Miss Porter's School

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Miss Porter's School
Puellae venerunt. Abíerunt mulieres.
Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Type Independent, boarding
Religious affiliation(s) none
Established 1843
Head of School Katherine G. Windsor
Faculty 60
Gender female
Enrollment 333 total
223 boarding
110 day
Average class size 11
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Campus 55-acre (220,000 m2) township campus
Color(s) Green and White         
Athletics 18 Interscholastic teams
Mascot Fighting Daisy (unofficial)
Average SAT scores 644 critical reading
631 math
645 writing (2012)
Endowment $100 million
Annual tuition $46,650 boarding
$36,850 day

Miss Porter's School (also known as Porter's, Farmington, or MPS) is a private college preparatory school for girls located in Farmington, Connecticut. It is a selective school that excels in academics and athletics. Its acceptance rate is 29% with an average Secondary School Admission Test score in the 89th percentile. It was named the number one girls' boarding school by U.S. News.

Porter's alumnae call themselves "Ancients".[1]



Sarah Porter, the founder of Miss Porter's School

Miss Porter's School was established in 1843 by education reformer Sarah Porter, who recognized the importance of women's education. She was insistent that the school's curriculum include chemistry, physiology, botany, geology, and astronomy in addition to the more traditional Latin, French, German, spelling, reading, arithmetic, trigonometry, history, and geography. Also encouraged were such athletic opportunities as tennis, horseback riding, and—in 1867—the school formed its very own baseball team, called the Tunxises.[2] In 1884, Sarah Porter hired her former student, Mary Elizabeth Dunning Dow, with whom she began to share more of her duties as Head of School. From then until her death in 1900, Miss Porter gradually relinquished her control of the school to Mrs. Dow.

Upon Sarah Porter's death in 1900, her will named her nephew Dr. Robert Porter Keep as executor of her estate, of which the school was the most valuable part. Mrs. Dow's compensation (for her position as sole Head of School) was also specified in the will. As executor, Dr. Keep began extensive repairs and renovations to the school. While Mrs. Dow continued to receive a salary, as Miss Porter's will had specified, she was convinced that Dr. Keep, in diverting the school's income to pay for construction, was enriching his inheritance with funds that were rightfully hers. The conflict escalated and culminated in Mrs. Dow's resignation in 1903. She moved to Briarcliff, New York, taking with her as many as 140 students and 16 faculty members, and began Mrs. Dow's School for Girls, which would come to be known as Briarcliff Junior College only to be absorbed by Pace University in 1977.[3][4][5]

A banner hanging in a themed guest room in the Timothy Cowles House, at Miss Porter's School, gives insight into how Porter's girls lived during the mid 1900s.

Dr. Keep announced, in July 1903, that the school would reopen in October of that year with his wife, Elizabeth Vashti Hale Keep, as Head of School, as it did with eleven teachers and between five and sixteen students in attendance. After Dr. Keep succumbed to pneumonia and died on July 3, 1904, Mrs. Keep continued his legacy of renovation and construction. Of her many legacies was her establishment of a kindergarten for children of her employees.[6] The kindergarten, on Garden Street, is now home to the Village Cooperative Nursery School, and is no longer connected with Miss Porter's School. When Mrs. Keep died of influenza on March 28, 1917, leadership of the school passed to her stepson, Robert Porter Keep, Jr., who moved to Farmington from Andover, Massachusetts where he had been teaching German at Phillips Academy. From 1917 until the school's Centennial, in 1943, he and his wife, RoseAnne Day Keep, remained Heads of School at Miss Porter's.[7][3]

Mr. Keep appointed members to the first Board of Trustees including:

Not until the school's Centennial, in 1943, was the school incorporated as a non-profit institution. Only then did the school dismiss its reputation as a finishing school and shepherd in a new reputation as a college preparatory school.[3] This year also ended the tradition of choosing a successive Head of School from the Porter's family tree. Chosen to take the school into its second century were Ward L. Johnson and his wife Katharine.[3]

On Sunday, June 12, 1994, Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement address, reminding the graduating class, which included her niece Chrishaunda Lee, that "[t]here is no success without joy."[8]

Oprah Winfrey modeled her Leadership Academy for Girls after Porter's.[9]


Classes at Porter's are held Monday through Friday, although Wednesday is a half day. Porter's has a student-to-teacher ratio of about 8:1. Like many American boarding schools, Porter's utilizes a style of teaching similar to the Harkness Method, wherein students and teachers sit around an oval table, in all its discussion-based humanities courses.

