The Character of Home®

While some aspects of a Webb education have evolved through the years, the foundations and traditions upon which the school was built have held firm and bind generations of students.

Sharing your story about experiences as a Webb student is a way of awakening memories that for some could be decades old and for others as fresh as recent years. Whatever decade you attended, you have a story, and we’d like to hear it! We’d also like to share it on the website and in future magazines.

Showcasing these stories will be an amazing addition of the 150th Anniversary. Please "Share Your Story" using the form on this page. We’re kicking off this special year with excerpts from the stories of five alumni – Gwen Owen ’75, Paul Jennings ’82, Ben Blakeley ’93 and Kaleb and Sarada Tilton, both ’12.

Sit back and enjoy how they rekindled their memories of The Webb School. Then start thinking about yours!

Gwen Owen '75

Years attended Webb:
Hometown when attended Webb:
Nashville, Tenn.

Why did you choose to attend Webb?

My father, Gary Jones, was president (headmaster) of Webb from 1973-1978. He previously was a Presbyterian minister in Nashville, and Webb Follin Jr. was a member of that church. They were best friends, and he was determined to have my father lead Webb. I really had no other choice but to attend Webb, because my parents were moving to Bell Buckle.

Who were some of your Webb mentors, and how were they helpful?

Dorothy Elkins was my father’s secretary, and she was always a kind soul and had a presence. Judy Doss, dining hall manager, was such a lovely, gracious woman and took me under her wing. Glenn Holliman, Luke Boyd, Clement Cook and Sandy Truitt were all wonderful teachers, and there were others. They pushed me to do things I never thought I could do – to achieve beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving.

What are 3-4 of your most memorable events/times as a Webb student?

My first declamation was a memorable event. I was shy and my knees were knocking. The boys on the front row were ready to catch me, because they thought my knees were going to lock and I was going to fall off the stage. I am very comfortable with public speaking now, thanks to my Webb experience. Being a prefect is also a vivid memory. Unfortunately, we had to deal with some discipline issues that were difficult. It’s hard to be a judge of your peers, but we had a strong prefect council. We dealt with the issues, but it was not easy. Reading points are also memorable. That requirement taught me how to be organized and read all my class reading assignments as well as the books for reading points. That was a real gift.

What are some of your favorite times at Webb outside of the classroom?

Jan Gardner '74 and I were water girls for the boys’ soccer team, and that was hysterical. In theater they needed some girls, so I was in a couple of plays. That wasn’t my thing – totally out of the box – but they were fun.

What are some of the ways Webb impacted you as a student?

Webb challenged me like I had never been challenged before. I learned that I had more potential than I ever thought I had. I also learned how to be friends with and work with the boys who were students. I learned not to be intimidated. That was very helpful in the corporate world working for FedEx.

What does Webb mean to you today?

Attending Webb was transformational for me. I’ve enjoyed serving on the board of trustees and trying to give back some of what I received from Webb.

What advice do you have for today’s Webb students?

I’d tell students today to enjoy the experience, enjoy learning, get to know your teachers and work hard.

What are you doing now?

I’m a community volunteer serving on boards and trying to make Memphis a better place. I also continue to be a lifelong learner — something I learned from Webb.

Gwen is married to Penn Owen, and she has a daughter, Elizabeth.

Paul Jennings '82

Years attended Webb: 1977-1982
Hometown when attended Webb: Christiana, Tenn.
Relatives who attended Webb: Sister, Stephanie Jennings Edwards ’85,
an attorney in Nashville

Why did you choose to attend Webb?

We had lived in Nashville and then moved to Christiana to a farm where my father had grown up. I attended Central Middle School for 7th and 8th grade. My parents and I decided that a smaller school with a very academic curriculum would be best for me so I started at Webb in 9th grade. There were several Murfreesboro people who came to Webb in 9th grade that year -- Jessica Delbridge -- now Woosley, Colin Monk, Robin Bishop and Ellen Huddleston.

Who were some of your Webb mentors, and how were they helpful?

There were some awesome mentors/teachers while I was there. They are the names that you hear from so many Webb students: L.R. Smith, Imre Lagler and Sandy Truitt. These were teachers who really cared about the students, went the extra mile and were positive. Their commitment to the school and its students, as evidenced by their tenures, is amazing. The enthusiasm for teaching and positivity that they showed (and Mr. Smith and Mrs. Truitt still show) were awesome.

What are 3-4 of your most memorable events/times as a Webb student?

Some of my most memorable times at Webb, both good and bad, in and out of the classroom include:

- The anticipation of having Jackson Heffner (headmaster) say “you may have the day” and singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” at the top of our lungs.

- The first declamation – getting nervous and having to rely on my prompter way too many times. That experience probably helped me  be better prepared for the subsequent declamations and, frankly, even to this day, be prepared for a hearing in court.

