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 Chia-Chee Chiu, 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, Director of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Institutional Research Joe McCauley, Principal, Fieldston Lower Betsy McIntyre, Interim Chief Advancement Officer Gus Ornstein, Athletic Director Sarah Danzig Simon, Assistant Head of School for Institutional Affairs Kyle Wilkie-Glass, Chief Operating Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer
The board of trustees is the school’s main governing body, responsible for the long-term sustainability of the institution. Through its various committees, the board provides expertise and guidance, while also helping to ensure that we are staying true to our mission.
Jessica L. Bagby, ex-officio Caryn Seidman Becker, chair Susan Sarnoff Bram ’81, secretary Margot Bridger Rosalind Clay Carter Samantha Dascher ’06 Elizabeth Flores Ken Glassman, treasurer Andrew Holm ’01 Stacey Husted Khary Lazarre-White ’91 Margaret Munzer Loeb ’90 Tal Kaissar Henryka Komanska Meghan Mackay Marti Meyerson Clare Mottola Josh Nash Kathleen O’Connell Jonathan M. Rozoff Josh Silverman Liz Singer Orin Snyder ’79, vice-chair Kim Smith Spacek ’91, vice-chair Emily Tisch Sussman ’00 Margot Tenenbaum Rielly Vlassis Stephanie Wagner Jeff Walker
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.