Far Hills Country Day School

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Far Hills Country Day School
Far Hills, NJ, (Somerset County) 07931
Motto A Balanced Education: Strength of Mind • Strength of Character
Established 1929
Head of school J. Thomas Woelper
Faculty 80% with Masters Degree or Higher
Grades Preschool - 8
Enrollment 440 (as of 2013)
Information 908-766-0622

Far Hills Country Day School (FHCDS) is a private, coeducational PreK-grade eight school located in Far Hills, New Jersey, one hour west of New York City. The school is situated on 54 acres (22 ha) that include learning gardens, computer labs, media centers, state-of-the-art performing arts center, large athletics center including a climbing wall, outdoor fields, tennis courts, a ropes challenge course, meadows, ponds, and woodlands.


FHCDS’ core curriculum provides a foundation in reading, writing, math and science. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are emphasized to promote a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Classrooms offer a unique combination of academic rigor, creative curriculum and innovative instructional differentiation providing a balanced approach that values academic excellence and character development.

Public speaking is an important part of the curriculum and is woven into all areas of school instruction. Students begin speaking with a microphone, in front of a group as early as kindergarten. By the time they graduate from eighth grade, they will have addressed a formal audience about 54 times. In kindergarten, the atmosphere for public speaking is very supportive and informal. In the upper grades, the process becomes more formal, and the topics more complex.

In addition to public speaking, children are taught manners—how to introduce themselves, greet others, maintain eye contact, say hello with a firm handshake, address elders with poise, confidence, and respect.


All students participate in physical education in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and in the interscholastic athletics program in sixth through eighth grade. The athletic program includes basketball, cross-country, cross-fit, fencing, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track, and volleyball.

Testing assessments[edit]

ERB Testing begins in third through eighth grade to benchmark students’ academic progress against other independent school students. In fourth and seventh grade, the Writing Assessment Program is used to provide a comprehensive and direct analysis of students' writing ability benchmarked against other independent school students. Upper School Students also take the SSAT, a standardized test used for secondary independent school admissions.

Mission Skills Assessment and Developing Strong Moral Character[edit]

Every classroom incorporates intentionally designed lessons and teachable moments to encourage the development of strong moral character and other nonacademic skills including teamwork, creativity, ethics, resilience, curiosity and time management. Because of the importance of these 21st-century skills, FHCDS is pioneering and utilizing cutting-edge methods of assessment that allow the school to measure and track progress in teaching these nonacademic, “noncognitive” skills not traditionally measured by standardized testing.[citation needed]

Working with ETS (Educational Testing Service, who developed the TOEFL iBT®, the GRE® and administers the College Board’s SAT and PSAT/NMSQT), one of the largest testing companies in America, FHCDS and 19 other independent schools have developed the Mission Skills Assessment (MSA), a groundbreaking assessment tool that as the first of its kind, gives schools the ability to test for previously “intangible” qualities.[citation needed] Schools will use the MSA to measure and improve their ability to teach these valuable life skills.[citation needed]

This innovative form of assessment is important and exciting because the test results will provide tangible and documented proof that these skills can be identified and intentionally developed.[citation needed] Moreover, the MSA results track improvement over time or note areas of deficiency, allowing schools to adjust curriculum to ensure proper character development.[citation needed]

FHCDS has taken a lead role in advancing the measurement of these heretofore “immeasurable” skills to ensure that its graduates are creative, innovative thinkers, collaborators and ethical leaders who not only have a solid academic foundation, but also the noncognitive skills that will carry them successfully through life.[citation needed]

This cutting-edge assessment measures “intangibles” like teamwork, creativity, ethics, resilience, curiosity and time management. In collaboration with Educational Testing Service (ETS), the leader in academic testing services for K-12, and the Elementary School’s Research Collaborative (ESRC), a consortium of twenty top independent schools, FHCDS is leading the pilot assessment program that measures essential skills for success in school and life.[citation needed]

Popular culture[edit]

When alumna Christine Todd Whitman appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy! in 2004, one of the beneficiaries was Far Hills Country Day School.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Trenner, Richard. "Playing, Singing, Speaking and 'Doing Politics'", The New York Times, November 15, 1998. Accessed April 18, 2008. "When a former kindergartner visits, he might be Nicholas Brady, former Senator and Secretary of the Treasury. Growing up at Hamilton Farm, his family's 5,000-acre (20 km2) estate encompassing parts of Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset counties, he spent six wonderful years at Far Hills Country Day. Four of his children and four of his grandchildren have followed him there."
  2. ^ a b Bumiller, Elisabeth. "POLITICS: ON THE TRAIL;In Political Quest, Forbes Runs in Shadow of Father", The New York Times, February 11, 1996. Accessed December 11, 2007. "Christine Todd, Mr. Forbes's childhood friend from the Far Hills Country Day school, would grow up to become Governor Whitman.... His son went off to the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., then on to Princeton, Malcolm Forbes's alma mater."
  3. ^ Hall of Honor, Far Hills Country Day School. Accessed April 18, 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°41′49″N 74°37′02″W / 40.697002°N 74.617161°W / 40.697002; -74.617161