Shipley School

The Shipley School is a coeducational, independent, college-preparatory day school with approximately 850 students in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Shipley is located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, approximately 12 miles west of Philadelphia.

The Shipley School
814 Yarrow Street,
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010
TypeCoeducational Independent College Preparatory School
MottoFortiter in Re; Leniter in Modo
"Courage for the deed; Grace for the doing"
Head of schoolMichael G. Turner
Student to teacher ratio7:1
Color(s)Navy Blue and Forest Green
Information(610) 525-4300


In 1888, three sisters—Hannah, Elizabeth, and Katharine Shipley—founded Shipley to prepare girls for Bryn Mawr College, located directly across the street. The Shipley sisters were strong-minded, well-educated Quaker women and envisioned the school as far more than a mere finishing school. When the school opened in the Fall of 1894, with six students and nine faculty members, a philosophy of education was established that would guide the school for over a hundred years, up to the present time.[1]

By the 1940s, Shipley had expanded its purpose and student body admitting approximately 341 students and sending its graduates to many traditional women's colleges. At this time, about half of all Upper School students were boarders hailing from all over the country and from Europe, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Shipley discontinued its boarding department and began to admit male students. The last boarders graduated in 1982, and by 1984 the school was fully coeducational with equal numbers of girls and boys.[2] Starting in the 1990s, and increasingly since then, Shipley has augmented their traditional teaching methods and facilities with growing technological expertise and equipment.

Shipley's curriculum, increasingly interdisciplinary and project-based, is designed specifically to give students the tools to succeed in college and in life in the 21st century.[3]


The Shipley School, a Pre-Kindergarten - grade 12 coeducational day school, is committed to educational excellence and dedicated to developing in each student a love of learning and a compassionate participation in the world. Through a strong college preparatory curriculum in the humanities and sciences, the school encourages curiosity, creativity, and respect for intellectual effort. Shipley upholds and promotes moral integrity, a sense of personal achievement and worth, and concern for others at school and in the larger community.[4]


In 2009, Shipley embarked on The Campaign for Shipley: Foundations for Success.[5]

Phase I

  • Purchase and razing of Thornbrook Manor apartment building
  • New campus entrance at Wyndon & North Merion Avenues
  • 88-space parking garage and physical plant facility
  • Six (6) tennis courts
  • Two (2) multi-sport regulation-size artificial turf fields[6]

Phase II

  • 23,000 square-foot Shipley Commons and Arts Center
  • Renovation of the existing dining room in the Main building, which houses the new Learning and Research Center (multimedia library and research facility)[7]

Phase III

  • 5,000 square-foot Squash Center
  • 2,500 square-foot Rowing Center[8]

School structure

Lower school

The Lower School enrolls about 239 students in Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade with an average class size of 15 students. Teachers are aided by full-time teaching assistant, providing a student-to-teacher ratio of seven-to-one. In recent years the Lower School has added a character development component to its curriculum, designed to encourage and instill compassionate, respectful, and principled behavior. The Lower School also offers:

  • An after-school program from three to six in the afternoon
  • Private music lessons
  • A drama club for fourth and fifth grade students[9][10]

Middle school

The Middle School has about 301 students in grades six through eight. The average class size is 16. Students enroll in math, history, science, English, and foreign language (Latin and French, Mandarin, or Spanish) courses. Students also complete coursework in computer literacy, studio art, theater, and music. In seventh grade, the curriculum includes the "Generations Project," a several-week-long program during which students research their heritage. Every spring the Middle School puts on a musical.

Athletics change significantly during Middle School. In sixth grade, students have the option to participate in a physical education program or in an intra-school athletic league. In seventh and eighth grades, students are encouraged to join sports teams which compete against area schools. Middle School interscholastic boys' sports include soccer, basketball, squash, baseball, tennis, and lacrosse. Girls' sports include soccer, field hockey, tennis, volleyball, basketball, swimming, softball, and lacrosse. For many sports, students are subdivided into multiple teams based on ability.[11]

Upper school

The Upper School enrolls about 401 students in the ninth through twelfth grades. The average class size is 13 students. In most courses, students can choose to take either a standard or honors level. Prior to the 2009-2010 academic year, Shipley offered Advanced Placement courses in most subjects. Like many other independent schools, Shipley has discontinued its Advanced Placement program to increase curricular latitude, although it still offers AP Studio Art.