- Basketball games in the old, tiny gym with the flying Converse logo on the wall. By the way, when is the school going to revive that logo and sell some merchandise with that logo?

-Really fun times with Will Shelton bird hunting. We then went on to share a house for part of college and remain great friends to this day.

- As a freshman when the cross-country coach thought having the team run to Shelbyville, including along Highway 231, was a good idea. I don’t think anyone other than Robert Willis, who was a great runner, actually made it all the way to Shelbyville. The coach wound up having to pick up the rest of us.

-Being on crutches in January when there was 6-8 inches of snow on the ground -- the school never closed for snow then -- and being the target of thousands of snowballs, actually iceballs, with no way to run.

-The informal “touch” football game one Fall Sunday afternoon between the boarding students and the day students.

-The college trip on charter buses to visit schools in North Carolina and Virginia.

What are some of the ways Webb impacted you as a student?

Webb really taught me how to learn, how to take meaningful notes, how to use time wisely. I was a pretty good student already, but Webb added those things that I still use today. Webb clearly helped prepare me for college and even law school, but

I frankly had very little appreciation for that at the time and even for years after. Today, I look back and appreciate those things.

What does Webb mean to you today?

I’ve certainly had the pleasure of being a part of the school’s growth and the transformation of the campus. It is really important to me because I know the long-lasting benefits – both academically and ethically - that the school leaves on lots of kids. It is really cool to see that continue.

What advice do you have for today’s Webb students?

I would tell today’s students to take advantage of all that Webb has to offer. Obviously, the school has the strongest of academics. If the students engage in the classroom work, they will see benefits for years to come no matter whether it is in school, work or being a parent. But I would also tell students to take advantage of extracurricular activities that are new and take them to new places. I’d tell them that it’s the time in your life to do and see – that becomes more difficult to do as you grow older. I’d tell them that Webb is a time in your life to explore those new activities and places so do it. Don’t hold back!

What are you doing now?

I am partner at Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, which has a long relationship with Webb. We have two retired partners who attended Webb -- Wilson Sims Sr. class of 1942, and Bob Thompson, class of 1965 -- both of whom have been board members and longstanding supporters of the school. They are two guys that I have immense respect for and am thankful for the things that they have done for Bass, Berry & Sims and The Webb School. I have practiced law at Bass, Berry for 29 years since I got out of law school. I have been married to my awesome wife, Lisa, for 28 years, and we have two daughters who both went to Oak Hill School and Harpeth Hall in Nashville and then on to Auburn University. Abbie is 24 and teaches second grade at a charter school in Nashville, and Maggie is a senior at Auburn majoring in speech therapy. In my spare time, I play a mediocre game of golf and enjoy our cabin on Monteagle mountain.

Ben Blakeley '93

Ben Blakeley Photo

Years attended Webb: BOARDER 1987-1993
Hometown when attended Webb: Brentwood, Tenn.

Why did you choose to attend Webb?

I was 12 years old at the time so I’m not sure I had much say in the matter! I would fall more into the category of “Webb was chosen for me”. Attending boarding school had been a tradition in my family, and attending Webb allowed me to be closer to our home in Brentwood, Tenn. Interestingly, we were not aware of Webb until we saw a small billboard ad in the Nashville airport when returning from vacation. It was a quick courtship - I toured Webb the next Tuesday and ultimately enrolled the following week!

Who were some of your Webb mentors, and how were they helpful?

Far too many to name and what would probably be a whole interview by itself. There were so many that have left long- lasting impacts. I’m also very fortunate that many of my former teachers are still at Webb. It’s great to still have that powerful connection to Webb through them as they have all made such an incredible commitment

to Webb and its students over the years. Imre Lagler was such an amazing person. I’ve always been fascinated by U.S. and European history, so I was very fortunate to have L.R. Smith and Ralph Jones as teachers. The time I spent in their classroom was very influential in my decision to major in history in college. Madame Smith, my longtime advisor and surrogate mother, who was always a positive and encouraging force during my time at Webb. I think that is what’s so great about Webb, students have an environment where they can connect with their teachers on different levels and form meaningful relationships beyond the classroom.

What are 3-4 of your most memorable events/times as a Webb student?

My best memories inside and outside of the classroom:

--Senior Survival – It was such a fitting, physical, emotional culmination of the six years I spent at Webb experience.

--Meeting people from all over the world. I had roommates from four different countries in six years. I currently work for a German bank advising foreign investors on U.S. commercial real estate investments. I think my interest in this field is largely an outgrowth of my time at Webb being exposed to students from other countries and cultures.

--Anytime the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” began on the piano, we’d really sing loudly. A couple of times we got off (“You may have the day”).

--Dorm life, the brotherhood and all the great times spent with classmates, friends and peers.

What are some of the ways Webb impacted you as a student?

I’ve always felt Webb provided me with such a great foundation. Prior to Webb, I was generally a good student with the skills to do well, but not necessarily all the tools. At Webb, the added focus on writing, critical thinking, personal accountability and integrity had the most lasting impact.

