Middle School Head

Welcome to Shady Side Academy Middle School!

Sitting upon a hill overlooking our beautiful 35-acre campus, the Middle School is home to a dynamic and engaging community of students and teachers. Here, we support young people on their journey through adolescence, at a time of rapid intellectual, social and emotional growth.

We think expansively. Middle School students are challenged academically, whether learning Chinese, Spanish or Latin in language class, discussing angles in math class, exploring earthquakes in science class, discussing themes of identity, empathy and justice in English class, reenacting the Battle of Bunker Hill in social studies class, or taking a field trip to the Warhol Museum in art class. Small class sizes encourage students to participate in deeper conversations, challenging them to think critically and apply their newfound understanding.

We act ethically. Growing up and navigating the challenges of adolescence can be hard, and we are committed to helping students grow socially and emotionally. In small advisory groups, students and teachers develop supportive relationships as they explore human interactions and share successes and challenges together. Students gain important self-advocacy skills as they learn to ask teachers for help and are empowered to create outreach and service opportunities.

We lead responsibly. As young people navigate their academic and social lives, many of them step up and begin to take on greater amounts of leadership. In class, students become group leaders and direct their peers through the stages of a class project. On athletic teams, students lead drills and encourage their teammates to put forth their best efforts. On stage, experienced actors train and mentor younger actors. These efforts build leadership characteristics and lay the groundwork for future personal growth.

I invite you to visit our school to learn more about our commitment to helping students successfully navigate the rich and challenging learning environment.


Michelle Merson
Head of Middle School

Michelle Merson

Michelle Merson became head of Shady Side Academy Middle School in 2023. Prior to SSA, she served seven years as head of middle school at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, a K-12 independent day school in Santa Monica, Calif. 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 co-facilitated the summer program Leading the Effective Middle School for new middle school heads and principals. 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 and her husband, Drew Brody, have two children, Isaiah and Lindey Jane.