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where we come from

The world is a different place than it was in 1843 when Sarah Porter first opened the doors of her schoolhouse. She was steadfast in her mission to educate young women. However, not all women were granted access to the school, denied on the basis of their race, religion, or socioeconomic status. We continue to learn from and acknowledge our past and commit — both institutionally and individually — to actionable change for a more inclusive future. We are inspired when we look beyond Farmington and we see our Ancients demanding equity, fighting for justice, and searching for ways to make human life more joyous and vibrant.

Our history

About Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter came from an illustrious and learned Farmington family. She received the most advanced education available to a young woman of her status at that time in part because her father, a well-established Congregational Church minister, was committed to her schooling. Her family had a long-standing relationship with Yale University. Her brother, Noah Porter, was a former president at Yale, and Sarah was tutored by Yale professors. She became a life-long scholar eventually mastering four languages, and even learned Hebrew in her eighties.

Sarah and her School

Sarah had only 18 students her first year of Miss Porter’s School, but she continued to gain prominence with the support of a progressive group of Farmington fathers. By the 1880s, Miss Porter’s was a nationally well-respected school that boasted nearly 100 young women as students.

In the 19th century, Miss Porter’s School curriculum included Latin, French and German, spelling, and reading. Miss Porter’s girls also learned arithmetic, trigonometry, history and geography, as well as chemistry, physiology, botany, geology and astronomy.

To ensure that her students were well-rounded, Miss Porter emphasized excellence in the more traditional academic subjects, as well as the arts, a tradition that continues at our school today. She also required her students to exercise regularly — a notable idea for the time. She encouraged participation in sports such as tennis, horseback riding, and baseball.

After Sarah Porter’s death in 1900, management of the school remained in the hands of her family. Her nephew Robert Porter Keep, his wife Elizabeth Hale Keep, and their son Robert Porter Keep Jr. ran the school from 1904 until 1943. Miss Porter’s School was then incorporated as a non-profit institution.

MISS PORTER’S TODAY

Miss Porter’s School continues Sarah Porter’s mission of educating young women to shape the world in which they live. We provide our students access to an exceptional academic program, extraordinary opportunities for travel and global education, a premier arts curriculum, an array of competitive sports teams, and many community service opportunities. Our graduates are prepared to become the leaders of the future. Yet, Miss Porter’s School remains a place where these future leaders are supported by a connected community of faculty and students. For Porter’s students, Farmington is home.

NOTABLE LOCAL HISTORY

Miss Porter’s School campus is part of the Town of Farmington’s Historic District in Connecticut, and the land on which we sit has a rich and remarkable history.

Originally inhabited by the indigenous Tunxis tribe, colonists migrated to the area around 1634. The Tunxis people were pushed off their land over the course of a century. As a result, there were only a handful of Tunxis people still living in the Farmington area when Sarah Porter founded the school in 1843.

A few years before Miss Porter’s opened, the African Mendis people were abducted from their home country of Sierra Leone for future enslavement in Cuba. They staged a successful revolt on the ship La Amistad and eventually were forced to defend their freedom through a historic court case in New Haven, Connecticut. After winning the case, they stayed for a time in Farmington where they worked with abolitionists to raise money for their journey home to Sierra Leone. Two of the homes where the Mendis stayed are a part of our school campus today. The Samuel Deming House now serves as Alumni and Development offices. Deming Store — formerly known as Your Village Store — now houses Miss Porter’s faculty and is affectionately called Jiggs.

Previous to Sarah Porter opening the school and then throughout the early years of the school’s founding, Farmington was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, certain areas of our campus are a part of the Farmington Freedom Trail.

notable alumnae

Since the founding of Miss Porter’s School, our alumnae — fondly known as Ancients — have made contributions to their communities and beyond. These are just some of the notable Ancients who have shaped a changing world.