Students are required to take courses in the arts, computer science, English, ethical leadership, history, modern or classical languages, mathematics, and science.[10] Typically, students take a total of five to six units of credit per semester.[10]

On May 19, 2011, the Online School for Girls announced that Miss Porter's School and School of the Holy Child in Rye, New York had become consortium members.[11] Three Porter's faculty members are currently listed as teachers on the OSG website.[12]

Porter's is a member of the Center for the Study of Boys' and Girls' Lives.[13]

Porter's has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania's Master's in Teaching program.[14]

Notable faculty[edit]

  • Director of Music Karl Klauser, music teacher and composer, taught at the school from 1855 to 1895[3][15][16]
  • Head of the Art Department Robert B. Brandegee, an American Impressionist, taught at the school from 1880 to 1903. Returning to the United States, Brandegee rented a New York studio that he kept for fifteen years. However, he soon moved to Farmington and in 1881 became head of the art department at Miss Porter's School for Girls. Primarily an art teacher, Brandegee exhibited rarely during his career. He was the founder and instructor at the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford and was a central figure in the local artistic community.[16][17]
  • Miss Porter's School's Associate Director of Admission Tricia Davol was selected as a Cannady Visiting Teacher to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Ms. Davol, who began her tenure at Porter’s as a Spanish teacher, was one of two educators selected for this program in 2012.[18]

Off-campus study[edit]

A student in her third year at Porter's may choose to participate in the following programs:


Tuition and financial aid[edit]

Miss Porter's offers need-based financial aid as well as a variety of merit scholarships. The school reports that, for the 2011–12 school year, roughly 34 percent of the student body receives some form of financial aid, with a total of over $3.3 million in aid awarded.[19]

Oprah Scholars[edit]

The school regularly awards five students with a full scholarship, endowed by the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which includes tuition, room and board, travel, a laptop, and other miscellaneous expenses. Biographer Kitty Kelley wrote regarding Oprah's connection to the school:

Oprah had been so impressed by the change in her niece after Chrishaunda attended Miss Porter's School that she established the Oprah Winfrey Prep School Scholars, and through the years contributed more than $2 million to scholarships.[20]

On November 12, 2011, Oprah Scholar Ayanna Hall '11 presented Oprah Winfrey with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Governors Awards ceremony in Hollywood, California.[21][22]


As of late 2007, the school's endowment was estimated at $100 million. It reportedly dropped 12% to settle at $88 million during the economic downturn, but has recently gained over $12 million in unrestricted assets during "the largest fundraising campaign in the school's history," which was concluded as of June 30, 2011.[23] The school currently reports its endowment as $100 million.[24]

Campus facilities[edit]

Academic facilities[edit]

  • The Main building, the front door of which is depicted on the school seal, was built in 1830 as the Union Hotel on Main Street. Originally intended to serve patrons of the nearby Farmington Canal, it was rented by Sarah Porter in 1848 until her purchase on April 19, 1866.[25][26] To this day, the building continues to house the school's dining facility, several administrative offices, and a small dormitory for first year boarding students.
  • The M. Burch Tracy Ford Library, as the newest academic facility on campus is named for the school's eleventh Head of School and houses over 22,000 volumes, electronic books, magazines, journals, newspapers in addition to a collection of 1,308 academic and entertainment DVDs and videos. The building also houses a computer lab and eight study rooms.[27]
  • The Hamilton building, formerly a dorm, is home to the English and History departments. Named for the Hamilton sisters, namely Alice and Edith.
The Olin Arts and Science Center
  • The Olin Arts and Science Center is home to the schools Science, Mathematics, and Visual Arts Departments. Designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes and built in 1976, the Olin Arts and Science Center was endowed by the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation in 1977 to honor three members of the Olin family who have graduated from the school. In 1997, renovations and the construction of an extensive addition to this building, designed by architect Tai Soo Kim, were completed. Renovations to the existing structure provided the community with a painting and ceramics studio, each with 25-foot (7.6 m) ceilings and 500 feet (150 m) of windows; a computer art lab with the most current programs and equipment; a multi-media studio for jewelry and textiles; and a photography studio and dark room. The addition, connected to the existing structure by a glass corridor, includes science labs, a greenhouse, a number of computer labs. The completion of this project earned the architect an AIA Connecticut Design Citation.[28]
  • The Leila Dilworth Jones '44 Memorial building was formerly the school's library but later converted into the school's language department. It is equipped with "a state-of-the-art language laboratory and classrooms for foreign language instruction," which include, but are not limited to, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Latin.[29][30]
  • The Barbara Lang Hacker Theater is home to the Theater department and the Players Mandolin Performance Troupe (PMPT).
The Kate Lewis Gym
  • The Kate Lewis Gym, once the gymnasium and later the theater, now houses the Music department and includes a performance hall, faculty and administrative offices, and rehearsal rooms.[26] This building also serves as the rehearsal space for the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra.[31]

