Masters School

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Coordinates: 41°00′39″N 73°52′14″W / 41.010943°N 73.870451°W / 41.010943; -73.870451

The Masters School
49 Clinton Ave
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Type Private, boarding
Motto Do It With Thy Might
Established 1877
Founder Eliza B. Masters
Chairman Tracy Tang Limpe
Head of School Laura Davis Danforth
Teaching staff 109
Grades 5-12
Enrollment Upper School: 415
Middle School: 164
International students 20%
Average class size 14
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Campus 96 acres (390,000 m2)
Color(s) Purple, White
Athletics conference NEPSAC
Mascot Panther
Newspaper Tower
Yearbook Masterpieces
Endowment $50 million
School fees Boarding: $62,500
Day: $44,550
Middle School: $43,050

The Masters School, known as Masters, is a private, coeducational boarding school and day college preparatory school located in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Its 96-acre (390,000 m2) campus is located north of New York City on the Hudson Valley in Westchester County. It was founded as an all-girls private school in 1877 by Eliza Bailey Masters, and first admitted boys in 1996.


The school was founded in 1877 by Eliza Bailey Masters as the ″Misses Masters' Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies and Children.″ The school taught English, French, Latin, music, art, the Bible, moral philosophy, astronomy, botany, mathematics, domestic science, and etiquette. While it was secular, Masters had a religious tone; it catered exclusively to female students.[1]

In 1997, due to under-enrollment, the school became co-educational, opening itself to male students for the first time.[2]

Student body[edit]

The Masters School has over 570 students in grades 5-12. The school is co-educational with the exception of grades 6-8 in which most classes are separated by gender. Masters students come from 17 states and 17 countries. In the Upper School, 17% of students are international.[citation needed]


Over 70% of the faculty have advanced degrees. The average class size is 14 students.[3]


The school's wooded 96-acre campus is on a hilltop in Dobbs Ferry, a historic village with a sloping geography and waterfront on the Hudson River. A five-minute walk from the campus lookout over the Hudson brings students down to the heart of town, and a 40-minute train ride from there brings faculty and students to New York City.[citation needed]

The Dobbs Ferry Metro-North Railroad station is a 12 minute downhill walk from the school's campus. Coming from the station, the walk to the campus is a 16 minute walk due to the series of very steep hills.

Masters Hall, the main campus building

Located in the center of campus, two dormitories for boys and three dormitories for girls accommodate more than 150 upper school American and international students. The boys' dorms are named Thompson and Strong; the girls' dorms are named Ford, McCormack, and Cole.[citation needed]. Separated by a short hill, both sets of dorms have outdoor space with bbq grills for use in the warmer months.

The campus includes Estherwood, a late 19th-century mansion that is the only châteauesque building in Westchester County. It and its carriage house are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses faculty in apartments on the upper floors, and the first floor and grounds offer a unique setting for school parties and programs. Student chamber ensembles perform in Estherwood and, each year, drama students present one-act plays in one of the mansion’s rooms.


  • Masters Hall, which dates back to 1921, is the academic hub of the School. Renovated in 1972 following a devastating fire and again in 2005, it is a state-of-the-art facility for the twenty-first century. The building features the completely refurbished 30,000-volume Pittsburgh Library and McKnight Reading Room; Upper School academic classrooms with Harkness tables and ceiling-mounted LCD projectors; a digital media lab, language lab, lecture hall, computer lab, and administration and faculty offices.
  • Morris Hall is the science and technology center. The building houses classrooms with Harkness tables and fully equipped science laboratories for teaching biology, physics, environmental science, chemistry, and one semester seminar style courses such as forensics; faculty offices; two computer studies rooms; a special lab for independent research; and two dedicated classrooms for the middle school.
  • The Middle School building opened in January 2005. It houses fifteen spacious classrooms; the Great Hall, which accommodates the entire Middle School and occasionally the upper school for morning meeting, assemblies, and special events for the entire school; common areas on each floor for informal meetings and socializing; an art classroom and kiln; and a music room with keyboards.
  • Cameron A. Mann Dining Hall is the school's rapidly ageing dining hall. The Dining Hall serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily for boarding and day students and is the site of many student and faculty hosted dinners and community events. The dining hall also houses the school's new Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.
  • Claudia Boettcher Theater is a 450-seat theater in which actors, musicians, singers, and dancers perform. It is also the school’s gathering place where the entire Upper School assembles most mornings to begin the academic day with morning meeting. It is connected to Masters Hall.
  • Strayer Hall houses one of the school's Gymnasium, weight room, Music Center, and Dance Studio.
  • Art Studio is a two-story art studio adjacent to the theater. A digital media lab and darkroom are located on the other side of the building. It is connected to Masters Hall.
  • The Maureen Fonseca Center for Athletics and Arts, named for former Head of School Dr. Maureen Fonseca opened in the fall of 2015. It is a 75,000 ft2 building featuring a fencing salon with seating for over 100 spectators, a six-lane FAA and NEPSAC compliant swimming pool, four squash courts, a three lane indoor track, a gymnasium with a regulation basketball court, two practice basketball courts and two volleyball courts, a cardio room, trainers room with whirlpool for conditioning and therapy, two sets of locker rooms, art gallery, experimental theater, two dance studios, photography and video studio, media arts lab, various rehearsal spaces for artists, and the Davis cafe, a popular place for students to hang out during free periods and after school that sells international snacks.