What does Webb mean to you today?

It always feels like home because of the time I spent there and the people I got to know. I am incredibly encouraged by all the great things I see occurring at Webb today. I’m so impressed with the caliber of students, and I love reading about what they’re doing.

What advice do you have for today’s Webb students?

Give meaning to your life and make an impact on others.

What are you doing now?

I live in Atlanta, Ga., with my wife Rachel and two kids, Meg (18) and William (12). I work in the commercial real estate field for Metzler Realty Advisors, a subsidiary of a private bank based in Frankfurt, Germany. Our company provides investment and asset management services to foreign institutional investors

Kaleb '12 and Sarada Tilton '12

Kaleb and Sarada Tilton

Years attended Webb: 2010-2012
Hometown when attended Webb: McMinnville, Tenn.
Relatives who attended Webb: Brother, Nick Tilton '15

Years attended Webb: 2008-2012
Hometown when attended Webb: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Relatives who attended Webb: Sister, Jhansi Kolli '17

Why did you choose to attend Webb?

Kaleb – I decided to attend Webb my junior year of high school. I needed a school that would challenge me in all aspects – academically, socially and athletically. After attending a couple of Visitors' Days and practicing with the basketball team, I knew I wanted to transfer.

Sarada – There was no real “decision.” When I was choosing what high school to attend, I decided on Webb because that’s where a lot of my friends decided to go.

Who were some of your Webb mentors, and how were they helpful?

Kaleb – Mr. Jonathan Newman and Coach Jeff Mitchell. Mr. Newman taught me how to think critically and develop my own opinions and writing style. Coach Mitchell was not only a great coach, but great friend. He was there for me through multiple adversities during my time at Webb.

Sarada – Doña (Kristen) Linton '00, Dr. (Leone) Broadhead and Mr.
(Ralph) Jones. While I was a student, Dr. Broadhead and Mr. Ralph Jones pushed me to excel academically and pursue my passions – and they were a reason why I studied biology and history in college. Doña was always one of my favorite teachers while I was at Webb. She always looked out for me, including my first day at Webb when she walked me to the correct Spanish class! I consider her not only a mentor but a good friend.

What are 3-4 of your most memorable events/times as a Webb student?

Kaleb – First date with my future wife was stargazing on the soccer field, painting my chest and wearing capes to Webb’s first football game with Baylor Bishop, Jason Bartlett and Will Huddleston and going to Italy with the SBXI crew. In the classroom: Making a 4 on the AP Modern Euro exam and doing better than Sarada. My first mea culpa to get into class after arriving late. Listening to all the class discussions throughout my English classes at Webb – I didn’t have any experience in debating and discussing ideas like that before Webb.

Sarada – Leaf fight freshman year with Blake Cocanougher, Ryan Pryor and Pearson Lien, meeting my future husband, going to Scotland for the Fringe Festival. In the classroom: Making a 100 on an L.R. Smith AP Modern Euro test. Counting what felt like 1 billion fruit flies during a biology lab. Acting in “The Rivals” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Outside the classroom: We both enjoyed Senior Survival as well.

What are some of the ways Webb impacted you as a student?

Kaleb – Webb taught me how to be a successful student both inside and outside the classroom. I was able to graduate with my undergrad from University of Tennessee – Chattanooga in three years and get my Masters from the University of Michigan the following year. Webb set me up to be able to achieve my undergrad so quickly, and I was more prepared than my peers.

Sarada – Webb taught me how to study and manage my time wisely. It also taught me to pursue what my passions were both inside and outside the classroom. I was able to graduate from Emory with a major and minor and eventually get my Masters from the University of Florida, and Webb set me up for success.

What does Webb mean to you today?

Kaleb – The school has meant a lot to me since my family and I decided that I would be going to Webb. It brought me my wife and some of my best friends. The school opened my mind to new possibilities and ideas, and I am forever grateful for my time at Webb. I now try to serve the school and our current students by being a part of the Alumni Board.

Sarada – Webb has been a constant in my life since freshman year of high school. The school introduced me to my husband and some of my best friends. I feel like we are at the school at least once a month, volunteering, watching games, or attending other events. It is definitely a constant in our lives!

What advice do you have for today’s Webb students?

Kaleb – Embrace Webb and all it has to offer. Enjoy the challenges of each day, make friends, and take time to have some fun!

Sarada – Make relationships with your teachers, they will be your biggest supporters both while you are a student and an alumnus.

What are you doing now?

We are planning a move to Memphis this summer as Sarada just got into medical school at UT Health Science Center. Kaleb is a CPA at Elliott Davis, LLC providing auditing and consulting services for investment companies, not for profits and manufacturing clients.

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Did you ever hear the headmaster say
“You may have the day”?

Did you play football in the dell?

Can you recall trapping?
Do you remember Miss Jeanne’s picnic?

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