Miss Porter's School

Coordinates: 41°43′21″N 72°49′46″W / 41.72250°N 72.82944°W / 41.72250; -72.82944
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Miss Porter's School
60 Main St


United States
Coordinates41°43′21″N 72°49′46″W / 41.72250°N 72.82944°W / 41.72250; -72.82944
Other nameMPS, Porter's, Farmington
TypeIndependent, boarding
MottoPuellae venerunt. Abíerunt mulieres. ("They came as girls. They left as women.")
Established1843 (180 years ago) (1843)
CEEB code070210
Head teacherDr. Katherine G. Windsor, Ed.D.
Enrollment325 total
212 boarding
113 day (2014)
Average class size10
Student to teacher ratio7:1
Campus size55-acre (220,000 m2)
Campus typeTownship
Color(s)Green and white
Athletics18 Interscholastic teams
Mascot(Fighting) Daisy
Endowment$142.3 million
Tuition$66,825 boarding
$53,475 day (for 2021–2022)[1]

Miss Porter's School (MPS) is an elite[2] American private college preparatory school for girls founded in 1843 in Farmington, Connecticut. The school draws students from 21 states, 31 countries (with dual-citizenship and/or residence), and 17 countries (citizenship alone) and international students comprised 14% as of the 2017–2018 year.[3] The average class size was 10 students in 2017.[3]

The community traditionally denotes those new to campus collectively as New Girls, those returning members as Old Girls, and alumnae/i as Ancients.[4][5]


Early history and Sarah Porter[edit]

1888 cabinet card of 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.[4] 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 own baseball team, the Tunxises, the name of which itself harkens back to those members of the Saukiog tribe who originally settled the area on which the school is situated.[6][7]

Mary Dunning Dow (1884-1903)[edit]

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, Porter gradually relinquished her control of the school to Dow.

Sarah Porter's will named her nephew, Robert Porter Keep, as executor of her estate, of which the school was the most valuable asset. Dow's compensation for her position as sole Head of School was also specified in the will. As executor, Robert Keep began extensive repairs and renovations to the school. While Dow continued to receive a salary as per Porter's will, she became convinced that 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 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.[8][9][10]

Elizabeth Hale Keep and Robert Keep (1903-1917)[edit]

Robert 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, eleven teachers, and between five and sixteen students in attendance. After Keep succumbed to pneumonia and died on July 3, 1904, Elizabeth Keep continued his legacy of renovation and construction. One of her many legacies was the establishment of a kindergarten for children of her employees.[11] The kindergarten, on Garden Street, became the Village Cooperative Nursery School, and is no longer connected with Miss Porter's School.

Robert Porter Keep, Jr., and RoseAnne Day Keep (1917-1943)[edit]

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.[8][12]

Robert Keep appointed members to the first board of trustees in 1943, including:

Centennial (1943)[edit]

The school was incorporated as a non-profit institution during the school's Centennial in 1943, with the primary purpose as a college preparatory school rather than its previous reputation as a finishing school for the social elite.[8] Also in 1943, the school ended the tradition of choosing a successive Head of School from the Porter family tree, selecting as its Heads, Ward L. Johnson and his wife Katharine Johnson.[8]

Hollis S. French and Mary Norris French (1954-1966)[edit]

Mary Norris (nee Frick) French and her husband Hollis Stratton French, the latter of whom himself grandnephew to former president of Lehigh University Robert Alexander Lamberton,[13] were appointed co-principals of the school and served in that capacity from 1954-1966.[14]

Richard W. Davis (1966-1975)[edit]

Mid-sixties, then headmaster of The Buffalo Seminary Richard W. Davis was elected and given mandate for change by the Board of Trustees, who felt that "the school [was] being hurt by having the reputation of being too restrictive and too conservative." His appointment marked the first time in a half-century that the school would be directed by one person, not a couple, though his wife Nancy Davis and their four children were still very much a part of campus life. Reflecting on his tenure at the school, Davis recalled, "We no longer required that girls wear head coverings in bad weather. We allowed pants to be worn, neat ones, to classes, but not to the dining room. We gradually dropped the requirement that all meals were "sit-down," with assigned seating. The changes did not come all at once, yet each one brought some dissent. Certain faculty members felt that standards were slipping." [8]

Warren S. Hance (1975-1983)[edit]

