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Letters from Steve Piltch

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May (05/30/2015)

Steve looks back on the end-of-school events and shares his joy and pride for the accomplishments of all the Shipley students. As the academic year comes to an end, Steve talks about the slower pace of summer as a time to spend with friends and family. Read the letter.

April (04/29/2015)

Steve reflects on the opportunity to hear Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak at Bryn Mawr College and describes her speech as "truly awe-inspiring." He also shares the story of a Shipley fourth grader's chance to meet Justice Sotomayor. Read the letter.

March (03/30/2015)

Steve discusses the impact of the recent tragic loss of eighth grader Cayman Naib on the community and shares some strategies for helping our children and students cope with the loss. He also discusses the impact of the Shipley fifth grade Think Care Act project, with a particular focus on the Mito 5 Challenge, which the student organizers have taken school-wide. Read the letter.

February (02/25/2015)

Steve reflects on the legacy of Bob Callahan, the long-time head men's squash coach at Princeton, and the importance that relationships play in our students’ lives. Read the letter.

January (01/30/2015)

Steve Piltch discusses the recent allegations of ball deflating in the NFL and the importance of integrity in sports and life. “It is important for us to make sure that our children/students know our moral/ethical code, our expectations of them, and see that our actions are consistent with our espoused philosophy. Otherwise, they will let us know through what they say and what they do that we are being hypocritical. Most importantly, we must remember that character is what we do when others are not watching.” Read the letter.

December (12/19/2014)

Steve focuses on the implications of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, and how Shipley and the world can come together to tackle the prevalent issues of discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance. “While we, as educators and parents, might find it easier to ignore the issues (with the hope that they will go away), Shipley’s mission, one that revolves around compassionate participation in the world and concern for others, makes it incumbent on us to deal with them.” Read the letter.

November (11/25/2014)

Steve reflects on the messages of three recent visitors to campus, as well as on what we parents and educators must do to help our children and students achieve their goals, both individually and together. Read the letter.

October (10/29/2014)

Steve discusses the importance of balance in our lives and in the lives of our students. How can we be our best and healthiest selves while pursuing excellence? “If we can schedule ourselves less and make more time for ourselves (and our families), we may well find that we do everything better and are happier,” says Steve. Read more.

September (09/30/2014)

Steve reflects on a recent trip to San Francisco with his daughter. He says,  "I hope that as we teach our students to strive for excellence, we can help them develop the balance in their lives necessary to live confidently and creatively, to welcome others into their worlds, and to appreciate the world they know (and don’t know). If we all find ways to create constructive time for ourselves, we can help our children do the same." Read the letter.

August 2014 (08/28/2014)

Steve discusses the violence in the Middle East, the tragic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the ALS Bucket Challenge, and the Little League World Series and what life lessons we and our students can learn from them. Read the letter.

Shipley's Concussion Prevention Efforts (08/04/2014)

Steve discusses Shipley's ongoing efforts to protect the safety of our students and deal with the challenges of the impact of concussions in their lives. New developments over the summer include the decision to use Triax impact sensors in Upper School contact sports, a partnership with the Sports Legacy Institute and their Hit Count Program, and participation in a study conducted by the University of Delaware and Children’s Hospital to help improve the safety of children. Read the letter.

May (05/30/2014)

Steve discusses the importance of four end-of-year events: the kindergarten knighting process, the second grade Desert Zoo project, the third grade trip to Ellis Island, and the spring Shakespeare performance. He says, “Everything we do revolves around the growth and development of our students: their transformation from little acorns to mighty oaks. The ability to appreciate them as individuals and to challenge them and support them (as well as provide opportunities to them) enables them to take risks, become more confident, develop their creativity, and find success. At the heart of that success is deeply rooted learning they possess for rest of their lives.” Read the letter.

Shipley's concerns about "Heading" in Middle School soccer

Steve shares compelling concerns about the incidence of concussions as a result of heading the ball in soccer. In an effort to reduce the occurrence of concussions, and train young athletes in the proper technique for heading the ball, Shipley will introduce a no heading policy for Middle School soccer games beginning in the fall of 2014. Read the letter.

April (04/30/2014)

Steve Piltch shares his thoughts on the recent headlines about a drug ring allegedly run by local students. Though some people would like to believe that such a thing could never happen at their school or to their children, he says, such a situation could happen anywhere. “We must commit ourselves to learning more, doing more, and believing that by working together we can make a difference.” Read the letter.

