Stephanie Perrin


For twenty-five years Stephanie Perrin was the Head of Walnut Hill School, an international boarding high school for the arts. She is now a consultant focusing on arts education and organizational and board development in schools and other organizations. She has an A.B. in Art History from Boston University, two graduate degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. She began her career as a teacher of art history, studio arts and counseling at Abbot and Phillips Academies in Andover, MA. She came to Walnut Hill as Academic Dean, a position she held for five years before becoming Head in 1984.

In her time at Walnut Hill the School became one of the premier schools for the training of young artists in the world. Twenty percent of the student body comes from overseas, the rest from forty-seven states.  She oversaw substantial growth in the endowment, the creation of facilities to support the School's mission and the growth of the School from 210 to 300 students by 2008. All students at Walnut Hill major in one of five disciplines - dance, theater, music, visual arts or creative writing - as well as engaging in a full college preparatory academic program. In 1985 Walnut Hill and the New England Conservatory of Music formed a joint program for the training of young musicians, the New England Conservatory at Walnut Hill School. It remains the only formal collaboration of its kind between a high school and a conservatory in the United States. The School also supports partnerships with schools from other countries such as the Central Academy for the Arts in Beijing, China. Walnut Hill graduates go on to some of the most prestigious colleges, arts schools, conservatories and dance companies in the United States and abroad.

In 1998, Ms. Perrin co-founded, with Eric Oddleifson, the National Arts and Learning Collaborative – now called Arts/Learning - an organization that includes Lesley College, Walnut Hill School and a number of Boston public and private schools. It seeks to develop arts programming in public schools and includes teaching partnerships between greater Boston independent and public elementary schools as well as a teacher-training program utilizing the arts in the curriculum for public school teachers through Lesley University. It also serves as an advocate for arts and arts education. Walnut Hill has supported research on the impact of arts training on learning by functioning as a "lab school" for studies undertaken by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston College, Harvard’s Department of Psychology and Lesley University. The School has supported the work of the SPHINX program by hosting its summer program for young Black and Latino classical musicians.

Ms. Perrin writes and speaks frequently about arts education In 2002 she gave a presentation as part of the John Landrum Bryant Lecture Series at HGSE,  "Transfer or Transformation," about the impact of arts on learning in adolescence.  In 2008 Walnut Hill co-sponsored with HGSE and Senator Edward Kennedy a symposium in Washington D.C. on the importance of the arts and arts training in preparing young people to be productive citizens of the 21st century.  Her articles include "Art and the Psychological Development of Adolescents,” published in Independent School magazine.

She serves or has served on a number of boards including: the Massachusetts Board of Education Arts Advisory Council; the NETWORK of Schools of Visual and Performing Arts; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Boston Music Education Collaborative; Overseer of the New England Conservatory; Chairman of the Board and founding trustee of the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, a public elementary school focused on learning through music and including El Sistema as part of its educational program. She is also a board member of Community Musicworks in Providence, R.I. and of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). She has chaired accreditation teams for the Boston Arts Academy and Idyllwild School for the Arts, among others.

Stephanie Perrin will be a panelist at our October, 2012 symposium: Information, Space and Time: The Arts, Creativity and Learning in the 21st Century.