Having arrived in Farmington in 1967, from The Buffalo Seminary, with his wife Alice 'Lou' and their two children, Warren Smock 'Skip' Hance[15] quickly rose from within the history department, lingering only momentarily as department chair before assuming duties as director of development, and subsequently as assistant headmaster, all before eventually finding himself ninth Head of Miss Porter's School. Upon assuming highest office on campus, Hunsicker Room, he is noted to have said, "We believe that a single-sex school does give adolescent girls the very best opportunity to develop and maximize their abilities and talents."[8]

Dr. Rachel Phillips Belash, Ph.D. (1983-1992)[edit]

Immediately prior to her service as Miss Porter's Head of School, Belash had been "vice president at First National Bank of Boston."[16] A native of Wales and holding a Ph.D. in Spanish literature, Dr. Belash was inaugurated tenth Head of Miss Porter's School for a term beginning in 1983. Among other things, "she initiated the planning for the [then] new Student Recreation Center, refined and modified some school traditions, installed the computer center in the former art history rooms, and converted the old infirmary into a new dorm," medical facilities having since been moved to a new (and current) home on campus, the house known to the community as "Little Gay."[8]

Marianna Mead O'Brien (1992-1993)[edit]

In July 1992, Marianna 'Muffin'[17] Mead O'Brien began her term as Head of School, following Dr. Belash's somewhat abrupt resignation at the end of June, and having served the school in years prior in her capacity on the board of trustees for a period stretching from 1976 to 1983, and, respectively, as parent to three (then) young Ancients. Drawing on her experience off a twenty-five year stretch of past administrative service to the Groton School, a period during which she had "helped start the coeducation program, taught history, tutored reading and was in the human relations and sexuality counseling faculty," O'Brien would go on to serve not but a one year term in the interim between Belash and Ford administrations.[18][19]

M. Burch Tracy Ford (1993-2009)[edit]

Soon after her inauguration as Head of Miss Porter's School, and fresh off her tenure as dean of students at Milton Academy and as residential counselor at the Groton School, in 1994, M. Burch Tracy Ford wrote, in a letter to the editor of The New York Times, “Coed classrooms are the norm, but the norm does not serve girls well; it needs to be challenged and, ultimately, changed. Single-sex education is counterculture, but it's good for girls.”[20] Ford would go on to oversee launch of The Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund at Miss Porter's, offered through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, for the benefit of eligible students with demonstrated financial need who have displayed both academic excellence and leadership within their respective communities. One such scholarship beneficiary would go on to present her benefactor with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2011 Governors Awards as presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[21][22][23][24] So memorialized in the Boston Globe by her husband and longtime crew coach Brian Ford, “She was determined that Miss Porter's was going to compete on an even level with every school in the country. And she felt that having decent, competitive sports was one element of that.”[20]

Dr. Katherine Windsor, Ed.D. (2009–present)[edit]

Since 2009, the Head of School is Katherine Windsor,[4][25] who draws on her past experience running the Center for Talented Youth program at Johns Hopkins University and The Sage School in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Her tenure as Head of School has seen the school, among other things, instantiate its partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education's Independent School Teaching Residency program.

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Windsor oversaw a number of campus-wide initiatives to reduce propagation of airborne pathogens within the community; including, but not limited to, the Mellon Gymnasium temporarily transformed for the purposes of meal service in order to bolster social distancing capacity of the school's permanent dining facility, a space for which Centerbrook Architects & Planners and O&G Industries independent services were already engaged in its expansion and renovation.[26][27] Additionally, administrative personnel rented space at adjacent village worship halls, namely St. James Episcopal Church and the First Church of Christ, Congregational, to aid in the de-densification process. Likewise, 'The Daisy Market' was temporarily reimagined, with snacks instead made available in residence halls, further 'downstream' so to speak, in order to ensure that students wouldn't intermingle at a single point of distribution. Meanwhile, Brooks Field, itself sandwiched between the library and science centers, and traditionally delegated for use during graduation exercises, permitted the community well-ventilated and socially distanced respite via projected movies and lawn games, as well as playing host to Dance Workshop's dance Demonstration for Learning and fall performance, Nova Caeli.[28]

In late May 2020, Dr. Windsor presided over the school's first ever virtual graduation exercises. In tribute to the strength and grace with which the senior class had navigated such times of unparalleled uncertainty and overarching upheaval, the circular area in the walkway bisecting Brooks Field has since been "adorned with bricks that bear each graduate's name." In lieu of the more traditional and eagerly anticipated fanfare which typically accompanies commencement exercises, "the school sent each of the girls a special memento to commemorate their most unusual graduation—a small bowl made of wood salvaged from the European copper beech tree that stood outside 60 Main Street since Sarah Porter's time," which had been slated as diseased by state approved arborists during diagnostic audit, for (eventual) felling in November 2018.[29]

On March 31, 2021, Windsor announced via her Twitter account that she is currently serving as a faculty member at the UPenn Graduate School of Education.[30] As of 2022, the school's endowment was estimated at $142.3 million.[3]


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
Studio Building at Miss Porter's school
The Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris '71 Student Center, known to generations past as the Kate Lewis Gym

The 40-acre campus overlooks the Farmington River and includes a number of historically significant buildings which have collectively served the wider Farmington community in a range of functional capacities over their respective histories.[31] Over the years, the school has transformed its campus assets to suit its needs.

