Junior School Head

Welcome to Shady Side Academy Junior School!

Our passion here at the Junior School is little people! The late Fred Rogers was also passionate about little people, and he gave great advice during his many years on the air, asking us to “listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.”

As educators at the Junior School, we embody Mister Rogers’ advice as we strive to set the tone and build a foundation for students to become lifelong learners. We seek to instill a joy for learning and foster creative learning environments where children can play, discover, engage and just be kids. We are grounded by the Academy’s Guiding Principles of honesty, kindness, responsibility, respect and safety. We teach children to live by these principles when they learn to live the “Shady Side Way.” 

We are fortunate to have the very best faculty and staff, who facilitate each child’s growth and development. We understand that every child is an individual, and our faculty works relentlessly to establish strong, trustworthy relationships with each child so that they feel loved, supported and cared for. We meet each child where they are to ensure their individual needs are being met.

Our teachers have access to some of the best resources and curriculum to assist them in meeting the needs of every student. Two of our distinctive programs are Reading and Writing Workshop and Singapore Math. These programs provide both a sequence that is developmentally appropriate for students and the proper sense of rigor for students at multiple levels. Additionally, we are intentional about building our culture and community, using the Responsive Classroom approach. Responsive Classroom allows students and teachers to engage and learn about each other while tapping into aspects of social-emotional learning.

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight our fantastic arts and specialty programs. Students rotate between seven different “specials” where they have rich opportunities to engage with movement, instruments, technology, books, languages, paint, robots and more!

I would like to take this moment to formally invite you to visit the Junior School at your convenience. We would love for you to stop by to engage, learn and play with us!


Dr. Peter Mathis
Interim Head of the Junior School

Dr. Peter Mathis

Peter Mathis

Dr. Peter Mathis is serving as the interim head of the Junior School for the 2019-2020 school year after serving as the assistant head of the Junior School in 2018-2019.

Prior to his arrival at Shady Side in 2018, Dr. Mathis served as assistant principal of the Lower School at the Environmental Charter School (ECS) for four years. He was also a health and physical Education teacher at ECS prior to his administrative appointment. Before ECS, he was a teacher and athletic director with the Clairton City School District. He got his start in Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, where he served as a teacher, coach and mentor.