Greetings from the Headmaster
When Horace Taft founded “Mr. Taft’s School” in 1890, he sat down at a table with seventeen students in a modest house in Pelham Manor (NY). The mission of the school—the education of the whole student—was fixed then, and we have been true to that mission ever since. And if the school has changed in profound ways in our history, we are essentially still what we see from that first night: a present and passionate teacher challenging a bright and curious student, on a historic and beautiful campus, in a close and caring community, and with a compelling and relevant mission.
Perhaps it’s helpful to tear apart the last sentence and to speak to these five areas that mark a great school: faculty, students, campus, community, and mission.
The faculty of Taft are men and women who love not only their subject matter, but also the opportunity to teach it—to bring ideas alive in small, vibrant classes. They guide and shape students outside the classroom as well, as advisors, coaches, dorm parents, and directors. They have chosen the life of this school, where we are teaching at all hours of the day and on every corner of campus.
Taft students come from all over the nation and from around the globe. They bring incredible, inspiring diversity of talents, perspective, experience, and interests. They seek excellence and high levels of achievement in many areas. And, perhaps most importantly, they extend a culture of respect, empathy, and caring.
The campus of some two-hundred acres is a beautiful collection of collegiate-Gothic buildings, designed by a number of singularly visionary architects, who left us with a campus that brings people together, which creates contact and warmth, and which says that our work is serious and important. This blend of old and new, of the historic and the state-of-the-art, makes this a unique place to live and learn.
The community of Taft is close, warm, caring, spirited, and fun. We have core values that are simple and which guide us: we adhere to an honor code that shapes all we do and all we are; we expect students to treat each other with respect and kindness; we applaud high achievement and resilience in the face of challenge; and we believe in serving others.
And as I shared at the outset, our mission is clear: the education of the whole student. Ours is an education at once intellectual, moral, spiritual, physical, and aesthetic.
In many ways, there’s a balance to Taft. On one hand, we have the curricular and extracurricular possibilities of a large school, and on the other we feel small, communal, and intimate. We are a place of high expectations—in conduct, in achievement—and yet we know that adolescents make mistakes and learn. And we take certain things seriously—especially service, honor, and respect—but we do not take ourselves too seriously. Our hope is that a Taft graduate leaves school happy and healthy, brave and resilient, empathic and respectful, a life-long learner who is committed to service to others.
Our hope is that this site will give you a first glimpse of the school and of all that happens on campus, but I deeply hope you will be able to visit campus to see first-hand all that is Taft.
— William R. MacMullen '78, P'14, '16
Eliza Denious '17 is a head mon, a team captain, and a student who thrives on the energy and passion of the Taft community.
Tafties come from all walks of life, each with a story that fascinates and inspires. Meet some of our students, faculty, and alumni here.
Mr. Taft’s founding mission was to educate the whole student-- to develop academic, artistic, and athletic talents in each student, while encouraging them to serve others.
594 students come to our 226-acre campus from 32 states and 43 countries to be taught by 126 faculty members with 91 advanced degrees, in classes averaging 11 students, for a 1:5 teacher-student ratio.
The history of our school is one of consistent growth and progress, driven by thoughtful intention.
Taft's Portrait of a Graduate answers the question, “What do we want Taft graduates to know and be able to do?”
Mr. Taft's belief that character, above all else, determines success in life, lies at the heart of our Honor Code.