Academy Leadership

Welcome From the Interim President

Interim President Amy Nixon 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.


Amy Nixon
Interim Academy President

Amy Nixon's Bio

Amy Nixon became interim president of Shady Side Academy in July 2018, after serving as head of SSA Middle School for 14 years. While at the Middle School, she guided some significant curricular changes, expanded student support services and oversaw the development of a vibrant advisory and character development program with the motto “What You Do Matters.”

Nixon joined the Shady Side Academy Middle School faculty in 2001 and taught English for three years prior to becoming head of school in 2004. Prior to SSA, she was chair of the History Department at the Vail Deane School in New Jersey from 1977 to 1980, and she was a history teacher and Middle School Director at Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, her alma mater, from 1980 to 1985. Nixon served on the Board of Trustees at Winchester Thurston from 1986 to 2002 and was board chair for four years. She also has served on the boards of the FISA Foundation and the Pace School, both in Pittsburgh.

A native of Pittsburgh, Nixon is a graduate of Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in history. She has three sons, Sam Mindlin, Lucas Mindlin ’05 and Casey Mindlin ’06.

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 '30, Headmaster/President, 1953-1965
  • Edward S. Bradford Jr., Acting President, 1965-1966
  • Samuel S. Greene, President, 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
  • Amy Nixon, Interim President, 2018-2019