Academy Leadership

Welcome From the President

President Tom Cangiano of Shady Side Academy, Private School in PittsburghWelcome to Shady Side Academy! One of the oldest independent schools in Western Pennsylvania, Shady Side enrolls more than 1,000 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 on four unique campuses. Our mission, to challenge students to think expansively, act ethically and lead responsibly, drives our curricular and co-curricular efforts at our schools. The heart and soul of any great school is the teaching faculty, and Shady Side teachers are dedicated to the craft of teaching, passionate about working with children and young adults, and committed to the idea that learning is truly a collaborative endeavor.

In partnership with parents, we strive to build supportive learning communities where students will be adaptive, resourceful, innovative and independent learners. We embrace the differences within our community and know that this diversity adds to the richness and depth of the overall learning experience. We also encourage our students to be risk takers, whether in the classroom, on the playing field or on the stage. We want to nudge students out of their comfort zones in order to expand the number of zones in which they are truly comfortable.

As the world becomes smaller and more interconnected, we aim to provide our students with the knowledge and skills to comprehend its complexity and to think about it insightfully. Each day our teachers discover new ways to bring the world into our classrooms, and we have worked hard to expand opportunities for our students to experience distant places firsthand. We encourage students to analyze old assumptions critically, as they consider solutions to current and future problems and challenges. Our goal is that Shady Side students will be engaged, thoughtful and compassionate citizens of any community in which they live.

At Shady Side we also place a very strong emphasis on the development of character and instill in students our five Guiding Principles of Honesty, Kindness, Responsibility, Respect and Safety. Legendary SSA athletic director Cap Palmer’s captured this spirit best in an exhortation to his players almost 100 years ago, which still rings true today, whether talking about athletic contests, academic pursuits or life in general: “Honor the game thou playest, for he who playest the game straight and hard wins even when he loses.”

It is a great pleasure to invite you to explore our community. We hope that you will be able to visit our campuses in person. I would be delighted to meet you when you do.


Tom Cangiano
Academy President

Tom Cangiano's Bio

Thomas M. Cangiano became president of Shady Side Academy in July 2010. Under Cangiano's leadership, Shady Side has grown and thrived. He led the development and implementation of a new Strategic Vision in 2012, the re-crafting of SSA's mission and philosophy statements in 2013, the reinstatement of the seven-day boarding program in 2015, and the merger with Fox Chapel Country Day School in 2017. He also has heightened SSA's focus on sustainability with the addition of the Academy-wide SSA Farm program, the weekly Fox Chapel Farmers Market on the Senior School campus, and a composting program in the dining halls.

Capital projects completed under Cangiano include the construction of Michael J. Farrell Stadium and the renovation of the swimming pool and girls' dormitory at the Senior School. Fulfilling a key Strategic Vision objective, the science facilities at the Junior and Middle Schools have been renovated and the construction of a new Center for Science and Innovation at the Senior School is planned.

Cangiano serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) and the Beckwith Institute for Clinical Transformation. In 2015, he served as chair of the Pittsburgh Consortium of Independent Schools (PCIS).

Cangiano came to SSA in 2010 after three years as president of the American College of Sofia (ACS) in Bulgaria, a highly selective private day and boarding school for grades 8-12 that provides a rigorous academic program in English, offers the International Baccalaureate program, and awards Bulgarian and American secondary school diplomas. Prior to ACS he spent nine years (1998-2007) at The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J., where he served as history master and dormitory housemaster and coached lacrosse and football. He served as History Department chair at The Trevor Day School in New York, N.Y., (1995-1998), history and English teacher at the American International School of Budapest in Hungary (1991-1994), and English teacher at Stratton Mountain School in Stratton Mountain, Vt. (1990-1991).

A native of Massachusetts, Cangiano holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American literature with a minor in American history from Middlebury College, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tufts University, and a Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy in history from Columbia University. He and his wife, Linda, have three children: George, Grace and Celia.

Past Presidents and Headmasters

  • William R. Crabbe, Principal, 1883-1913
  • Luther B. Adams, Principal, 1913-1919
  • Harold A. Nomer, Headmaster, 1919-1937
  • Demass E. Barnes, Acting Headmaster, 1937-1938
  • E. Trudeau Thomas, Headmaster, 1938-1941
  • Roger B. Merriman, Headmaster, 1941-1944
  • Clifton O. Page, Acting Headmaster, 1942-1944
  • Erdman Harris, Headmaster, 1944-1953
  • George L. Follansbee, Headmaster, 1953-1965
  • Edward S. Bradford Jr., Acting Headmaster, 1965-1966
  • Samuel S. Greene, Headmaster, 1966-1976
  • A. Emerson Johnson III, President, 1976-1988
  • Peter J. Kountz, President, 1988-2001
  • Thomas N. Southard, President, 2001-2010
  • Thomas M. Cangiano, President, 2010-2018