Steve Piltch
Shipley's Head of School
If this is your first visit to Shipley, I envy you, remembering my own first experience in March of 1992.

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Letter from Steve Piltch, Head of School

List of 13 news stories.

  • Letter from Steve Piltch - April 2019

    Steve recalls a very busy yet fun April, full of events for everyone in the community. He mentions the 125th Day of School All School Assembly, 125th Changemaker Symposium, visits from special alumni, the Spring Auction, musicals and more.
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - March 2019

    Just this month, Steve witnessed four different events that had him in awe of our kids and of their growth and their performance. "As with most everything we do, the process frequently matters more than the result, and this is the time of year when we see the results in so many areas that show the ongoing growth of our kids."
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - February 2019

    This month, Steve has been reflecting on goals and objectives for our students, particularly as it relates to their ability to engage effectively and thoughtfully in a world that is increasingly complex – but also increasingly lacking in thoughtful dialogue. In his letter, he shares a few resources to be able to communicate in a productive manner.
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - January 2019

    Ernest Hemingway's The The Old Man and the Sea and our recent All-School Assembly reinforced for Steve the importance of understanding that what we initially see in people may not be who they really are.  "Let’s continue to work together so that our students have the transforming experiences that allow them to develop and share their voice and go on to utilize the courage necessary to deal with inequities and make a difference." 
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - December 2018

    During a cooking lesson with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, Steve noticed a deep connection between her work and what we believe at Shipley.  "As she spoke, she emphasized that her background in science, math, and psychology were important factors in becoming a successful chef. She reinforced my belief that broad, integrated learning and love for your work are at the heart of excelling in whatever you do."
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - November 2018

    Thanksgiving is Steve's favorite holiday, and for good reason. It's a time for reflecting on what matters most and being grateful for what's around you. He recalls All-School President Henry Katz's words at the Thanksgiving All-School Assembly, about the small things being important and offers a few suggestions of little things to make others (and ourselves) a little calmer during the upcoming holiday season.
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - October 2018

    October proved to be a very busy yet fulfilling month. Dr. Piltch reflects, "It’s in experiences like this that I realize that as important as the academic program is, it's often the things that go with it—such as field trips and other co-curricular activities—that make a difference in people's lives."
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - September 2018

    In this month's letter, Steve expresses his gratitude to the Shipley community for a wonderful start to the new year. "In particular, thanks go to parents and guardians who have been there not only to support their own children, but also to reach out and find ways to make a difference in others’ lives and in the School."
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - August 2018

    Steve's summer was full of great nostalgia and special importance, including the wedding of his daughter and beginning his final year at Shipley.  "Everywhere I turned, I found myself doing things that forced me to reflect on the many years I’ve had the privilege to spend as the Head of Shipley." 
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - May 2018

    The end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and Steve is both nostalgic about the past year and looking forward to what the Class of 2018 will accomplish.
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - April 2018

    Over Shipley's spring break, Steve and his wife traveled to China to visit Shipley families and schools in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. While his trip was one he will never forget, the most important lesson he learned was to remain open to and receptive of those who come from a different background, have different views, or simply look different.
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - March 2018

    Steve reflects on Shipley's March All-School Assembly, which highlighted moments of Shipley pride. "My hat is off to each and every student mentioned above and to all of our students who are seeking and finding excellence on an individual or collective basis."
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  • Letter from Steve Piltch - February 2018

    After noticing a family out to dinner together engaging with their phones instead of each other, Steve reflected on the increased use of technology in our everyday lives and the effects it has on us as people.  "Many of us—and I very much include myself—rely on our phones (and other technology) way too often."
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Shipley has a long tradition of preparing students for college and for full participation in the world. We also have a long tradition of supporting diversity and of encouraging each student’s development as an individual.
A student’s deep passion for learning can so often be credited to an educator with a genuine love for teaching. And at Shipley, arguably no one loves his or her work more than Steve Piltch, Head of School.

For more than two decades, Steve Piltch has led Shipley with enthusiasm, dedication and humility. In doing so, he has inspired those around him to always seek to improve and to find what is in the best interest of the Shipley community. “My job is to spur passion and interest, to be compassionate and understanding, and to move people to do the best work they can do, so that we can do the best we can for every student in the school,” he says.

With that generous philosophy at the heart of his work, Steve has served the school through an era full of change, growth and stability, and continues to look towards the future—always with the welfare of Shipley students in mind.

“For me, the job is about doing is what is best for our students and the people in our community,” he says. Steve’s own upbringing, education, and early work experience inspire this keen commitment to the wellbeing of not only students but also of everyone in a school community.”

Steve’s awareness of the importance of education was kindled when he was very young. He grew up in Greater Boston as one of nine children. Looking back, he says his mother was one of the greatest educators he’s ever seen. Through his family’s commitment to education, he learned the value of academics early on, excelled at school, and moved forwards on his path to attend Williams College.

