Ethical Culture Fieldston School offers a world-class progressive education in grades Pre-K–12 at two historic campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx. The core of our educational program is the study and practice of ethics, which prepares us — and compels us — to take care of our world, ourselves, and each other.
For more detail on our educational program, read about the core tenets that guide our faculty.
Felix Adler’s educational vision is as important today as it was when the Ethical Culture Fieldston School was founded in 1878. To continue to realize that vision, we embrace the following ideals:
Ethical Learning: The exploration of what it means to be an ethical and responsible member of society forms the core of our curriculum and our school community. We value inclusion as well as economic and racial diversity. We honor all of our students for their unique contributions, cultural backgrounds, and beliefs. As we consider service to be critical to the development of character, we incorporate community service into our students' school experiences from the earliest grades.
Academic Excellence: Our school achieves academic excellence by challenging students to reach their highest potential in body, mind, and spirit through the humanities, the sciences, the arts, and physical education. Students become active learners and engage in vital discourse in a community of dedicated teachers and an atmosphere of intellectual discipline and creativity.
Progressive Education: Through a curriculum rooted in the tenets of progressive education, students become independent thinkers as they learn that asking their own questions and seeking their own answers are key to the deepest kind of understanding. Cooperative, student-centered, discussion-based learning and the freedom to make mistakes are part of our students’ everyday lives.
With an enduring commitment to excellence in progressive education, we inspire a diverse and joyful community of passionate learners, critical thinkers, and ethical individuals who aim to make the world more humane and just.
ECFS is a community in partnership — we aspire to transparency and collaboration in all that we do. The administrative council is a group that leads the conversation about our priorities and helps guide the steps we take as a school.
Jessica L. Bagby, Head of School Jonathan Alschuler, Interim Principal, Fieldston Middle Lauren Coulston, Director of Communications Rob Cousins, Principal, Ethical Culture Jeannie Crowley, Director of Technology Liz Fernández, Assistant Head of School for Ethical Education and Social Impact Nigel Furlonge, Principal, Fieldston Upper Charles Guerrero ’89, Director of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Institutional Research Chris Harper, Chief Financial Officer & Director of Human Resources Joe McCauley, Principal, Fieldston Lower Gus Ornstein ’94, Athletic Director Sarah Wendt, Chief Philanthropy Officer Kyle Wilkie-Glass, Chief Operating Officer & Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives
As Trustees, we have a shared role in the leadership of our school as strategic partners to the Head of School, with clear lines between governance and management. Our primary responsibilities are to set policy, monitor the functions of the school, and collaborate with the Head of School to steward the financial health of the school, ensuring that the necessary resources are in place to further the mission and vision and achieve strategic priorities.
Among us are alumni, parents, faculty, leaders of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, and Honorary Trustees who act in the undivided interest of the school to carry out the mission both today and into the future with integrity, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Jessica L. Bagby, Ex-officio William Baker, Society Representative Susan Sarnoff Bram ’81, Advancement Co-Chair Margot Bridger Eunu Chun Rosalind Clay Carter, DEI & Education Co-Chair Kenneth Glassman, Vice-Chair, Audit & Risk Management Co-Chair Andrew Holm ’01, Treasurer, Finance Chair Hazel Hunt, Faculty Representative Tal Kaissar, Compensation Chair Nick Kaplan ’88, Fieldston Alumni Network (FAN) Chair Jesse Klausz, Faculty Representative Meghan Mackay, Vice-Chair, DEI & Education Co-Chair Marti Meyerson Kathleen O’Connell, Society Representative Stan Parker Miriam Paterson, Faculty Representative Jonathan M. Rozoff, Governance Chair Bree Sheahan, P+T Chair Liz Singer, Society President Kim Smith Spacek ’91, Board Chair, Investment Chair Emily Tisch Sussman ’00 Margot Tenenbaum, Faculty Representative Krishna Veeraraghavan, Secretary, Audit & Risk Management Co-Chair Rielly Vlassis Stephanie Wagner, Advancement Co-Chair Jeff Walker, Executive Committee Advisor
Tracy Chutorian Semler ’82 Charles Debrovner G. Angela Henry ’75 Samuel C. Florman ’42 Nina P. Freedman ’73 James A. Gara ’72, Society Representative Laura Jacobs Blankfein ’71 Anne Klaeysen, Society Leader Emerita Sara E. Nathan ’71 Robert A. Pruzan ’81 Paul T. Schnell ’72 Caryn Seidman Becker S. Donald Sussman Judith D. Wallach ’49
The school we know today as the Ethical Culture Fieldston School was founded in 1878 by Felix Adler to ensure that all children would have access to an education. Then known as the Workingman's School, it emphasized moral education, psychological development, and integration of the creative and manual arts with academics — key components of what we now know as progressive education.
In 1895, the Workingman’s School became the Ethical Culture School and its management passed to the governing board of the Ethical Culture Society. In 1899, the school established a secondary program.
In 1904, the Ethical Culture School constructed a new building at 33 Central Park West, which currently houses the Ethical Culture division, one of our two elementary programs. By the mid‐1920s, the school had outgrown its quarters and sought to expand its vision for both primary and secondary education. In 1928, we opened a beautiful wooded campus in the Bronx.
In 1995, the New York Society for Ethical Culture voted to set up the school as its own legal entity with a self-governing board of trustees.
Our current head of school, Jessica L. Bagby, began her tenure in the summer of 2016.