About Us

Meet Head of School

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      Head of School Mark Stanek speaks about what makes Shady Hill special.

Welcome to Shady Hill. Here, we offer children a fundamentally different way of teaching and learning. While there are innumerable ways that Shady Hill profoundly shapes each student’s experience, five dimensions, in particular, stand out to me: 
  • Expert, Caring Faculty—Our outstanding teachers know each of our students as individuals and guide as well as instruct them in discovery and exploration.
  • Joyful Learning—Our student-centered approach promotes independent thinking, creativity, and healthy risk-taking while developing an ethical mindset. Older students engage with younger ones, reinforcing their roles as community leaders and contributors.
  • Central Subject—In Grades 3–8, students spend the year studying an overarching topic through literature, geography, writing, and history. Before Grade 3, classes pursue a variety of Thematic Studies, each embracing the Central Subject methodology but in shorter, age-appropriate units.
  • Campus—Our beautiful campus has a small-village feel. Students use its open spaces, natural areas, and wetlands as extended learning spaces as they observe and explore their world.
  • Teacher Training Center—Each year, our renowned program brings 8-10 aspiring teachers to campus. The benefit is two-way. The apprentices train to be progressive educators while our faculty keeps abreast of innovative trends and best practices in education.
For a virtual tour of our program and campus, I invite you to explore a set of interactive pages that showcase Shady Hill. The combination of videos, interviews, and classroom highlights will give you an inside view of what we value and cherish as a school and as a community. To access the tour, click here.
I hope you will be energized by what you read, hear, and see in your exploration of this website and discover what a remarkable learning environment Shady Hill is for children.
Mark J. Stanek
Head of School

Meet Mark Stanek

Mark Stanek became Shady Hill's sixth Head of School on July 1, 2010.

  • B.A. in Mathematics, Hamilton College
  • M.A. in Private School Leadership and Education Administration, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Recipient of the Klingenstein Scholarship & Rose Scholarship
Previous Experience
  • Head of School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York
  • Middle School Principal at Milton Academy
  • Authored the 2nd edition of The Middle School Handbook for NAIS.
Board Experience
  • President of Association of Independent Schools of New England (2018 to present)
  • CCAE (2018-present)
  • Charles River School (2017 to present)
  • The Heads Network (2012 to present)
  • Beacon Academy (2013 to 2016)
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Featured on:

A Selection of Mark's Writing

  • • SHS Magazine Mission in Action 2021-2022
    From using literature to ensure students’ identities are mirrored and valued in the classroom to teaching students the importance of meditation, yoga, and self-regulation, our students are learning “forever” life skills. I hope you enjoy reading these articles that highlight our mission in action and show how everyone continues to put Shady Hill’s mission and belief statements at the center of our work.
  • • State of the School 2021-2022
  • • SHS Magazine Summer 2021: A year of Relationships, Resilience, and Responsibility
    This issue explains the ways Shady Hill’s drive to adapt and pivot to gain flexibility, to ensure the safety of our school in a global pandemic, and to withhold our three Rs (relationships, resilience, and responsibility) have long been a part of the foundation of Shady Hill.
  • • State of the School 2020-2021
  • • Shady Hill's Commitment to Racial Equality
    This letter to the community was prompted by the spate of deaths of Black people by police officers. Mark affirms Shady Hill’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and urges the community to work together to make a positive and real impact. 
  • • State of the School 2019–20
    This issue speaks to a culture of innovation and to a community that works tirelessly to cultivate inquiring minds. The result is a school that honors tradition, embraces change, and puts principle into practice.
  • • SHS Magazine--Spring 2019: Educating the Spirit, Mind, and Body
    In this issue, Mark explains that Shady Hill’s sports and fitness programs instill a delight for being physically active—one facet of the joyful, lifelong learning SHS works hard to develop. The important social, cognitive, physical skills they teach nourish the spirit, mind, and body.
  • • State of the School 2018-2019
    In this overview of 2018-2019's programmatic, community, and institutional achievements, Mark describes a host of ways that the School is furthering its mission and ensuring that students are well prepared for meaningful, productive futures.
  • • SHS Magazine--Fall 2018: Central Subject is Central
    In this issue, Mark explains that the power of Shady Hill's Central Subject approach comes through connecting subject matter to authentic human issues and tapping students' emotions, creativity, and intelligence in ways that are meaningful, relevant, and enduring.
  • • SHS Magazine--Spring 2018: Start Strong, Stay Strong
    In this issue, Mark writes about the School's throughlines centered around the excitement, satisfaction, and power experienced when one learns to think deeply and for oneself.
  • • SHS Magazine--Spring 2017: Leveling the Playing Field
    In this issue, Mark discusses how Shady Hill infuses affective education into the program, helping students appreciate difference, navigate conflict, and act with courage.
  • • SHS Magazine--Fall 2016: Two Perspectives Are Better Than One
    In this issue, Mark writes about how effective communities are built through deliberate, collective action and that the practice of examining the status quo is an important sign of a healthy community.
  • • SHS Magazine--Winter 2016: Building Fortresses
    In this issue, Mark talks about how Shady Hill helps students develop the building blocks for fearless living.
617.520.5260      178 Coolidge Hill  Cambridge MA 02138           Association of Independent Schools in New England