Academic facilities[edit]

  • Main House, located at 60 Main Street and the front door of which is depicted on the school seal, was built in 1830 as the Union Hotel on Main Street, intended originally to serve patrons of the nearby Farmington Canal and later it was rented to Sarah Porter in 1848 until her eventual purchase on April 19, 1866.[32][33] Retrofitted with a kitchen during a renovation c. 1870s, the building serves as the central-most hub of campus life. Most recently, the dining hall was expanded to accommodate the school's burgeoning enrollment; a project which also saw the structure outfitted with an elevator to facilitate access, the campus security office and adjacent student spaces reimagined, all with intentions of bringing the whole facility around to bear a closer historic resemblance to the original hotel.[34]
  • Greene House, better known to the wider community as the Thomas Hart Grist Mill, dates back to the 1600s and predates most structures in its immediate vicinity; until the 1960s, the site was a functioning grist mill noted for its historical service to President Calvin Coolidge, and in 2012, the building was purchased by the school and renovated for eventual service to the community in its capacity as admissions office.[35][36]
  • Historical buildings Major Timothy Cowles House and Samuel Deming Store (itself otherwise known to cohorts past, respectively, as F.L. Scott Store, Your Village Store, or Jiggs—for its one time proprietor, one such John "Jiggs" DiCaprio) are both located on Mills Street and currently serve the community in their respective capacities as faculty housing. The Thomas Hart Hooker House, built in 1770 and located on Main Street,[37][38] currently serves as the campus alumnae/i and development office, having once served in years prior as housing for the Eleventh Head of School and her family,[39] and, subsequently, as the admissions office.
  • M. Burch Tracy Ford Library, often abbreviated simply to Ford, is one of the newer academic facilities on campus. It 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.[40]
  • Hamilton, known to past generations as the campus infirmary, subsequently as student housing, is currently home to the English and History departments. Dr. Rachel Belash's tenure as Head of School saw this building transformed from school infirmary into a new dorm, so "christened Hamilton, in honor of the strong-minded, strong-willed group of Hamilton sisters and cousins who attended MPS in the late nineteenth century," most notably Alice and Edith.[8]
  • Leila Dilworth Jones '44 Memorial, typically abbreviated to Jones Memorial, or simply Jones, and having served as a pharmacy prior to the school's founding, is home to the language department, where students may immerse themselves in modern and classical cultures including, but not limited to, Spanish, Latin, French, or Mandarin. As with most buildings on campus, Jones Memorial has served in many operational capacities to suit the school's functional needs, sporadically as faculty housing and as temporary storage for the school's library contents.
  • Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris '71 Student Center, centrally located and occupying a historic renovated wood-shingled cottage at 62 Main Street, has, in recent years and since renovation and rededication as a living tribute to the first Black student to attend Miss Porter’s School, has come to replace the Wean Student Center as primary gathering space for students. A space which has traditionally been considered home to the school's student a cappella group, The Perilhettes, and known formerly to the wider school community as the Kate Lewis Gym, having at one point served students in its capacity as the school's only gym and theater and, subsequently, as the school's music department, is wedged between Main and the structure known to the community as Counting House, itself once having housed the music program and which currently serves the school in an administrative capacity as business office.[41]
  • Ann Whitney Olin Arts and Science Center, typically abbreviated to Olin, is the main building for mathematics, science, and arts. Studio art labs include a painting and ceramics studio, each with 25-foot (7.6 m) ceilings and 500-square-foot (46 m2) of windows, separated by a textiles lab and a digital media lab, while the lower level of the facility is home to the department's photography classroom and darkroom, and all with full wheelchair-access accreditations. The renovation and expansion of this building was designed by Tai Soo Kim.[42]
  • The Studio, built in 1885, 'by 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.[43] Later used to house the school's history department,[8] and subsequently as faculty housing, the space is now home to the school's music department.

