The Shipley Magazine

Theater Director and Humanities Teacher Tony "Doc" Morinelli: Shipley's Modern Renaissance Man

Kathryn Smith
Dr. Anthony “Doc” Morinelli, beloved teacher of many disciplines from art history and public speaking, to philosophy and French, describes himself as “very old school.”
“Everything is work,” he explains of his approach to student success. “Nothing happens by itself, or because you want it to happen, or you think you deserve to have it happen. It’s not an ephemeral wannabe. It’s concrete, hard work.”
Doc started at Shipley in 1987, shortly thereafter taking charge of Shipley’s theater program. Year after year the program expanded, gaining a reputation for unparalleled excellence. “We worked every weekend. Every holiday. And the kids learned how to do everything: set painting, costume design, all of those things. They knew the text and developed the skills to deliver it linguistically,” he said. “I stood in the back and they practiced until I could hear every word. And when they got it right, they got it right.”
“Developing the theater department is probably my most rewarding accomplishment,” admits Doc, who left Shipley at the end of the school year, though he will be far from retiring. You can find him in Havertown, renovating a 1698 historic property, exhibiting his art, translating manuscripts, rescuing dogs, or updating his cooking website,

Doc's This & That

Before teaching: Doc traveled the world working for the airlines, translating technical manuals from French into English.

Study abroad: Doc studied atL’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris on scholarship.

Winter blues: Doc spent the winter in his home without central heat while it is being renovated.

Puppy love: Doc places rescue dogs and has five beloved dogs of his own.

Higher education: Doc received his undergrad training in linguistics.

On the fringe: Doc’s play, When Lilacs Last, was featured at the New York Fringe Festival in 2010, with Shipley students alongside professional actors. Six years later, his play, Tea at Four was selected and performed there, too.

Gained in translation: Doc translated Depression-era testimonials from regional dialect into standard English for a book called The Slave Narratives, which is under consideration for publication.

First act: Doc’s first play at Shipley was The Washtub Farce, a play in which the roles of the husband and the wife are switched. It was performed in what is now the Lower School courtyard.

Father of alumnae: Doc’s two daughters graduated from Shipley.


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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.