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School Leadership




A Message from our Head of School 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to The Avery Coonley School website. Developing a deep sense of community has been a hallmark of The Avery Coonley School for over a century. It is our hope that this website will serve as another tool in building a strong community by enabling us to better communicate with our current and future families, alumni, friends and supporters.

In 1906, Mrs. Coonley set out to create a learning experience for her daughter that would focus on her needs, interests, and experiences. Mrs. Coonley envisioned a community of children who not only learn together but learn by doing. The Avery Coonley School has remained true to the ideas and ideals of its founder: collaborative learning, balanced and integrated curriculum, and teachers focused on the needs, interests, and experiences of each child.

At ACS, we are dedicated to our unique mission – providing a stimulating and engaging environment created specifically for academically bright and gifted children. Imagine your child thriving in a community of like-minded peers, immersed in a curriculum that provides the depth, pace, and complexity she craves. Picture the leading-edge technology and comprehensive arts curriculum that enrich and support her learning. And envision her being mentored by a faculty dedicated to her special academic and social-emotional needs. If you can "see” all of these possibilities, then you can begin to understand The Avery Coonley School experience: a unique blend of tradition and innovation, acceleration and enrichment, community and individuality.

While this website offers a glimpse of our unique traditions, specialized curriculum, and engaging extra-curricular programs, no website can completely capture the dynamic environment that defines this school. If you are intrigued by this virtual visit, please feel free to contact our Director of Admission, Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, for more information.

Best wishes,
Paul Druzinsky
Head of School

2021-2022 ACS Board of Trustees


Alumni Representative
Shilpa Gokhale '94

Honorary Trustees
Peter Doris, MD
John Grube
Leslie Hindman '68
Catherine Slark


Shilpa has been involved with the Avery Coonley School for many years: first as a student, then as a member (and later President) of the Alumni Council, and now as a member of the Board of Trustees. Her experiences as a student at Avery Coonley instilled in her the belief that a love of learning carries through a person's life and that the culture and community of Avery Coonley nurtures this love. She attended Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Pritkzer School of Law, and Kellogg. During her career, she has taught elementary school through Teach for America, worked in higher education, and practiced law in both New York and Chicago. During her spare time, Shilpa likes to watch Jeopardy, travel with friends, and spend time with her niece and nephew.