Athletic facilities[edit]

  • The Colgate Wellness Center, known to generations past as Little Gay for its proximity and size relative the Julius Gay House (aka Weekend House),[8] is an eight-bed licensed infirmary, wholly Ancient-run in its medical and counseling capacities. The facility was recently remodeled to extend the space and streamline student access.[44]
  • The Student Recreation Center, designed by Tai Soo Kim [45] and built in 1991, includes the Wean Student Center (a gift of the Raymond John Wean Foundation), Crisp Gymnasium with an elevated running track, a weight and exercise room, an athletic training room, and four once-standard squash courts, the court space of which has since been repurposed to accommodate a collective of Concept2 machines, a free weight room, and a climbing wall. The school's squash program has a permanent home elsewhere on campus.
  • 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. It is also the official home of the Minks, Possums, and Squirrels, intramural rivalries that feature prominently the week leading up to the Welcome Tradition; outside of the complex, there is a statue for each of the three teams.[46] In a space adjacent to the gym, the Barbara Lang Hacker '29 Theater is home to the Players/Mandolin Performance Troupe.
  • The Gaines Dance Barn, known to generations past as the Playbarn,[8] 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 groups. In March 1998, the facility was acoustically treated following complications stemming from the 1993 remodel.[47][48] Most recently, the space underwent a partial expansion over thanksgiving break 2020, and now includes a locker room and foyer space adjacent to the school's north entrance on Porter Road.[49]
  • The Pool & Squash Building, alternatively called Squash & Swim Center, features a 25-yard, eight-lane ceramic-tile competition pool and eight regulation squash courts. To the order that any facility of such necessary size and bulk can be reasonably obscured from view of the surrounding town community, "designers sited and scaled the facility so the natatorium was built into the hillside, effectively reducing its visual height while allowing for sloped roof lines."[50]
  • The Farmington Boat House[51]
  • Kiki's Field, Cowbarn Field, Maple Field, and Oaklea Field.

Residential culture and student life[edit]

Approximately 75% of Porter's girls live on campus in dormitories, all but one of which are former Farmington private residences left to the school. The school currently maintains a total of nine student residence halls (or "houses"): Brick, Colony, Humphrey, Keep, Lathrop, Macomber, Main, New Place, and Ward, two of which are strictly limited to the senior class. Each residence has a house director who lives in a private suite or apartment in the immediate vicinity, often with his/her family. One of the school's distinguishing features is that house directors' primary responsibilities are within residential houses. Houses traditionally count among their residents two Junior Advisors, student leaders appointed to serve as peer counselors and mediators for each residence, respectively, with the exception of those houses restricted to seniors.[52] Each house is self-governing to an extent, with students responsible for chores on a rotating schedule, the threat of curtailed privileges ever looming. Week-to-week, the Head of Student Activities works closely with the Office of Student Life to build an array of weekend activities; any one weekend has the potential to see a student take in a movie at a nearby AMC Theatres complex, peruse the Westfarms Mall, and partake in a game of lasertag, all in one fall-swoop. This privilege is made available on an individual basis, at a student's leisure, depending of course on the student's academic or disciplinary standing and barring explicit parental restriction.

In her later years, Ancient Theodate Pope Riddle outfitted a section of her family's homestead on Mountain Road as The Odd and End Shop, known alternatively as The Grundy.[53] A reincarnation of this corner store remains to this day on campus as The Daisy Market, in the northwest-most corner of Main, for all students to peruse at their leisure or, else, avail themselves of hangout amenities.


Roughly speaking, Spring Traditions serve to celebrate that academic year's graduating class of seniors while Fall Traditions function primarily to welcome New Girls to the community and as a means of general relationship building. School-wide traditions generally find students clad in color-clashing apparel (k-tel by campus terminology, a thinly-veiled allusion to the 'as seen on tv' infomercials) wielding noise makers and posters, and are rumored to involve not too infrequent streaking.