March (03/21/2014)

Steve reflects on the joys and challenges of parenting – and how parents and the school can work together for the benefit of our children and students. Read the letter.

February (02/25/2014)

Steve reflects on a recent evening spent waiting in 30th Street Station. As someone not fond of waiting around, he found the experience uncomfortable yet expansive. “My experience helped me recognize just how important it is for us as educators and parents to pursue the types of challenging experiences we encourage our students to seek. The willingness to take on our own risks and to learn to be comfortable in places of discomfort better enables us to understand what our students/children are going through when we ask them to take risks.” Read the letter.

January (01/31/2014)

Steve discusses Shipley’s commitment to teaching emotional intelligence. “Our ability to understand the challenges of a situation and our resourcefulness in the most difficult of contexts [allows] us to overcome the challenges we face… In order to learn, and grow, and reach our potential as individuals or groups, we have to be willing to consider different perspectives and frameworks.” Emotional intelligence doesn’t just help students (and all people) become better people, they have more academic success, and the potential to become better leaders. Read the letter.

December (12/20/2013)

Steve reflects on Nelson Mandela’s legacy of fighting intolerance and working towards a just and harmonious world. Read the letter.


November (11/20/2013)

Steve discusses the meaning and origin of Thanksgiving, JFK, Civil Rights, Shipley's commitment to helping students grow and encouraging their compassionate participation in the world, and the recent third grade play "Turkeys Go on Strike." Read the letter.

October (10/30/2013)

Steve talks about a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and Boston for alumni events. Despite their range of ages and experiences, Steve found that the alumni he encountered shared a common, positive regard for Shipley and felt well prepared for college and life beyond Shipley. Read the letter.

September (09/30/2013)

What does Superman have to do with a Shipley education? "As we work with our students, we believe strongly that helping them develop a strong sense of self, of purpose, and of others is essential. We want to encourage them to take positions of leadership to develop the skills that will equip them to be leaders in the world. If they can learn to do well and to do good and develop both passion and compassion, they will find a way to make a difference both in their lives and the world." Read more.

August (08/23/2013)

Steve welcomes back families for the 2013-2014 school year and reflects on what educators and parents want for their students and children. "While we want our children to set high goals and to achieve them, we know that it is not individual accomplishments or happiness in the moment that leads to a fulfilling life in the long term. Instead, it is the drive, determination, grit, and resilience they develop in pursuit of the goals that allow for their long-term health, greater happiness, and a deeper and fuller sense of success." Read the letter.

May (05/30/2013)

"As I formally congratulate the members of the Class of 2013 and their parents, families, and friends, I invite everyone in the community to reflect on where you and your families are and where we are as a school. And, as we celebrate the growth, achievement, and accomplishment of those closest to us, I urge us to develop the plans to continue to grow and to learn." Read the letter.

April (04/26/2013)

Steve reflects on the recent tragedy in Boston, how parents and educators can help children deal with it, and Shipley's response. Read the letter.

March (03/22/2013)

"Children reap the benefit of having parents who are involved and families that are close. Interestingly, recent research has suggested that 'the single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: developing a strong family narrative.' This is according to Bruce Feiler, who wrote "The Story that Binds Us," which appeared in the March 17 edition of the New York Times." Read more.

February (02/27/2013)

"Have you ever attended an event, read a book, or heard a speaker who changed the way you looked at a situation? For me, and I suspect for many others in this community, that is what happened when I attended our MAP (Multicultural Awareness Program) Day event on February 3..." Read the letter.

January (01/23/2013)

"Parenting may be the most complicated job in the world for which there is no real training, and no matter how well one does it and/or how fabulous one’s children might be, there will always be moments of angst and frustration far beyond one’s ability." Read the letter.

December (12/18/2012)

Steve shares his preliminary thoughts on the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. “Even as our hearts break for those in Newtown, we must appreciate those around us and cherish time with our children, our spouses, family, and friends, and work together to meet whatever challenges we face. I think President Obama said it well on Sunday night, noting how Newtown has inspired us: ‘In the face of unconscionable evil, you looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another.’ We need to do the same.” Read the letter.

November (11/19/2012)

Steve reflects on recent events, including Hurricane Sandy and the election. Read the letter.

