Hannah, Katharine, & Elizabeth Shipley 1894-1916 Pioneers in education for women at a time when it was controversial, the Shipley sisters founded The Misses Shipley’s School for Girls Preparatory to Bryn Mawr College. Their fundamental philosophy embodied the whole student: academics, spirit, character, and health, including sports. The sisters’ focus on academic excellence, intellectual integrity, and character continue today.
Alice Howland & Eleanor Brownell 1916–1941 “The Hownells,” as they were known, guided Shipley through wars, epidemics, and economic depression, building a national reputation for the School. They hired strong and highly regarded teachers, a large number of whom stayed for many years. In 1932, they oversaw Shipley’s incorporation as a non-profit with a Board of Directors.
Russell & Mildred Akin ’28 Lynes 1937–1944 Hired in 1937 as Assistant Heads in anticipation of the Hownells’ retirement, the Lynes became principals in 1941. They guided students in a necessary transition from pre-war gentility to preparedness for the modern world, and were quite a contrast to the “austere” Hownells.
Margaret Bailey Speer 1944-1965 Overseeing significant campus growth, Miss Speer maintained high academic standards while emphasizing compassion, community, and civic responsibility. She encouraged the Board to accept Shipley’s first African-American students.
Isota Tucker Epes ’36 1965-1972 Gave firm guidance in a period of social turmoil with a sympathetic ear to the conflicting views of parents and children. In 1967, she established the endowment fund. She initiated the Episcopal Exchange in 1971–72 which led to coeducation.
Nancy Lauber 1972-1979 Managed Shipley’s transition to coeducation. Miss Lauber encouraged the broadening of Shipley’s curriculum and stressed the importance of relationships between students and teachers. She advocated for the addition of a health curriculum.
Frederic L. Chase III 1979-1985 Broke a longstanding Shipley tradition as the School’s first male head. Oversaw significant modernization of the curriculum, with the addition of computer courses and a Russian Studies program, as well as the end of the boarding department at Shipley.
Gary R. Gruber 1985-1992 Shipley’s mission is updated during Gruber’s tenure. Focused on integrating “goodness” with high academic standards, he also addressed the changing needs of the American family and the shifting role of independent schools, which was becoming increasingly complex.
Steve Piltch 1992-2019 Over the course of his 27-year tenure, Piltch has overseen significant growth in enrollment, the transformation of the campus, and the launch of Positive Education and other 21st century education initiatives, while ensuring financial stability at Shipley. Read more about him in this profile from the Spring 2019 issue of the Shipley Magazine.
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.