in 2021, Jill noted that the best part of her job is working with the students and being able to interact with different communities while on the road.

“The best days on the road involve presenting at school with our alumni as I get to hear about all of the incredible things they're doing and having the opportunity to listen to an alum in real-time talk to a prospective student about their decision to challenge themselves in new ways,” said Jill. “I highly find joy in going into the field on a backpacking trip with students and being able to support a student as they gain confidence in their leadership skills. I feel so lucky to not only be surrounded by a community, but a community I trust.”

As the students move through the program, Jill emphasized the importance of community and how the shared experiences unite both students and the staff. She emphasized how she thinks about the community on micro and macro scales, the impact of having common language around giving and receiving feedback, the importance of creating shared experiences, and the value in supporting others pushing their comfort zones.

During her time at Hamden Hall, Jill was active in many campus activities and clubs including the Girls’ Varsity Field Hockey, the Outdoors Clubs, Thespian Society, and Advent. Reflecting on those years, she stated that most of her favorite memories happened in the Taylor Performing Arts Center, particularly the tech booth. She happily recalled calling a show and helping students run their lines as Mr. Alexander would laugh along with them. She fondly added that Upper School math teacher Judy Bratt would get her attention by yelling “ruler” in class. Her fellow 2012 classmate Sylvana Lewin became a dear friend as she would be invited over to her house following new student orientation so she would know a familiar face as she began Middle School.

Following graduation from Hamden Hall, Jill attended Skidmore College for two years before transferring to Boston University where she graduated in 2018 with a degree in economics. She currently lives in Leadville, Colo., and said she thoroughly relishes mountain life.

Outside of work, Jill enjoys spending time outdoors, specifically taking her dog Arlo on walks, trail running, skiing, and camping with friends. Additionally, she is on the board of Lake County Build a Generation, a local non-profit that aims to help build a healthier community for all residents.

“It was incredibly important for me to find ways to be involved with the greater community,” said Jill. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve on the LCBAG board and for the opportunity to support Lake County as it continues to grow as a healthier and happier place to live.

Hamden Hall Country Day School

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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.