October (10/12/2012)

"Unlike at Shipley, where the journey is of the essence and success is achieved before it is acclaimed, in politics the race to win appears to be the sole focus. We seem to have lost sight of what the candidates truly stand for from a policy perspective." Read more about Steve's thoughts on the upcoming presidential election and other topics.

September (9/11/2012)

"Having observed generations of students and my own children over time, I’ve come to realize that the given performance, however important and disappointing or fulfilling in the moment, is just a snapshot. It is the passion, time, work, resilience, and development leading up to the performance that tell the story." Read the letter.

May (5/30/2012)

Steve reflects on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the importance of making a difference in the world. Read the letter.

April (4/30/2012)

Steve reflects on what it takes to make a person achieve true excellence in a given area. Read the letter.

March (3/22/2012)

Steve talks about attaining happiness, the distinction between extrinsic achievement and intrinsic satisfaction, and the importance of helping our children and students develop both. Read the letter.

February (2/24/2012)

Steve discusses Shipley’s approach to the college process and his own experiences with his children’s search for the right college. Read the letter.

January (1/23/2012)

Steve discusses Martin Luther King, Jr., the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, and the impact of figures such as John F. Kennedy and his brother, Bobby. Read the letter.

December 12/20/2011

Steve talks about the importance of self reflection and its benefits in many areas of life. He also talks about some of the lessons he learned during a recent visit to Shipley from Derrick Gay, a consultant and speaker on diversity. These and other lessons, says Steve, underscore the importance of the character education and emotional intelligence work being done at Shipley. Read the letter.

November (11/21/2011)

Steve reflects on the recent Penn State scandal and explores the ideas of personal integrity and responsibility. Read the letter.

October (10/26/2011)

In his October, 2011 letter, Steve discusses the topic of favoritism of parent's favoritism of some of their children over others. Read the letter.

September (9/26/2011)

Steve discusses Paul Tough's recent New York Times Magazine article, "What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?" and the importance of children and students learning personal skills in addition to academic ones. Read the letter.

May (5/24/2011)

Steve compares the development of our students to the realization of Shipley's Upper Campus master plan construction project. Read the letter.

April (4/25/2011)

Steve discusses Shipley’s goal of creating better and more integrated and interdisciplinary courses with differentiated instruction and the focus on developing both intellectual intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) in each of our students. Read the letter.

March (3/15/2011)

Steve reflects on his recent trip to Oxford and the unique education offered to students at the 38 colleges there. Read the letter.

February (2/15/2011)

The subject of concussions in professional sports has been widely covered in the media this year. In this letter, Steve talks about the upsurge in concussions among school age children and the long- and short-term impacts on their health. Read more.

January (1/13/2011)

Steve discusses the recent tragic shooting in Tuscon and echoes President Obama's message calling for mutual respect and understanding among conflicting groups. Read the letter.

December (12/15/2010)

Steve reflects on what it takes to be a good leader and achieve success in one's life. He shares recommendations for good books on the subject, as well as some of the opportunities Shipley provides its students to develop leadership skills and qualities. Read the letter.

November (11/19/2010)

Steve discusses the recent tragic death of one of Shipley's fifth grade students, its impact on the Shipley community, and strategies to help people deal with the challenges of the loss. Read the letter.

October (10/13/2011)

Steve discusses the importance of focusing on the emotional and psychological well-being of our students, as well as their accomplishments. He also shares information about upcoming Shipley-sponsored programs to educate students, parents, and faculty about how to cope with some of the challenges of adolescence. Read the letter.

September (9/21/2010)

Steve identifies the biggest change in curriculum and education amid all the discussion associated with 21st-century learning: Technology – with all of its benefits and challenges. He discusses how Shipley is reinforcing the need for the same sense of personal responsibility and respect in the virtual community as we expect in the real community. Read the letter.

August (8/19/2010)

Steve reflects on his recent family vacation to Spain and a visit to modernist architect Antoni Gaudí’s famed La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. He draws parallels between Shipley and the currently unfinished Sagrada Familia – though both have evolved under the guidance of different people over time, the original essence of each remains unchanged. Read the letter.

August (8/5/2010)

Steve reminds families of Shipley's mission before the start of the School's 117th academic year. He also reviews the ways in which Shipley communicates with families and some of the ways in which families can be a part of the life of the School.

Steve Piltch,  Head of School

Steve Reads

Steve Reads is a collection of books recommended by Steve Piltch in his monthly Letters from the Head of School.

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