During college, Steve was unsure of what he wanted to do when he graduated. He contemplated lots of possibilities. Going into his senior year, his academic advisor at Williams asked him the right questions at the right time that sparked the idea of pursuing a career in education. He noted: “My conversations with my advisor reinforced for me that everything I loved – children, athletics, learning, community, and academics --- revolved around schools. The conversation empowered me to pursue something I might have really wanted to do, but had not yet consciously decided to do.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Steve was offered a position at Choate Rosemary Hall, a highly respected boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut. Though a few preconceived ideas about independent schools gave Piltch pause, he accepted the position. “My perception when I was really young—wrongly, by the way—was that the only people who went to independent schools were either really wealthy or really troubled, or perhaps both,” he says.

Once Steve began working with students at Choate Rosemary Hall, his passion for teaching ignited into fully formed resolve towards a career as an educator. Soon after arriving, he knew that teaching (education) would be his lifelong pursuit. “I loved everything about it,” he says, “I got to teach, I got to coach, I got to advise, I got to grow.”

During his introductory time at Choate, Steve immersed himself in campus life. “To this day, I’ve never worked harder than I did in my first few years,” he says, “I taught four or five sections, I coached three sports, I advised two or three groups, I was a dorm advisor for 10 or 15 kids, and I loved every minute of it.”

Steve was hooked. He knew he wanted to spend his life as an educator, and, more specifically, he aspired to one day be the head of a school. Choate gave him the chance to test the waters of administration, too, as a dean. “I absolutely made my share of mistakes all the way through! But people were supportive and I grew,” he says.

With the experience of Choate and an eye towards administration, Steve pursued graduate studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in Counseling and Consulting Psychology, and now holds two Masters degrees in education and a Doctorate in education from Harvard University.

While he studied at HGSE, Steve concurrently pursued his passion for sports with a position at Harvard as an assistant coach of men’s squash and then the head coach of the women's squash team. “I loved every minute of it,” he says. For the next nine years he would coach squash at Harvard, eventually becoming the head coach of both the women’s and men’s teams and an assistant director of athletics.

On the first day of Harvard orientation in 1983, Steve also met the woman who would later become his wife, Sunny Greenberg. Steve describes Sunny as “a great educator and spectacular human being” and who later would join him at Shipley as an English teacher.

As Steve wrapped up his studies at Harvard, he began his search for a school that’s principles of education aligned with his own. “I knew not to take a job just to take a job,” he says. “The philosophical fit had to be right.”

Fortunately for Shipley, after his first interview on a rainy day in March 1992, Steve knew quickly that Shipley would be a perfect fit. “I fell in love with the place, honestly,” he says, “I loved what [Shipley] was about—it was about challenging and supporting kids. It was about appreciating kids as individuals. It was about offering them opportunities.”

Now, Steve is one of the longest-standing heads of school in the region, but to him, the time has flown by. “The only time I feel as old as I am is when I look in the mirror,” says Steve, who has seen his wife, Sunny, lead a thriving career as an English teacher at Shipley, and their three children, Matt, Ali and Jamie, all graduate from Shipley. “This has been a real family affair in a lot of ways.”

After attending Shipley, Steve and Sunny’s son Matt graduated from Williams College in 2012 and now works for Deloitte in Boston. Two years after Matt, Ali also graduated from Williams College and now works at Bain & Company. In June 2013, Jamie graduated from Shipley, and he is now enrolled at Harvard.

But it’s hardly only family accomplishments that have marked Steve’s time at Shipley. “Success is not simply about getting the grade, or winning the game,” he says. Instead, he believes it is about the process to get there and what can come from that top grade or best game: “The milestones I look to revolve around kids and their development. If we do our jobs well, our students learn at least as much from the process as they do from the results. In fact, good process maximizes the chance of achieving great results.”

Steve notes that education has changed in a lot of ways. "It’s not only about the reading and writing, but also about the character development and emotional literacy.” According to him, if kids learn to think critically and express themselves clearly, they will more likely have the chance to develop "a strong sense of their ethical domain."

"I think the easiest thing to do is to teach our students how to think," he says, "how to do the academic piece. I also believe that the skills they need to learn to function and succeed go beyond the academics. In addition to being motivated and committed and striving for achievement and excellence, our students need to develop empathy and resilience, and passion and compassion to meet the challenges and make a difference."

To go about helping students develop an aptitude not only for academics, but also for morals and ethics, gets to the heart of the Shipley mission—a commitment to educational excellence, the love of learning, and compassionate participation in the world.

Ultimately, Steve simply strives for Shipley to be a place where its students can be appreciated as individuals and thrive. “I hope what I’ve done is to provide a clear vision, and a clear sense of a commitment to what the school’s mission is about, and hopefully the opportunity for growth for everybody and the ways to get it done.

“I’ve been remarkably lucky. I’m surrounded by gifted and dedicated colleagues, by a great board of trustees, by a knowledgeable and committed parent body, and by students that I think are first rate. They are the ones who make things happen at Shipley and who define this wonderful school. I couldn’t ask for more,” says Steve. I love my job, and I love our community.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.