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Mission & Philosophy

Fay's Mission

The mission of Fay School is to educate each child to his or her full potential through a broad, balanced, and challenging program that establishes a solid foundation for a productive and fulfilling life.

Fay's Philosophy

As a day and boarding school for students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade Nine, Fay School is a community built on five core values: academic excellence; honorable conduct; dedicated service; earnest effort; and wellness of mind, body, and spirit. While the school has grown and evolved since its founding in 1866, our central purpose has remained constant. Fay provides a broad and challenging program that empowers students to discover their talents, develop their intellectual abilities, establish essential academic skills and knowledge, and define their moral character. Earnest effort has been emphasized throughout the School’s history, as enshrined in our motto, Poteris modo velis (“You can if you will”).


Fay is dedicated to educating children to their full potential in the early childhood, elementary, and middle school years by helping them recognize and develop their intellectual, aesthetic, physical, social, and emotional capabilities. We teach our students essential, enduring skills: to read well, to write and speak clearly and coherently, to reason soundly, to question thoughtfully, and to study effectively. These skills support their ability to lead, to collaborate, to create, and to solve problems.


Love of learning brings us together, and we encourage our students to be curious, creative, and open to new ideas. Fay’s safe and supportive environment allows students to take risks and encourages them to learn from mistakes, within the context of high expectations regarding academic performance and ethical conduct. Our teachers know their students as individuals and help them come to know themselves. As Fay students grow, they develop an understanding and acceptance of their own challenges and strengths as learners.


Honesty, respect, responsibility, empathy, and kindness inform our conduct. The development of manners, civility, and integrity are hallmarks of our school. At every grade level, we emphasize an obligation to help ensure the well-being of others. As a home for boarding students from many cultures and backgrounds throughout the United States and around the world, Fay is an inclusive community that recognizes, respects, and celebrates the full range of human diversity.


In all of these ways, Fay prepares our students to lead productive and fulfilling lives that make a positive difference in the world.

Fay's Core Values

Academic Excellence

  • Love of learning and teaching, and striving for mastery in both
  • Finding encouragement and support for learning and teaching within the Fay community
  • Being curious, creative, open to new ideas, and to taking risks in order to learn and teach
  • Contributing to a safe and secure learning environment
  • Taking responsibility for personal intellectual development

Earnest Effort

  • Valuing the tradition of earnest effort and its important role in the Fay community
  • Determination to do one's best at all times with the goal of reaching one's potential
  • Demonstrating perseverance in adversity, and having the courage to try again

Honorable Conduct

  • Following the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • Being honest and truthful
  • Choosing the good among difficult choices and encouraging others to do the same
  • Being responsible for one's actions and interactions within the community
  • Trying to understand, and respecting, the needs and feelings of others
  • Valuing and celebrating the diversity among people in the Fay family

Dedicated Service

  • Caring for the well-being of each member of the community
  • Having and showing compassion for others
  • Being generous with personal time, talent, and resources
  • Striving to improve the Fay community and encouraging others to do the same
  • Demonstrating stewardship of the earth and care for the environment

Wellness of Mind, Body, and Spirit

  • Striving for emotional, spiritual, and physical fitness
  • Taking time for personal reflection and finding joy in life
  • Sharing delight and laughter with others
  • Offering help when others are in emotional, spiritual, or physical need, and seeking such help for oneself when necessary


Enduring Skills for a Changing World
Teachers are encouraged to design students' experiences with these "Enduring Skills" in mind:

from Head of School Rob Gustavson's Parents' Weekend Address, 2010

Critical Thinking – The ability to listen well and question thoughtfully; anticipating possible consequences; maintaining curiosity and a desire to discover the truth; being open-minded; possessing confidence but not certainty
Introspection – Making time for reflection and extended concentration; self-knowledge; going beyond an awareness of what others think, and thinking for one’s self; seeking insight and understanding
Discernment – Evaluating evidence and assessing the validity of information; seeing and making connections; synthesizing and making sense; thinking deeply and carefully; reaching informed opinions and responsible judgments
Problem Solving – Being focused not just on identifying problems, but working to find solutions; taking initiative and being actively engaged; being deliberate, mindful, intentional, and purposeful
Adaptability – Being flexible and patient, nimble and agile; having a high tolerance for frustration; maintaining self-discipline, resilience, and perseverance; demonstrating the willingness to change and the ability to grow and improve
Collaboration – Working together with others toward a common goal; focusing on a successful outcome as opposed to personal recognition; understanding and appreciating differences across cultures; moving beyond the limits of one’s own personal experience; demonstrating empathy and the ability to take the perspective of others
Leadership – Acting on one’s convictions; having intrinsic motivation; behaving ethically; being accountable for one’s actions and taking responsibility regardless of the consequences; possessing determination and a desire to make things better