A Message from the Principal

Fieldston’s upper school offers a progressive, dynamic, and transformative array of academic, intellectual, and co-curricular opportunities. We believe that preparing our students for the local and global context they will spend the rest of their lives in requires cultivating habits of mind like ethical citizenship and independent thought. These habits of mind inform how students engage not only our robust curriculum, but how they engage with, learn from, and respect one another.

Students earn increasing opportunities to choose courses that they are passionate about as they progress from 9th grade through the 12th grade. As early as the 10th grade, students may apply to take an Interdisciplinary Humanities course that integrates English, history, and ethics. Perusing the course catalog each semester reveals a stunning number of electives in the arts, ethics/service learning, English, history, science, math, foreign language, and computer science.

Leadership opportunities are manifest in some of the school’s traditional themes connected to exploring environmental and human sustainability, community building, and global awareness. Given the culture and values of the school, it is essential that our students understand that they are co-creators and decisions makers in what our academic, athletic, and co-curricular program looks like. Students engage in these leaderly moments by serving on the Curriculum Committee with department chairs, taking part in various task forces, and planning and teaching 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 New York. They serve on a committee that selects the year’s summer reading book — this year’s selection is The Leavers by Lucy Ko. In these and many other ways, students are encouraged to find and express their voices.

Course content, while challenging, is made that much more meaningful given the elegant design of the learning experiences conceptualized by this accomplished faculty. The creativity, commitment, and passion of the faculty at Fieldston truly propels our students to a level of academic and intellectual achievement that inspires both faculty and students alike. The strong, often life-long, bonds that students form with faculty and with their fellow students serve as prerequisite to the enduring vision of philosopher, humanist and Founder of Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Felix Adler. He presciently imagined a school committed to the notion of developing “individuals who are competent to change their environment in greater conformity with moral ideals.” That vision is as important today as it was in 1878.

You may be wondering, what kind of person will my child become at Fieldston? What kind of learning will they do? To realize Felix Adler’s vision, your children will hopefully learn how to make mistakes--and reflect on why they made the mistakes they did. They will learn that if they misstep, they will have an opportunity to make amends. They will learn that there is honor and integrity when they sign their name. They will learn that someone — a teacher, an advisor, or maybe a good friend — is often looking out for them. They will learn the value of thinking equitably and inclusively. They will learn to be empathetic to ideas differing from their own. They will learn to seek simple, elegant questions, but to mistrust simple, undemanding answers. They will learn how to change their minds based on new evidence or reinterpreted old evidence. Most of all, they will learn about themselves.

Welcome to Fieldston.

Nigel D. Furlonge
Principal, Fieldston Upper