Ethical Culture Fieldston School

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Ethical Culture Fieldston School
Ethical Culture Fieldston School logo.svg
33 Central Park West
New York City, New York 10023
United States
Coordinates 40°53′23″N 73°54′23″W / 40.889674°N 73.90641°W / 40.889674; -73.90641Coordinates: 40°53′23″N 73°54′23″W / 40.889674°N 73.90641°W / 40.889674; -73.90641
Type Private Day School
Motto Fiat lux (Let there be light)
Established 1878
Founder Felix Adler
Head of school Jessica L. Bagby
Grades Pre-K through 12
Enrollment approx. 1,600

     PMS 021 orange

     PMS 289 blue
Mascot Eagle
Accreditation National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
Newspaper Fieldston News
Yearbook Fieldglass
Other publications Season Pass, Eagle Eye, Fieldston (Historical) Review, The Gouda, Ars Magna, The Fieldston LP, Fieldston Lit Mag, Middle School News, Dope Ink Prints, The Hill Chronicle, Inklings, Colors of Fieldston Magazine
Song "Fieldston Lower School" (Fieldston Lower School) "I Walk Through The Doors" (Ethical Culture) "I'm On My Way" (Middle School) "Iam Canamus" (Upper School)

Ethical Culture Fieldston School' (ECFS), known as just Fieldston, is a private independent school in New York City. The school is a member of the Ivy Preparatory School League. The school serves approximately 1700 students with 325 faculty and staff.[1] Jessica L. Bagby has been the Head of School since June 2016.[2] The school consists of four divisions: Ethical Culture, Fieldston Lower, Fieldston Middle, and Fieldston Upper. Kyle Wilkie-Glass is the Chief Operating Officer and Jodi Scheurenbrand is the Chief Financial Officer. Ethical Culture, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and Fieldston Lower, located on the Fieldston campus in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, serve Pre-K through 5th Grade. The two lower schools feed into Fieldston Middle (grades 6–8) and Fieldston Upper (grades 9–12)—also located on the Fieldston campus in Riverdale. Ethical Culture is headed by Rob Cousins, Fieldston Lower is headed by Noni Thomas Lopez (Interim Principal), Fieldston Middle is headed by Principal Chia-Chee Chiu, and Fieldston Upper is headed by Robert J. Cairo (Interim Principal). Tuition and fees for ECFS were $48,645 for the 2017-18 school year.[3]


Workingmens school, in 1893
Ethical Culture, 33 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023
Felix Adler, circa 1913

The school opened in 1878 as a free kindergarten, founded by Felix Adler at the age of 24. In 1880, elementary grades were added, and the school was then called the Workingman's School. At that time, the idea that the children of the poor should be educated was innovative. By 1890 the school's academic reputation encouraged many more wealthy parents to seek it out, and the school was expanded to accommodate the upper-class as well, and began charging tuition; in 1895 the name changed to "The Ethical Culture School", and in 1903 the New York Society for Ethical Culture became its sponsor. The economic diversity which was important then is threatened by an annual tuition that is $48,645 for the 2017-18 school year. To help continue the school's original mission, Fieldston awards over $14 million in financial aid to 20% of the student body.[4]

The school moved into its landmark Manhattan building at 33 Central Park West in 1904. The entire school was located in that building until 1928 when the high school division (Fieldston) moved to its 18-acre (73,000 m²) campus on Fieldston Road in the exclusive Fieldston section of Riverdale; the Manhattan branch of the Lower School remained there, and in 1932 a second Lower School was opened on the Riverdale campus. In 2007, a new middle school was opened on the same Riverdale campus, for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Ethical Culture was said to pursue social justice, racial equality, and intellectual freedom.[5] The school and the affiliated Ethical Culture Society were

havens for secular Jews who rejected the mysticism and rituals of Judaism, but accepted many of its ethical teachings. Additionally, because the institutionalized anti-Semitism of the times established rigid quota systems against Jews in private schools, the Ethical Culture School had a disproportionately large number of Jewish students. Ethical was the only one that did not discriminate because of race, color, or creed."[5]

This tolerant spirit, and the founding philosophy overall, continues to draw families today although they might now be welcome anywhere. The school ended its formal ties with the Society in the 1990s, although retaining its name and striving to maintain the ethical tradition of its roots.

One of the early faculty members was the famous documentary photographer Lewis Hine.

