From the Head of School

Welcome to The Harvey School!

As head of The Harvey School, one of my primary roles is to serve as the school’s chief storyteller. While statistics and data are certainly important indicators of a school’s success, I believe that the best way to come to understand Harvey is through the stories we share. 
Head of School Bill Knauer talking with students.

One story I often tell is of an educator from another school who came to Harvey for a visit. After meeting with a group of students, she pulled me aside and shared how impressed she was with the Harvey community and our focus on creating a personalized experience for each student.

She was particularly struck by the way one student succinctly described her own impression of the school, “Harvey is preparing me to become the person that I want to be.” This student’s observation captures the essence of the educational environment we create for our students at Harvey, an approach we refer to as Rigor with Heart.


As a college preparatory school, we have an obligation to provide a rich, challenging academic program with breadth and depth, which we do. But that is not enough. As research proves, and the impact of the pandemic has starkly illustrated, the environment in which students learn is a crucial component of their long-term success and well-being. 

Students learn better in diverse, inclusive communities built on trust, mutual respect, and kindness. At Harvey we support our students and encourage them to pursue their passions, discover new interests, find their voices, and build deep and meaningful relationships. Harvey is a student-centered school where we value and celebrate the many faces of excellence without driving our students to chase the unforgiving specter of perfection, which discourages students from taking intellectual and creative risks. Ultimately, we want them to find joy in learning as they discover their own places in a community where they can thrive.

At the heart of the Harvey experience is a collection of talented, dedicated educators, who guide, challenge, and support students in their journeys to become their best selves. Whether in the classroom, on the sports field, or in the art studio, our teachers connect with students, inspire them, and cultivate in them true intellectual curiosity and a profound love of learning. We also recognize that families play a critical role in the education of children and the life of a school, which is why we encourage parents and guardians to partner with us as well for the benefit of our students and our community.

Another story comes to mind that illustrates the role Harvey plays in students’ lives. Last year in the midst of the pandemic, I was outside greeting students in the morning as I normally do, and I was particularly pleased to see one of our seniors returning to school after a 14-day quarantine. As he walked up the drive, I welcomed him back to campus and asked how he was. He looked me in the eyes and replied, “I will never take this place for granted again.”

Thank you for your interest in The Harvey School. I hope that you will come visit us in person, where you can experience first hand our warm, engaged, and vibrant community. I look forward to welcoming you to Harvey and sharing with you more stories of this special place!

Kind regards,

William J. Knauer
Head of School
Parent, Class of 2023

Three Upper School boys smiling and giving thumbs up

Meet Bill Knauer

Bill Knauer with hockey stick at Evarts Rink

When The Harvey School began its second hundred years, it did so with a new head of school, William J. Knauer, who joined the community in 2016. Described by the school’s search committee as “a leader of deep understanding, creativity, and vision,” Bill has worked in independent and international schools for more than 30 years. 

Bill graduated from the University of Michigan in 1985 with a BA in Linguistics, and he holds two Masters Degrees, one from Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English and the other from Trenton State College in Teaching English and EAL. He also has a certification from Columbia University in Systems Analysis and a Diploma de Cultura from the University of Madrid.

Bill began his career in education as a student teacher at the Khartoum American School in Sudan before moving to the Munich International School, where he taught IB English and English as an Additional Language (EAL). After four years in Germany, Bill returned to the United States and joined the faculty at the Riverdale Country School in New York, where he taught middle and high school English before taking on the role of educational technology specialist. From Riverdale, he and his wife and daughter moved to Brooklyn, NY, where he became the director of technology and head of computer science at the Packer Collegiate Institute. After five years in that role, Bill was promoted to assistant head of school at Packer. From there Bill became the head of the Benjamin Franklin International School, a co-ed day school in Barcelona, Spain. In 2016, he returned to New York to become Harvey’s seventh head of school. His wife, Eileen, works as a learning specialist at an area independent school, and his daughter, Emiliana, is a member of The Harvey School Class of 2023.

When Bill is not at work, he likes to travel, hike, read, train in martial arts, and play hockey with our alumni!

About Us

Aerial photo of Sylvan Hall 2021