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Welcome from the Head

Welcome to San Francisco University High School! UHS is a community well-known for its challenging academic offerings and intellectual vitality. Our classrooms are full of diverse perspectives and spirited debate; our labs are spaces for collaborative discovery; and our studios, stages, and playing fields are arenas where we create and compete with passion and purpose. We believe that a lively academic culture, while the foundation of our mission, represents only one facet of an extraordinary school. Strong student and faculty relationships (supported by our one-of-a-kind mentoring program), a commitment to equity and inclusion, an intentional culture of peer support, and a history of public purpose (read about our ground-breaking Summerbridge program) are essential aspects of the UHS experience. The standards we set for ourselves are high, but the benefits of those aspirations are limitless in a school that believes in the promise of every student.

Over the past four years, we have been defining and shaping a shared vision and a set of core values that have become a guide to imagining our future. We assumed the bold position that a school with a reputation for excellence has not only the opportunity, but the responsibility, to reimagine what makes an outstanding school, one that emphasizes the transformational—rather than the transactional—power of these critical high school years.

UHS consistently engages in the national dialogue around teaching, learning, and assessment; technology; professional growth and development; diversity and equity; and adolescent development. We have been recognized as a leader by our California and national peers in inventing and designing culture-shifting programs that emanate from the research, experience, and ideas of those closest to it: our faculty. The connecting of our community and designing of programs, spaces, and practices, nurture an environment of inquiry, risk-taking, collaboration, and personal and intellectual growth for both students and teachers. That “catalytic context” was part of the original vision for UHS, and it remains a hallmark of our school today.

INQUIRY, INTEGRITY, AGENCY, CARE, and INTERCONNECTION—these core values serve as our north star as we strive to remain in a posture of growth and curiosity while supporting our students’ authentic relationship with their learning.

When I first arrived at UHS in 2013, the two words I used to describe what I was witnessing were “authentic engagement,” and those words are just as alive today. I trust our website conveys that authenticity and passion, as well as the palpable warmth and enthusiasm of our dynamic community of students, faculty, parents, and alumni. I hope that you’ll come for a visit and see our school in action. We look forward to showing you around campus and giving you insight into the unparalleled curriculum, programs, and joyful learning environment that we are so proud to offer.


Julia Russell Eells
Head of School

Julia Russell Eells

Julia Russell Eells, head of school at San Francisco University High School, is entering the 37th year of her career in independent education. Before moving to San Francisco, Julia was the head of school at Lincoln School in Providence, RI, from 2005–2013. During her tenure at Lincoln, she established the Center for Peace, Equity, and Justice Through Service to deepen the context of the school’s commitment to community service.

Julia earned her BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an MA from Wesleyan University, and has held teaching and administrative positions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY), the Ethel Walker School (CT), Miss Porter’s School (CT), and Westminster School (CT).

Julia was a member of the executive committee of the Board of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, and has served as a trustee on a number of independent school boards and non-profit educational organizations. She currently serves on the boards of The San Francisco School, Mastery Transcript Consortium, School Year Abroad, and the California Teacher Development Collaborative.