ECF is not the only Ethical Culture School in the New York City area. In 1922, an Ethical Culture School was founded in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park, by Julie Wurtzberger Neuman.[6] However, this school is unrelated to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Fieldston Middle


Fieldston dropped its participation in the Advanced Placement Program in 2002 to give its faculty the freedom to offer supposedly more challenging and thought-provoking material. Students can take AP exams, but the school no longer officially sponsors such courses. While there was some concern that college admissions could be negatively affected, Fieldston's college office worked closely with admissions officers of schools across the country to explain the change, and to assure that its students would be evaluated on the quality of its courses, even without the AP designation.[7]


Fieldston's athletic program includes 44 teams covering 14 sports. The teams, known as the "Fieldston Eagles," play in the Ivy Preparatory School League against other private schools in the region. The school's hockey team as well as the girls and boys ultimate frisbee teams, however, do not play in the league and schedule their own games.

Special programs[edit]

  • Fieldston Outdoors – a six-week environmental day camp
  • Weeks of Discovery/Computer Camps – one-week sports, computer, and other activity camps during school breaks
  • BeforeSchool and AfterSchool – at the two Lower schools
  • Fieldston Enrichment Program (FEP) – tutoring program for selected public school students in preparation of public and private high school entrance exams and requirements
  • Young Dancemakers Company – acclaimed summer dance program
  • City Semester – an interdisciplinary experiential-education based semester program focusing all class on the local: New York City[8]
  • STS (Students Teaching Students) – a specialized ethics program where Form V & Form VI students (Juniors and Seniors) teach the ethics curriculum to middle schoolers. This curriculum covers a wide range of topics including community norms, relationships, social issues encountered in high school situations (sex, drugs, alcohol, and bullying), and social media.

Notable alumni and former students[edit]

Among its many notable alumni and former students are:

Peer Schools[edit]

Ethical Culture Fieldston is a part of the Ivy Preparatory School League, with many of the city's elite private schools. The three high schools Fieldston, Riverdale, and Horace Mann together are known as the "Hill schools," as all three are located within a short walking distance of each other in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, on a hilly area above Van Cortlandt Park. The three are also involved in inter-school sports rivalry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School: General FAQ". 2015-11-19. Archived from the original on 2015-10-25. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  2. ^ [1] Archived March 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Ethical Culture Fieldston School: Tuition and Fees". 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ a b Rosalind Singer (2002-04-25). "The Ethical Culture School". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
  6. ^ "Mark Horowitz : Alumni". Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  7. ^ Zhao, Yilu (2002-02-01). "High School Drops Its A.P. Courses, And Colleges Don't Seem to Mind". New York City. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  8. ^ "City Semester: The Bronx Experience 2012". Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  9. ^ Byers, Dylan (June 2, 2011). "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Jill Abramson". Adweek. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  10. ^ "Boss Man". Ebony. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  11. ^ "Joseph Amiel (AC 1959) Papers, 1956-2004: Biographical and Historical Note". 1937-06-03. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  12. ^ Rubinfien, Leo. "Where Diane Arbus Went." Art in America, volume 93, number 9, pages 65-71, 73, 75, 77, October 2005.
  13. ^ Koshman, Josh (2009-08-17). "Black Ops Mission: APOLLO FOUNDER RE-ENTERS THE LEVERAGE MARKET". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  14. ^ Lieber, Scott (2006-05-01). "The path of Nancy Cantor: In the name of defending her values, she's won acclaim with academia, two chancellor jobs -- and enemies along the way". The Daily Orange. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  15. ^ "In a Neutral Corner – Roy Marcus Cohn – Article –". Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  16. ^ a b c "Will Ferrell's Commencement Speech For New York Private School Fieldston". Huffington Post. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  17. ^ "Andrew Delbanco to Offer University Lecture, 'Melville, Our Contemporary,' April 10". Columbia News. 2003-04-08. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  18. ^ "Openings, Performances, Publications, Releases" (PDF). ECF Reporter. Winter 1999 – Spring 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  19. ^ Holley, Joe (2007-02-07). "Ralph de Toledano, 90; Ardent Conservative". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  20. ^ Gordon, Meryl. "Comfort Food". Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  21. ^ Ethical Culture School Record. New York City. 1916. p. 46. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  22. ^ Robert A. Caro (1975). The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Vintage Books. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-394-72024-1.
  23. ^ Bruce Weber (2008-08-26). "Lawrence Urdang, Language Expert Who Edited Dictionaries, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  24. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 2, 2013). "Jane Wright, Oncology Pioneer, Dies at 93". Archived from the original on March 4, 2013.

External links[edit]