A Message from the Principal

Choice is central to life in Fieldston’s upper school. We offer a rich and challenging set of course offerings from which students can choose. It includes an Interdisciplinary Humanities course in the 10th grade that integrates English, history, and ethics and an unmatched number of electives in the arts, ethics/service learning, English, history, science, math, foreign language, and computer science. Behind these courses is a creative faculty who are passionate about what they teach, eager to make students explorers of their subjects, and ready to form strong and enduring relationships with their students. Opportunities for interdisciplinary and experiential education are continually being created and give our program a special flavor.

In the upper school, we encourage students to take intellectual risks and to step outside their comfort zone. Within the choices students make, we are committed to educating the whole child, developing leadership potential, and fostering ethical learning. We value academic integrity, depth of knowledge and understanding, independent thinking, and mindfulness. Themes of sustainability, community building, and global awareness permeate the upper school culture.

Upper school students are given many opportunities to take ownership of their education and to challenge stereotypes. For example, a student can choose to be identified as an athlete, a visual or performing artist, and a scholar—all three! Upper school students are involved in program planning and decision-making. They serve on the Curriculum Committee with department chairs and on various task forces. They plan and teach ethics courses in the middle school. They organize and facilitate our weekly assemblies on topics such as gender roles, sexual orientation, social justice, and neuroscience. They create service-learning projects throughout the city. They serve on a committee that selects the summer reading book. In these and many other ways, students are encouraged to find and express their voices—and to have fun in the process.

Two progressive programs that help define the upper school and give students a unique opportunity for student-directed learning are Independent Studies and Senior Projects. Independent studies have focused on topics such as music and social change, the history of minority women, the neuroscience of brain disorders, and personal finances. Senior projects have included writing and performing a full-length play, learning sign language, writing an environmental children’s book, and mapping subway microbes in New York City. If these are the kinds of experiences that excite you, I invite you to take a closer look at Fieldston Upper.

Robert J. Cairo
Principal, Fieldston Upper