The school offers the following sports each season:

Academics and curriculum[edit]

The minimum course load each year includes five major courses. Graduation requirements include four years of English, three years of a foreign language, three years of mathematics (through at least Trigonometry), two years of lab science, three years of history (including U.S. history), religion (a one-year minor), humanities minor in grade 9, visual or performing arts minor, public speaking, health, and four years of physical education or other athletic credit.

The school offers honors sections in the sciences, mathematics, and languages. Advanced Placement courses are offered in all of the academic departments.

Starting in the 2016-2017 school year, a new class, Introduction to Engineering Design, is being offered to give students an introduction to the engineering design process. Similar classes will likely be offered in the following years.

Nearly all classes at Masters are designed around the Harkness method, a discussion-based teaching method designed to encourage active participation in education, and help students develop listening and speaking skills.[4] To facilitate this method, nearly all classrooms are fitted with a large ovular Harkness table of varying sizes depending on the room. All of the tables have pull out boards built into the table for administrating exams.

Arts and music[edit]

In the fields of theater, dance, music and the fine arts, many classes and opportunities are offered during and after the school day.

Dobbs 16 competes at the National Championship of High School A Cappella in Allendale, New Jersey
The Drama Department stages three productions each year—a dramatic play in the fall, a musical in the winter, and student-directed one-act plays in the spring. Members of Phoenix, the school's honorary drama society, stage their own productions throughout the year, making student performances regular campus events. On Friday evenings, Phoenix Coffee House offers "open mic" opportunities for performers, poets, and musicians in the community.
The music program offers classes and private lessons during the school day, one of the most popular being the school's chorus, known as Glee Club. Smaller A Capella groups are also popular. Students may participate in any of three groups: The Naturals, an all-male group; Dohters, all-female; and Dobbs 16, a coed group. Dobbs 16 has won competitions including the Northeast regional of the National Championship of High School A Capella 2005. The group toured China in the spring of 2008 and went on The Tyra Banks Show in fall 2009.[citation needed] The host of instrumental and vocal groups includes a community orchestra and a jazz ensemble, plus bands and combos that offer opportunities for musical expression.
The dance program offers classes during the day and three audition-only dance companies. Muse and Urban Connection perform modern/ballet and hip-hop, respectively. The Masters School Dance Company performs twice a year, and in it students have the opportunity both to choreograph their own pieces and to havs pieces set on them by professional choreographers.
Visual arts
The visual arts program offers classes during the day, which can fulfill the arts requirement. Studio art minor classes are offered for one semester, and the more intensive major classes are offered for the entire year. These classes focus on a variety of mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and printmaking.

Digital arts[edit]

Multiple classes are offered for students who are interested in 21st century digital arts. the prominent class is digital photography, where students learn professional methods for taking photographs and editing them with professional software such as Photoshop. In addition, the school offers several sections of digital media and game design, where students approach art from both the graphic and interface design aspect and more technical programming perspective.
Tower is the student newspaper of The Masters School. It is published approximately seven times a year. In 2009, the newspaper was awarded a Gold Circle Award for student work from Columbia Scholastic Press Association.[5] The publication was awarded a gold medal again in the 2013 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Medalist Critique. In the 2013-2014 school year, Tower won the National Scholastic Press Association Newspaper Pacemaker Award for the first time.[6]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]




External links[edit]