March 19, 2021
Dear Shipley Community,
After an extensive national search, I am delighted to announce that Kris Ryan will be Shipley’s next Head of Upper School. A consummate teacher-leader, Kris brings broad and deep experience spanning two decades in independent schools as an upper and middle teacher, coach, advisor, dorm parent, equity and inclusion director, and upper school director.
Kris joins Shipley from The Stony Brook School, a boarding school in New York, where he currently serves as Director of Upper School. In this role, he oversees the day-to-day operation of the Upper School and is responsible for academic leadership and teacher evaluation as well as school and student culture. In this capacity, Kris observes, mentors, and assists teachers with matters ranging from pedagogy to classroom management. He directs learning support, student leadership, the advisory and assembly programs, as well as a student discipline system based on restorative justice.
Prior to his current post at Stony Brook, Kris taught, coached, and served in a variety of roles at Mercersburg Academy and Episcopal Academy. His work included curricular development, strategic planning, and founding an office of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kris earned a Bachelor of Arts in American History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Divinity with academic distinction from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kris’s education and vast experience have helped him hone a powerful educational philosophy and leadership skill set well suited to Shipley. He sees independent schools as learning communities in which students can be nurtured in their love for learning, develop critical thinking skills, and grow into leaders of their communities. For Kris, the foundation of this mission is healthy, open relationships among students and the adults in their lives, and he has dedicated his career not only to building those relationships himself but also to guide others to do the same.
Kris and his wife, Rachel Estrada Ryan, and their four children—Gabe, Jacob, Naomi, and Mary—are looking forward to returning to their Pennsylvania roots, and Kris is anxious to get started. In accepting this new role, he said: "I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the next Upper School Head at The Shipley School. It is truly an honor to be joining such a prestigious group of colleagues and to have the privilege of contributing to the rich tradition of excellence and grace that exemplifies the Shipley community. During the interview process, I was moved by the School’s commitment to student achievement and well-being as well as its mission to grow student leaders who can compassionately participate in the world. In light of these commitments, and in light of our current social and cultural context, I hope to prioritize the balance of student academic excellence and wellness as we seek to chart a path through, and beyond, the difficulties and challenges of this past year. I truly believe that if we successfully care for each other and if we respond to the needs of our students effectively we will set a trajectory for future wholeness and success that will set Shipley apart from its peer institutions. I look forward to bringing my experiences as an educator, coach, DEI practitioner, and Division Director to leading a brilliant team of educators and administrators toward that bright future."
I am deeply grateful to our Search Advisory Committee, our partners at RG175, and everyone who participated in the search. During his visit to Shipley, Kris met with students, teaching colleagues, administrators, and parents. While community feedback on Kris’s visit was strong (as it was for all finalists, a credit to RG175 and the Search Advisory Committee), what stood out were the comments of those who had the opportunity to interact with Kris. One community member saw Kris as “a merging of the systems-focused leader with the relationship-focused leader.” Another commented that “he would be a subtle but strong leader and…would both fit into and further strengthen the culture of Shipley.”
I share the view expressed by the Search Advisory Committee and others that Kris’s philosophy, experience, and expertise reflect his belief in the importance of individual relationships and community connection. Kris understands as an educator and a parent that student achievement is inextricably linked with individual and community well-being. As we look to the 2021-2022 school year and emerge from this Year Like No Other, I can think of no better partner to help us advance our commitment to Educational Excellence at Shipley.
Kris clearly felt the warmth and commitment of the Shipley community and he is looking forward to future visits to campus, in-person and virtual. In the weeks ahead, I will share details about opportunities to connect with Kris. For now, please join me in welcoming Kris Ryan to the Shipley community.
Michael G. Turner
Head of School