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Welcome from Head of School

It’s loud at Calhoun.

When you look at Calhoun’s website—as I hope you will—you’ll learn a lot about the philosophy and practice that informs our progressive approach to education; you’ll meet our dedicated, diverse faculty, coaches and staff; and you’ll see lots of images of happy, lively students from age 2 through high school.

But you won’t hear the sounds.

I haven’t yet lost the sense of wonder that comes from walking through our unique ‘building without walls’ on 81st Street, taking in the sounds of students engaged in learning with all their senses. Giggles might erupt from one corner while music drifts over from another. In one area a teacher might be engaged in an intense discussion with a small group of students about the life cycle of brook trout, while in another students are buzzing amongst themselves trying to unravel a puzzle or a brainteaser. A group of Middle Schoolers might be heading out to the Museum of Natural History just four blocks away, while at the same time Upper Schoolers are returning from a service project with a community partner in our Upper West Side neighborhood. A fourth grader might stop me with a “Hi Steve” and proceed to tell me about what she’s reading in class. It’s a cacophony of joyous learning, and our website doesn’t begin to do it justice.

At our 85th Street home to our younger students, the sounds are somewhat different. In our large bright classrooms you might hear kindergartners vigorously debating how many seeds are in the pumpkin they're about to carve, while on a different floor, our second graders are discussing where the worms went after they turned over a log that morning in Central Park. Throughout you’ll hear the sounds of conversation – students with each other and with teachers they call by their first names – and of course, the sounds of laughter.

There’s so much I love about Calhoun that I think you’ll love as well – our commitment to educating students that value diversity and social justice, our wildly creative interdisciplinary projects that stress experiential learning at all grade levels, and our outstanding successes in college placement.But I really think you need to HEAR it to believe it. And so I hope that if you’re considering Calhoun for any of our divisions, you’ll come and visit and discover that incredible things happen when students love to learn.


Steven L. Solnick
Head of School


Steven L. Solnick has been Calhoun’s Head of School since 2017. Before joining  Calhoun, Steve was president of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Steve spent a decade as the Ford Foundation Representative in Moscow and then New Delhi. Before joining the Ford Foundation, he was associate professor of political science at Columbia University and served as coordinator for Russian Studies at the Harriman Institute. He is the author of Stealing the State: Control and Collapse in Soviet Institutions. 

S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1981; B.A., Oxford University, 1983; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1993