  • Chief amongst the school's many long-held traditions is the Old Girl/New Girl relationship. Prior to their arrival at the school, each new student (New Girl by on-campus terminology) is paired with a senior Old Girl who serves as a friend and mentor throughout the year. New Girl/Old Girl events are organized throughout the year by Co-Heads of New Girls in collaboration with the school's administrative staff.
  • Heading up the fall semester is the Welcome Tradition, during which students introduce themselves to the intramural and wider Farmington communities, loudly in every sense of the word and as a symbolic means of women reclaiming their rightful place in society. The night's celebrations culminate, among other things, in the first performance by the school's seniors-only a cappella group, The Perilhettes, since the academic year prior when they were first 'tapped.' The line-up is completely replaced each year and is composed entirely of senior students, maintaining a repertoire of old standards and contemporary music alike.
  • Mountain Day, typically observed early in the fall semester, and a beloved all-school tradition eagerly anticipated by students, is a surprise reprieve from schoolwork obligations and is usually announced, in dramatic fashion, by dinner's end the evening prior. In 2018, to mark the school's 175th anniversary, Mountain Day was announced by none other than Oprah Winfrey herself, live via the school's Instagram account.[54] Traditional observance of Mountain Day might involve off-campus excursions amongst various student cohorts, and, for new students, an obligatory hike to the Heublein Tower high atop nearby Talcott Mountain.
  • Originally one of many parlor games played at dances, the German[55] has evolved into a series of sketch comedy stage performances, each produced independently throughout the year by one or more campus cohorts, for purposes of honoring and satirizing distinguished community standard-bearers; most notably, the Welcome German as a series of skits produced by seniors in early fall, the Christmas German as student-written skit produced by non-senior Old Girls, the Farewell German as New Girl-produced German at the end of the school year, and the Faculty German as a series of skits produced by faculty and staff. Because of the expansive and privileged nature of this tradition, the German has come to occupy the community lexicon in its capacity as "any entertainment created by the students for themselves."[8]
  • Tapping, the process by which student leadership positions, standard-bearer roles, and various artifacts are ceremoniously passed between student cohorts, occurs at various points throughout the year, skewed however toward its conclusion.
  • Various locales around campus play host to twice-weekly instances of Singing in the Garden during a period of the academic year which roughly correlates to the spring athletic season.
  • Each academic year culminates in a series of commencement exercises, the main objective of which is to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class. But, not to be lost amongst these rituals is the Ring Ceremony, the conference itself of which traditionally marks a New Girl's graduation into the Old Girl cohort of students, and during which upperclass Old Girls are invited to ceremoniously "wish upon" the rings of New Girls with whom they have developed a strong bond over the course of the academic year. Each New Girl chooses for her ring ceremony, a specific campus locale with which she holds particular reverence.

Clubs, sports, and organizations[edit]

In addition to an array of club and varsity sports, the school boasts current slate of over fifty active student-run clubs and organizations that cater to a wide variety of its students' interests. If a student doesn't find an organization that fits their specific interest or need, there is a process by which they can create their own.


Porter's traditional rival is The Ethel Walker School, against which it competes as a member of the Founders League, and, to a lesser extent, the likes of fellow founding members Choate Rosemary Hall, Hotchkiss, Kent, Kingswood-Oxford, Loomis Chaffee, Taft and Westminster. At the end of each season, Porter's competes against the league's most competitive teams in the New England Championships.[56][57] Officially, the school has no mascot, a holdover from a time when exercise for girls was seen predominantly as a means to sustain patriarchal systems. However, over the years and as the athletic program has gained standing in competition with other NEPSAC schools, students have come to be known collectively in interscholastic competition as Fighting Daisies. Since the turn of the millennium, student athletes have earned a combined 11 Founder's League and 8 New England championship titles.[58]

Student publications[edit]

Amongst this wide array of clubs are a smattering of organizational boards that sustain each of the school's community-wide publications:

  • Salmagundy, established October 27, 1945, is the school's student-run monthly newspaper, now both an online and paper publication, [59] and the name of which was derived at first printing as a portmanteau of 'salmagundi,' which is a potpourri or a heterogeneous mixture, and 'gundy,' a linguistic variation on 'grundy,' itself known to generations past as a "tea room and soda fountain on High Street where, for many years, students satisfied their collective sweet tooth."[60] A nameplate from the early noughties distinguishes the paper as having once claimed International First Place Award-Superior Achievement from the National Journalism Honor Society, Quill & Scroll, and First Place with Special Merit from the The American Scholastic Press Association.[61]
  • The school's journal for scholarly writing, Chautauqua, sharing its name with the US adult education movement, offers publication examples of student research across a variety of academic disciplines.
  • The school's yearbook, Daeges Eage,[62] whose name translates literally from Old English to "eye of the day,' from which the modern word "daisy" is derived.
  • Haggis/Baggis, the school's magazine for literature and fine arts,[62] features student poems, short stories, photographs, and artwork. Since it was first published in 1967,[63] the magazine has received numerous awards and recognitions.[64] The Spring 1984 issue featured writing by a number of outside authors, solicited earlier that year by the magazine's editors to discuss their respective visions for the year 2020, notably Anne Bernays, Ray Bradbury, Art Buchwald, then Vice President George H. W. Bush, Anthony Hecht, Edward Hoagland, William Manchester, Richard L. Strout, as well as a four-color print donated by Jamie Wyeth, in tribute to the Eric Blair (1903-1950), author of 1984.[65]
  • The Language Literary Magazine is a yearly publication which showcases writings by foreign language students, including essays, poems, commentaries, and dialogues.

