Welcome from the Head
University High School was founded on the principles of equity and excellence, coupled with public purpose. These core principles are as true today as they were back in 1975 when the School first opened its doors and in 1978 when UHS created the groundbreaking Summerbridge program. I was drawn to UHS because of its commitment to creating a sense of belonging for every individual in the community - students, faculty, staff, families, and alumni as well as its tireless commitment to foster, as our mission states, “the spirited pursuit of knowledge” in the care of talented, dedicated, and motivated teachers who place the student at the center of the learning process.
The bar is high at UHS, and the ladder to get there is filled with many rungs of support and care through our one of a kind, nationally recognized mentor program that pairs each student with a trusted adult and peer group to help nurture and sustain student well-being and the ability to thrive. The mentor program is a key component of an intentional culture dedicated to creating a sense of belonging at UHS. Our Equity and Community statement underscores this commitment: “At UHS, we believe that the deepest learning requires collaboration among people who embody a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and perspectives.”
The students at UHS are able to create and invent new pathways through our extensive and rich independent study program, which enables students to partner with a faculty member to dig deep into a subject matter. At the same time, students are emboldened by their teachers and peers in the rich and varied four-year course of study, finding their voices as students and people ready to make an impact in the world. Students drive their learning through the academic and co-curricular experience they choose to design in partnership with skillful, transformational educators. Student agency matched with our other core values of care, integrity, inquiry, and interconnection create an intellectual and academic runway that leads to personal transformation in the classrooms, on the stages, in the studios, and across the athletic playing fields.
UHS is a school with passion and purpose, just like the diverse, talented, and motivated high school students who fill and enrich our community. We are dedicated to envisioning a bold future where students are “challenged to live a life of integrity, inquiry, and purpose larger than the self,” as our mission declares. The opportunity to educate high school students, right as they are at the cusp of young adulthood, takes the skill and expertise of our extraordinary faculty, who prize the chance to get to know and help each student reach their full potential. This is not a straight or easy path, and we know that, which is why we have taken decades to refine and redefine the high school experience. We will never waver in our promise to grow and evolve alongside our students.
When you step onto the UHS campus, I know that you will be greeted by the buzz and joy of learning and community, in the same way I am when I walk through campus. We look forward to welcoming you to UHS!
Head of School
Matt Levinson and his wife, Priyanthi Alahendra, are lifelong independent school educators who have devoted their lives and careers to educating young people, building and strengthening community connection, cultivating a sense of inclusion and belonging, and developing innovative programs. Matt was born in Bethesda, Maryland. The greatest influences in his life are his mother and father, who have helped shape him into the person and educator he is today. His mother is a professional artist and imbued in Matt an early appreciation for creativity. At the same time, his father was a lawyer and law professor, infusing a commitment to the importance of language, history, and social justice. Matt was an avid athlete in high school and college, where he played soccer at Haverford College and majored in history, combining his twin loves of athletics and academics. He later earned his M.A. in Social Studies Education from Teachers’ College, Columbia University.
Matt began his career at Princeton Day School in New Jersey, where he served in various roles, including middle and upper school history teacher, grade level dean, department chair, and coaching the girls’ and boys’ varsity soccer teams. Matt’s 14 years in the classroom set a strong foundation for his leadership approach grounded in student belonging, growth, and wellness.
Matt served in senior leadership roles at some of the country’s top independent day schools. He made his first move to the Bay Area in 2007 when he became the Assistant Head of School and Middle School Director at the Nueva School. He then joined his wife, Priyanthi, a first-grade teacher at Marin Country Day School, where he served as Assistant Head of School and Head of the Upper Division. At both schools, he helped to lead strategic initiatives, a passion for Matt throughout his career.
Matt is an experienced head of school, leading both University Prep in Seattle, Washington, and The Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. At both schools, he helped to lead strategic work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, promote student support and wellness, and develop innovative academic programs to best meet the needs of all students.
Matt and Priyanthi are excited to return to the Bay Area, along with their two college-age children, Sanjay and Maya, and their dog Avi. The Levinson/Alahendra family will join the UHS community July 2022.