While in Upper School, students must take four English courses, three math courses, three courses in the same world language, two history courses (including US history), and two science courses. Every year, students must enroll in five of these "major courses," each of which meets six times during the seven-day rotation. However, students are permitted to take six major classes. Students may also take major courses in studio art, music theory, philosophy, art history, economics, film, or humanities. During junior year, students can elect to take an interdisciplinary American Studies course, which fulfills both a history and English requirement. Interdisciplinary courses, in which ideas expand across multiple academic disciplines, are very common at Shipley. A wide range of interdisciplinary courses are offered to students. Additionally, "minor courses," which meet once or twice a rotation, are required in music, art, and health. Minor courses in theater and public speaking are also offered.[12]

Every Upper School student is required complete a minimum of forty hours of community service in order to graduate. During the last several weeks of senior year, students volunteer with an area service organization of their choice, in lieu of taking classes.

College counseling is available to every senior and second semester junior. Students take a "minor course" taught by the college counseling office during their junior spring and senior fall semesters.[13]

Student life


Since the 2005-2006 school year, Shipley has competed in the Friends Schools League, which was founded in 1982 on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends. Abington Friends School, The Academy of the New Church, Friends' Central School, Friends Select School, George School, Germantown Friends School, Moorestown Friends School, and the Westtown School are the other eight members of the conference. Shipley is the only member of the league that is not a religious school.

Upper School students can choose from about 16 sports, most of which are offered at the varsity and junior varsity levels. Boys and girls compete on separate teams in the following sports: crew, soccer, cross country, tennis, basketball, squash, and lacrosse. The golf, cross country, and swimming teams are co-ed. Additionally, there is a boys baseball team and girls softball, field hockey, and volleyball teams. Students who are particularly engaged in a sport that Shipley does not offer, may, with permission, engage in an independent sport for credit. Students who do not participate in at least two sports per year, are required to take physical education courses.[14]

Shipley's colors are blue and green, and its mascot is the Gator. In recent years, the gym's student section has been dubbed "The Swamp," the gator's natural habitat. Shipley teams have won 38 championships in the past 5 years.[15]

The arts

Lower School students perform in plays throughout the year and sing in the chorus. Lower School students are also encouraged to participate in the advanced chorus, recorder ensemble, orchestra, and string ensemble.

In Middle School, in addition to the chorus, the school offers handbell choirs, a wind ensemble, and a string ensemble. As of the 2009-2010 school year, students are no longer required to perform. The Middle School puts on a musical every spring.

In Upper School, while students are not required to perform, there are many more offerings in music and theater. Vocal groups include the Glee Club and The Shipley Singers (a select co-ed a cappella group). Instrumental groups include a jazz band, string ensemble, handbell ensemble, and opportunities for chamber music.[16][17]

Upper School students can choose from a number of theater offerings. Traditionally, the theater department puts on a series of one act plays in the fall and a musical in the spring. The Shakespeare Program, started in 2002, presents a selection of Shakespeare scenes in the fall semester and a full Shakespeare play in the spring semester.[18][19]

In 2010 a Shipley production, When Lilacs Last, written by the school's theater director, was performed at both the New York and Philadelphia Fringe Festivals.

Extracurricular activities

Shipley students participate in many different club, activities, and publications. An incomplete list is included below.

