In the fall of 1877, Eliza Bailey Masters founded what is now The Masters School. The oldest daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Miss Masters was determined that her school would not be the typical “finishing school.” Although her earliest students did not traditionally go on to college, they studied a liberal arts curriculum that included Latin, mathematics, and astronomy.
Miss Masters instilled in her “girls” the need to live useful, orderly lives based on truthfulness, integrity, and responsibility. She took the school motto from a verse in the Bible: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” To her students she often said, “Don’t just try; do it!” For the school color she chose purple, signifying royalty and spirituality.
By the early 1900s, college preparation had become the dominating factor in the academic curriculum. This changing focus of coursework and preparation for college was to serve as the backdrop to how The Masters School’s future would unfold. By the time the School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1927, it had two hundred boarding students, most of whom were preparing for college.
By 1994, it became evident that bold initiatives were needed to increase enrollment and continue the School’s tradition of excellence. After a year of study, the Board of Trustees voted to make the Upper School coeducational, to create a boys’ Middle School that would parallel the existing girls’ Middle School, and to use the Harkness method of teaching in the Upper School, beginning in the fall of 1996. A one-semester, experience-based urban studies program called CITYterm was launched on campus, also in the fall of 1996.
Since July 2000, guided by an ambitious strategic plan, The Masters School has experienced measured growth and dramatic successes. The School’s enrollment now stands at 677 talented and diverse students. Our alumnae/i come from 52 countries and 49 states. Laura Davis Danforth has served as Masters' 14th Head of School since July 2015.