Athletic facilities[edit]

  • The Student Recreation Center, designed by Tai Soo Kim[32] and built in 1991, includes the Wean Student Center (a gift of the Raymond John Wean Foundation), the skylit Crisp Gymnasium with an elevated running track, a weight and exercise room, an athletic training room, and four outdated squash courts which have since been converted into an Erg room, a free weight room, and a climbing wall.
  • The Mellon Gymnasium, designed by Maxwell Moore and built in 1962 as part of the theater-gymnasium complex, was a gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. It is home to Varsity Badminton in the fall, JV and Thirds Basketball in the winter, and is the designated indoor practice space for Varsity and JV Softball in the spring.
  • The Gaines Dance Barn, built c. 1930 and remodeled in 1993, is the 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) facility that serves as both rehearsal and performance space for Dance Workshop as well as for all dance classes. In March 1998, the facility was acoustically treated following complications stemming from the 1993 remodel. This treatment included the installation of acoustic wall panelling and a suspended JBL-based audio system. This 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) dance studio, with its generous natural light, sound system, and sprung floor, ranks among the best for secondary schools.[33][34]
  • The Pool & Squash Building was designed and built by StanMar Inc. in 2007.[35] As the newest athletic facility on campus, it contains an eight-lane, 25-yard (23 m) pool and eight international squash courts. Its nickname, the "Cool House," was coined by Theater Director Mr. Eric Ort, as a combination of terms "Court" and "Pool House."
  • The Farmington Boat House, a cold storage boathouse on the nearby Farmington River, is home to the Varsity and JV Crew teams of both Miss Porter's and Farmington High School, shared in a unique public-private relationship.[36] The program is equipped with six Vespoli fours, a pair/double and three recreational singles.[37]
  • Lower Kiki's Field is home to Varsity Soccer in the fall and Varsity Lacrosse in the spring. Upper Kiki's Field is home to JV and Thirds Soccer in the fall and JV and Thirds Lacrosse in the spring. Named in memory of Helene Kinnucan Brown '53 by her family, classmates, and friends.
  • The Riding Ring Field at Mountain Road is home to Varsity Field Hockey in the fall and Ultimate in the spring.
  • The Cowbarn Field is home to the Varsity and JV Softball teams in the spring and the JV Field Hockey in the fall.
  • 7 deco-turf tennis courts

Other facilities[edit]

Counting House
The "Studio"
  • The Colgate Health Center, historically known as the "Edward Whitman House," was built c. 1850 for Erastus and Grace (Cowles) Gay, purchased by Elizabeth V. Keep in 1916, and left to the school upon her death. Once a dorm, now this building features the school health center and faculty housing.[38]
  • Weekend House, built by and for Julius Gay in 1878, was left to the school by his daughter, Florence Gay, upon her death in 1952. The building now houses the school's Alumnae/Development Office.
  • Counting House, once used to house the school's Music Department, is now the Business Office.
  • The Studio, built in 1885, in honor of Miss Porter by her alumnae, as the school's art studio. Prior to 1885, Miss Porter rented space at 24 Mountain Road for use as the school's studio.[39] Later used to house the school's history department, the Studio building is now used as faculty housing.[3]
  • School House, built in 1849 for the Farmington Female Seminary, was rented by Sarah Porter until her purchase in 1885. In 1951, this building was remodeled according to plans by architect Richard A. Kimball, for use as a science building.[40] The building now houses the school's daycare facility.
  • The Timothy Cowles House, more commonly referred to as "Timco," built in 1815 for Major Timothy Cowles and since enlarged (c. 1900), was acquired by the school in 1955.[41] It now serves as faculty housing and houses the school archives.
  • The Horse Barn was used for student horses until 1969. It is currently used as a garage for school maintenance vehicles.


West Side[edit]

  • Brick House, or "Brick" as it's known to the school community, was built in 1840 for Francis Cowles, purchased in 1889 by Sarah Porter, and left to the school upon her death.[42] Brick is known as one of the dorms in which Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis resided.
  • Cottage, like Main, has traditionally been a student residence reserved for 9th grade boarding students. The 2008–09 academic year saw Cottage transformed into a single-family faculty residence. Its status as a student residence has only recently been restored.
  • Ward House, or "Ward" as it's known to the school community, was built c. 1842 for Susan and Augustus Ward, purchased by Sarah Porter in 1891, and left to the school upon her death.[43]

East Side[edit]

