Obituary: Jaralyn L. Hough, 76

Hough was Head of School at The Barnseville School from 1984 to 2006.

The following obituary was submitted by The Barnesville School:

Jaralyn L. Hough, former Head of School of The Barnesville School, passed away Monday, Sept. 17 after a lengthy illness. She was 76. “Jeri” is survived by her husband, Hammet, and sons Eric and wife, Lois; Stuart and wife, Patricia; Philip and wife, Audra; and nine grandchildren.

Jeri served as Barnesville’s third Head of School from 1984 until her retirement in 2006. Under her extraordinary 22 years of leadership, the School grew in both physical space and enrollment. She oversaw two major capital campaigns during her tenure that added new learning spaces to the campus, including dedicated space for art, music, and science; new classrooms; a full-size gymnasium and performing arts center; and a media center. Her forward thinking led to the purchase of two adjacent properties, including 28 acres of farmland and 18 acres of forest and a residence, which now serves as the home for the current Head of School. In addition, Jeri led the School in 1993 through its first accreditation process with the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS).

Jeri possessed an unfailing commitment to the School, the students, the parents, and the faculty. She continuously sought new ways to improve the curriculum and believed strongly in interdisciplinary study. Under Jeri’s leadership, the students’ learning extended beyond the classroom. Field trips were frequent events underscoring Jeri’s belief that experience is a valuable educator. Use of the outdoors as a giant playground and classroom reinforced Jeri’s and the School’s commitment to combining learning with play. She also stressed the value of environmental conservation and initiated school-wide recycling programs early in her headship.

Of all her admirable personal qualities, including kindness, joy, humility, and wit, she will be best known for the strength of her spirit.  Her calm leadership guided the School through multiple challenges, including the difficult days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the Beltway sniper attacks the following year. “Jeri always made everyone feel safe and secure,” said Assistant Head of School Vickie Roos, who served under Jeri for 17 years. “As I think of Jeri, and who she was both as an administrator and as a human being, it was always about the kids.”

Head of School John Huber commented: “When I first met Jeri, I felt more than a little intimidated, both by the long shadow cast by her success at Barnesville and by her no-nonsense approach to discussing important issues. Yet as I came to know her in recent years, I saw that Jeri’s directness was borne out of her intense focus on helping children, first and foremost. I had the pleasure of working with her on AIMS accreditation assignments, and her drive and passion were incredible.

She could quickly get to the core of an issue, using as her touchstone the simple question, ‘Are we putting the child first?’.”

Upon her retirement in 2006, The Barnesville School Board of Trustees honored Jeri’s dedication to the continued education of her teachers with the establishment of the Jaralyn L. Hough Professional Development Fund. This fund has provided financial resources for dozens of faculty members to attend conferences and complete graduate coursework. At the dedication of the fund, the Board of Trustees called Jeri “a person of stature and poise,” saying that her “day-in, day-out leadership will leave an indelible legacy on our school.” Their statement continues: “We recognize your prescience concerning the need for professional development; your absolute respect for teachers who give their all each and every day and to children whose well-being and prospects have been your pre-occupation and passion for these many years.”

Jeri was also an active member of the professional community outside of The Barnesville School. After the death of her daughter in 2007, she and her husband, Hammet, established The Elizabeth Hough Van Winkle Foster Children’s Fund to continue Libby’s work with and devotion to foster children. She also served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the BlackRock Center of the Arts in Germantown. In addition, she continued to support independent school accreditation work through her consultation for AIMS, and she was meeting with heads of peer schools as recently as this past spring.

The Barnesville School extends its deepest condolences to the entire Hough family. Plans for a gathering celebrating Jeri’s life and work will be shared at a later time.


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