Colley W. Bell III takes the helm this week as St. Margaret’s School’s 13th Head of School. Situated on the beautiful Rappahannock River, St. Margaret’s is an Episcopal all-girls boarding and day school for grades 8-12. Bell begins his tenure with a new initiative focused on a “Return to the River” with academic and character education that utilizes St. Margaret’s idyllic natural surroundings. His plans include STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education, a competitive rowing program, and environmental studies, all connected to the Rappahannock.

The new initiative comes at an important time in the school’s history as it celebrates its Centennial this year. Building upon the strong foundation of St. Margaret’s first 100 years, the next chapter will expand the school’s reputation as a place where girls are challenged academically, physically, and spiritually.

“As a young boy, I visited St. Margaret’s School for what would be my first school dance and remembered the community as a welcoming and formidable place for the girls,” said Bell. “It’s an honor to return to campus and lead a school with such rich history, Episcopal tradition, and enormous potential as we begin the next 100 years on the Rappahannock.”   

Bell has a B.A. from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree from Columbia University. He studied at Keble College, Oxford. He has more than three decades of experience with independent schools serving as a head of school, administrator, teacher, dorm parent, and coach at independent schools in Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. Bell and his wife Edwina will reside on campus in the historic Brockenbrough-McCall House that allows for daily interaction with students, faculty, and members of the Tappahannock community.

 Bell invites alumni and friends of the school to get in touch and “Return to the River” by emailing