Student government[edit]

Various community cohorts around campus elect representatives to the student government, lead by members of the Nova Nine, themselves elected by their classmates in late spring of their junior year: Head of School, Second Head of School, Co-Heads of Main, Co-Heads of New Girls, Head of Diversity, Head of Athletics, Head of Student Activities.

Archives and special collections[edit]

As one of the oldest independent schools with archival holdings, the school holds a particular significance to historians and humanities scholars alike. By the school's own website, c. 2004, "The history of the School is preserved in our extensive Archives, where letters, records, documents and memorabilia are collected and cataloged. The Archives contain student scrapbooks and albums, a large photograph collection, diaries and journals, student letters and reminiscences, oral histories of graduates starting with the Class of 1903, school publications, student compositions and even clothing from different eras. Students may join the Archives Club and help the School archivist with transcribing diaries and letters, cataloging new materials and with other activities."[66] Deborah Smith notes for her masters of library science thesis, Lessons from the 1800s: Creating the Miss Porter's School Digital Archive, "As one of the only all-female schools operating continuously since the 1800s, the school has many documents that predate American women's political emancipation."[67] Smith continues, "In December 2017, an initial archival assessment was made. The main archives room, twenty-five by fifteen feet, consists of a long work counter with three rows of shelving and several vertical file cabinets. Early project challenges related to the absence since 2008 of a dedicated archivist for the collections. In the intervening decade, the collection had also been moved from a historic converted home [Timco] to a room in the school's library (an ADA-accessible, climate-controlled building constructed in 2000). Despite the relocation, immediate measures were needed for dust remediation, temperature control, and reorganization before collection assessment could begin. Although the archives had technically been closed for a decade, donations had continued to come in; the absence of an archivist also meant that these donations had been minimally processed."[67]

Notable alumnae/i[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Authors have in years past chosen to base their novels in Farmington and/or portray the lives of members of its community. It should also be noted that, given the school's nature as an institution purposefully dedicated to the advancement of girls and women, it is not uncommon to see it used by media producers specifically as a vehicle for the 'off to boarding school' trope among others.

  • In the movie The Skulls, the lead female, Chloe, attended Miss Porter's before attending Yale.
  • In the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy's mother thinks it would be best to send Buffy away to school, she picks up an application to Miss Porter's.[68]
  • In the television show The Nanny, in Mr. Sheffield's office, Fran suggests Gracie attend a summer program at Miss Porter's.
  • In the musical Rent, one of the leads, Harvard-educated lawyer Joanne Jefferson, attended and learned to tango with the French ambassador's daughter in her dorm room at Miss Porter's.[69]
  • In the novel, Betrayed by P.C. and Kristin Cast, Zoey finds Miss Porter's after researching different "private preparatory schools" to find examples of good student councils to model her own new Dark Daughters' council after.[70]
  • In the novel The Debutantes by June Flaum Singer, the four main characters met at Miss Porter's.
  • In the novel The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, a main character is sent to Miss Porter's.
  • In the novel A Portion for Foxes, by Jane McIlvaine McClary, Miss Porter's (as "Farmington") is mentioned as a typical school for young women in the book's social setting.
  • The novel The New Girls (1979), by Beth Gutcheon, is set in a school called Miss Pratt's based on Miss Porter's.[71]
  • In the film, Metropolitan (1990), the character Jane Clark tells Tom Townsend that she, Audrey Rouget, and Serena Slocumb had all attended "Farmington."
  • In the film, Mona Lisa Smile (2003), as Katherine Watson is studying Joan Brandwyn's file, a cutaway shot of it reveals that she attended Miss Porter's School, but incorrectly locates it in Lower Merion, PA.[72]
  • Sally Draper, from the AMC series Mad Men, completes an interview and overnight stay at Miss Porter's in the sixth-season episode entitled "The Quality of Mercy."[73] Recent episodes have highlighted Sally's adventures at school.[74]


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  6. ^ "Miss Porter's School ~ School History and Archives". Porters.org. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
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