  • Action Research
  • Aesthetic Skills Development
  • Anime Club
  • Art Club
  • Baking Club
  • The Beacon, the student newspaper[20]
  • Black Student Union
  • Chess Club
  • Chinese Culture and Connection Club
  • Civic Activism Club
  • Classics Club
  • The Compass, the school's literary and visual arts publication
  • Conspiracy Club
  • Creative Writing Circle
  • Current Events
  • Debate Club
  • DECA Team
  • Disc Sports
  • Environmental Club
  • Escape into Reality (TV)
  • Film Club
  • The Fog, an alternative student run and student published newspaper.
  • Food Club
  • Fashion Club
  • Highlight Video Club
  • International Club
  • Investment Club
  • Italian Club
  • Japanese Club
  • K-Pop Club
  • Life Saving Skills
  • Maker Space
  • Math Club + Philly Math League
  • Media Club
  • Meditation
  • Mentoring Club
  • Music Club
  • Needle Felting Club
  • Peace of Mind
  • Ping-pong
  • Political Philosophy Club
  • Puzzle Club
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Robotics Club
  • Science Olympiad
  • Service Club
  • Shipley Scouts
  • Shipley Spirit/Humans of Shipley
  • Short Films
  • Sports Debate Club
  • Sprouts, a horticultural club which participates annually in the Philadelphia Flower Show[21]
  • SSAL
  • Strategy Game Club
  • Student Council
  • Student Philanthropy Group
  • Studio Art Club
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Technology Student Association
  • Vinyl Club
  • Women in Power Club
  • Women in STEAM
  • Women in Writing
  • Yearbook Club (Tempora Praeterita)
  • Yoga Club
  • Young Democrats
  • Young Republicans

School profile

Notable alumni and interesting facts

  • Shipley is mentioned in J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, believes Jane Gallagher to have gone to either Shipley or "B.M." which could be interpreted as Bryn Mawr. J.D. Salinger's first wife, Claire Douglas, was a Shipley alumna.
  • Shipley is also mentioned in Tad Friend's Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor. Friend attended Shipley before matriculating to Harvard and later writing for The New Yorker.
  • Synthpunk artist Adam Goren teaches chemistry and physics to Upper School students.
  • Shipley's Debate and Public speaking teacher, Mr. Chew, votes for the Oscars.
  • 2004 Shipley graduate, Katie Ermilio, is a fashion designer who was named one of Forbes' 30 under 30 and has had her collections featured in VOGUE and The Wall Street Journal.[25]
  • Former Major League Lacrosse MVP Kevin Crowley coaches lacrosse, soccer, and basketball at Shipley.
  • Shipley's Science Olympiad team has won multiple medals at the state level and in invitational competitions at Conestoga High School and The University of Pennsylvania. [26]

Notable Shipley graduates include:


  1. "The Shipley School: History". Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  2. "The Shipley School: History". Archived from the original on 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  3. Bell, Stephanie (2010-01-29). "Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future". The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas. 83 (2): 39–43. doi:10.1080/00098650903505415. ISSN 0009-8655.
  4. "The Shipley School: Mission". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  9. "The Shipley School: About Lower School". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  10. "The Shipley School: Stats at a Glance". Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  11. "The Shipley School: About Middle School". Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  12. "The Shipley School: Course Offerings Booklet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 29, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  13. "The Shipley School: About Upper School". Archived from the original on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  14. "The Shipley School: JV and Varsity Teams". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  15. "The Shipley School: Stats at a Glance". Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  16. "The Shipley School: Music Arts". Archived from the original on 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  17. "The Shipley School: Theater Arts". Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  18. "The Shipley School: Fall Plays". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  19. "The Shipley School: Shakespeare Plays". Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  20. "The Shipley School: Student Publications". Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  21. "The Shipley School News: Sprouts Excel at the Philadelphia Flower Show". Archived from the original on September 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  22. "The Shipley School: About Shipley Faculty". Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  23. "Shipley Stats at a Glance".
  24. "College Counseling Shipley School".
  25. "HOME".
  26. "". Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  27. Gensler, Howard (29 March 2016). "Shipley alumna Jessica Knoll says gang rape in her best-selling novel was real". Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  28. "Oxy2". Retrieved 2018-03-14.

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