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Michelle Merson Named Next Head of Middle School
Michelle Merson

Shady Side Academy President Bart Griffith Jr. ’93 has announced the appointment of Michelle Merson as the Academy’s next head of Middle School, effective July 1, 2023

The appointment concludes a comprehensive search that begin last summer when current Middle School Head Amy Nixon announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

Merson brings more than 25 years of experience teaching and leading in middle schools. Since 2016, she has served as head of middle school at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, a K-12 independent day school in Santa Monica, Calif., where she is responsible for 330 students and 80 faculty and staff. She previously served as Crossroads’ assistant head of middle school, middle school dean, assistant director of the summer program, humanities teacher, and basketball and swimming coach. In partnership with the consulting firm Independent School Management, she also co-facilitates the summer program Leading the Effective Middle School for new middle school heads and principals.

“We are thrilled to welcome Michelle Merson to Shady Side as our next head of Middle School,” said Griffith. “Michelle has always found great joy in working with this age group, dedicating her career to supporting middle school students as they navigate a dynamic and challenging phase in their lives. A remarkably student-centered leader, she brings a unique capacity to help middle schoolers emerge strong, healthy, and well-prepared for high school and young adulthood.”

“After visiting, I was impressed and moved by the people of Shady Side,” said Merson. “I found a shared pride that speaks to the warmth, clarity of purpose and good work of a dynamic school community. The Middle School is a vibrant, joyful place, and I am committed to seeing it flourish in the coming years. The dedication of the faculty to the care and education of students is most compelling for me. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead and support Shady Side’s outstanding programs and to listen deeply to its students, faculty and families. There’s a great tradition of intellectual curiosity evident at Shady Side, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Merson holds a B.A. in history from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in American studies from Pepperdine University. A native of St. Louis, she has family across the Mid-Atlantic. She and her husband, Drew Brody, have two children, Isaiah (16) and Lindey Jane (12).

Nixon has been head of SSA's Middle School since 2004 and also served as the Academy’s interim president in 2018-2019. She initially joined SSA in 2001 as a Middle School English teacher.

Located on a 35-acre campus in Fox Chapel, Shady Side Academy Middle School serves a coed population of nearly 215 students in grades 6-8, with approximately 40 faculty and staff.

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