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Sophie Lau Named Head of Shady Side Academy Senior School


FOX CHAPEL – Shady Side Academy President Tom Cangiano has announced the permanent appointment of Sophie Lau as the head of the Senior School. Lau has been serving as the interim head of the Senior School since July 2016, after having served two years as assistant head and dean of faculty. She succeeds Katharine Vavpetic, who departed in July to join the administrative team of GEMS Education in Dubai.


At Shady Side, Lau is responsible for the educational and extracurricular experience of approximately 485 students in grades 9-12 (including 65 boarders) on the 130-acre Senior School campus in Fox Chapel. She manages a team of approximately 90 teachers, administrators and support staff.


“I have been very impressed with all aspects of Sophie’s leadership,” said Cangiano. “I have spoken with people from many different school constituencies – faculty, parents, students, trustees and administrative staff – and the overwhelming response has been that she is doing an excellent job and has the potential to be an exceptional school leader. Typically, we would conduct a full national search for this position. However, based on Sophie’s performance as assistant head and dean of faculty, and her seamless transition to the interim head’s role, I believe we would not find a better, more qualified candidate externally.”


Lau joined SSA in 2014 as dean of faculty and assistant head of the Senior School after 12 years at the Wheeler School, where she was head of the History Department as well as an academic advisor, faculty advisor to the Student Senate, faculty representative to the Disciplinary Committee and technology integrationist. Prior to Wheeler, she spent five years as a history teacher, dean and coach at the Pingry School, two years as a history teacher and dorm parent at Tabor Academy, and a year as a History Department intern at Groton School. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Princeton University and a master's degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


“I am thrilled to serve in the role of head of the Senior School at Shady Side,” said Lau. “I was first drawn to the Academy by its rich tradition of excellence and its unique approach to inquiry-based learning across the curriculum. I am excited to build on these strengths as we embark on exciting new initiatives, including the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation and the growth of our boarding program. I feel privileged to be part of the Shady Side community and to lead a talented faculty dedicated to helping young people reach their fullest potential as we fulfill our mission to challenge students to think expansively, act ethically and lead responsibly.”


Source: SSA

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