  • Colony House, or simply "Colony," was built c. 1799 for Jonathan Cowles. This three-story Federal style mansion was acquired by the school in 1908, has since undergone several renovations, and is home to students in their senior year. It became known as "Colony", as it was the first offshoot from the mother country, "Main", which has always been the center of school life.[26][44]
  • Humphrey House, built c. 1800 by Gad Cowles as a private residence, is a Federal style building that is home to students in their senior year. Named for its inhabitants between the years of 1854 and 1881, namely Milton Humphrey, it was originally purchased and enlarged for the school by Mrs. Elizabeth V. Keep in 1915. Humphrey is known as the dorm in which Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis resided, during her senior year, with "life-long friend" Nancy Ludlow Tuckerman, who later served as White House Social Secretary during Jackie's time as First Lady.[45][46]
  • Lathrop House, built in 1841 as a private residence for Harriet Cowles upon her marriage to Charles Thompson, was acquired by the school in 1889.
  • Porter-Keep House, or "Keep" as it is known to the school community, was built in 1844 for John Edward Cowles and passed down until it was sold to RoseAnne (Day) Keep and her husband and Head of School, Robert Porter-Keep, who left it to the school upon his death in 1967. The house underwent extensive remodeling, as it was converted into a dorm, for a year beginning September 1968.[47]
  • New Place, built c. 1906, remains the only dormitory designed specifically for that purpose.


Interscholastic sports[edit]





Porter's competes in the Founders League with Choate Rosemary Hall, Hotchkiss, Kent, Kingswood-Oxford, Loomis Chaffee, Taft and Westminster schools. (Avon Old Farm and Trinity Pawling are both in the founder's league but both schools are all boy's school so, MPS don't compete against them)At the end of each season, Porter’s competes against the league’s most competitive teams in the New England Championships.[48][49] Porter's archrival is Ethel Walker's.


In 1997, the Crew Team ranked 1st in the New England Championships.[50] In 2010, the varsity volleyball team defeated Convent of the Sacred Heart to become the 2010 New England School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class B Champions.[51]

In 2009, the Varsity Crew Team placed fourth in the New England Championships.[50] In 2012, the Varsity Squash and Basketball teams each placed fourth in the New England Championships.

Student life[edit]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Porter's offers a variety of different extracurricular clubs and organizations, of varying degrees of commitment and function in a given school year. At the beginning of each school year, one night is designated for students to learn about each club and for each club to register new members. The Salmagundy is the school's student run monthly newspaper. Only recently has the paper become an online publication. The school's social service club, Concordia, and Daeges Eage, the school's yearbook, have long been a part of MPS.

Also important to the school's history are the Perilhettes, the senior singing group; and Haggis/Baggis, and Chautauqua, the school's magazines for creative and expository writing, respectively.

Residential life[edit]

Most Porter's girls live in dormitories, all but one of which are former Farmington private residences left to the school. Each dormitory has a house director. "Their doors are always open, and they often invite students into their apartments for snacks, movies, and group discussions."[52]


School Seal[edit]

Miss Porter's has two chief symbols: a seal depicting the front door of Main, with the school motto etched to each side, and a newer simpler logo with "Porter's" and "Farmington". This logo was introduced by communications officials in an effort to combat the school's common misperception as a finishing school.

The image of the front door of Main on the school seal is intended to reinforce the accompanying school motto, Puellae venerunt. Abíerunt mulieres. (Latin 'They come as girls. They leave as women.') as the door through which girls enter and exit the school.

School colors[edit]

School colors include green, white, and yellow. Old Girl colors have traditionally been grey and yellow.

Notable alumnae[edit]

Other academic programs[edit]

Summer programs[edit]

The summer programs, offered to girls entering grades 7 through 9, provide access to most of Porter's facilities and staff:

  • The Sarah Porter Leadership Institute Level I offers girls the opportunity to "learn, practice and hone" their problem solving, quick thinking, teamwork and trust skills.
  • The Sarah Porter Leadership Institute Level II gives those who have attended Level I of the program the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills. This program includes an off campus camping and rafting trip, which test the skills and responsibilities that come with those activities.
  • The Porter's Junior Model U.N. is "designed to teach students about civics, current events, effective communication, and global perspective through engaging and interactive lessons and exercises." The program concludes with a "two-day Model UN-style conference" on campus.[78]


Joseph Rajkumar[edit]

Miss Porter's was rocked with scandal in 2013 when it was revealed that Joseph Rajkumar, a physics teacher and coach for several of Miss Porter's sports teams, had been sexually assaulting students. He had shown inappropriate photos and had inappropriate contact with five students, and non-consensual sexual relations with one. He was convicted and is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence. [79]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°43′21″N 72°49′46″W / 41.72250°N 72.82944°W / 41.72250; -72.82944