Adia Benson Gundry ’05, executive producer, Prime Publishing, LLC; FBS Faculty, The Food Business School

Holly Davis ’05, marketing manager, Silver Oven Studios

Jacqueline Sofia ’05, Fulbright Scholar Award recipient

Katie Golden ’03, director of clinical research, Massachusetts General Hospital

Emily Costello Jacobs ’02, United Technologies, Global Mobility HR

Caroline Gottlieb ’02, producer, NBC’s Today Show

Nell Tivnan ’02, art director, Lady Gaga concert tour

Allison Clarke ’01, director of corporate partnerships, City Year New York

Sana Hussain Khan ’00, special assistant, Office of the Ass’t. Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

Megan Stevenson ’00, product marketing manager, Google Maps

Leah M. Wright-Riguer ’99, assistant professor, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government

Shakira Ramos Crespo ’98, fleet manager, Asia Pacific, Pratt & Whitney

Christina L. Alexander ’97, founding member of Anat Kah, a non-profit promoting community participation, social investment and sustainable development in the Mayan Riviera

Erin Tubridy Gates ’97, founder and principal designer of Erin Gates Design; author and editor of the design blog Elements of Style

Elizabeth Olear ’97, clinical researcher at Yale University School of Medicine

Naomi Uchida ’97, senior manager, retail finance at Coach

Lisa Johnson ’95, director, business technology, asset management at Credit Suisse

Victoria Keelan Henley ’95, radio host, Sirius XM

Chrishaunda Lee ’94, managing director, True Colors Theater Company

Heather Lynch McAuliffe ’94, vice president of public relations, J. Crew

Yun K. Chung ’93, director, chief administrative officer, Citigroup

Crystal A. Dickinson-Dirden ’93, professor of theater/drama, Spelman College

Keri Ferenc-Nelson ’93, environmental specialist, Sarasota County

Alisha Tlumacki Lumea ’92, founder, Cocoa Vino chocolate company

Melissa Pathay ’92, photographic services archivist at Ralph Lauren

Amy M. Woodford, D.V.M. ’90, owner,  Woodford Equine Clinic, Inc.

Mary Claire Pitocchelli Espenkotter ’90, attorney, U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

Karen Staib ’90, partner at Shipman & Goodwin LLP, Hartford Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty Award Recipient

Beverley Sutherland Kumar ’88, project manager, product innovation at HBO

Anita Bhatt ’87, chief financial officer and treasurer of the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

Gregg Renfrew ’86, founder and chief executive officer of Beautycounter

Lyda Ely ’83, owner, Little Goat Productions

Darcy Mauro ’83, president, consumer division at Sawgrass Technology

M’Lou Arnett ’82, chief operating officer at Scerene Healthcare, Inc.

Martine Costello ’82, vice president at Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Stephanie Cabot ’81, literary agent, The Gernert Company

Mary Weaver Renner ’81, owner and chief executive officer of Laser Plus

Annie Selke ’81, founder, The Annie Selke Companies (Dash & Albert, Pine Cone Hill, and Annie Selke Home);author of Fresh American Spaces

Ariel M. Zwang ’81, former White House fellow, chief executive officer, Safe Horizon

Jennifer Bard ’80, dean, College of Law at University of Cincinnati

Suzannah Grant Henrickson ’80, director and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter for Erin Brockovich

Patricia Pinto Monteforte ’79, executive vice president and general manager, Clinical Development at INC Research

Sarah Blake ’78, New York Times best-selling author of The Postmistress

Analisa N. Torres ’77, Supreme Court Justice, Supreme Court of the City of New York

Anna McDonnell ’76, founder and executive director at 5 for Fairness

India Howell ’75, founder and director, Rift Valley Children’s Fund, Tanzania

Sandy Erickson Golinkin ’73, former vice president and publisher of Lucky magazine.

Julie Lewis ’73, Emmy Award-winning independent film editor.

Elizabeth E. May ’72, leader, Green Party of Canada

Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris ’71, Physician, media spokesperson, and published author

Maureen Dennis Kelly ’70, Superior Court Justice, Superior Court of New Haven, Connecticut

Deborah Merrill-Sands ’70, dean, University of New Hampshire

Katharine Walling ’70, vice president, communications at United Way of New York City

Liz Blake ’69, senior vice president and general counsel for Habitat for Humanity International

Heidi Ettinger ’69, Tony Award-winning set designer for The Secret Garden

Tracy Gary ’69, president and founder of Inspired Legacies

Alexandra O. Hughes ’69, opera singer, San Francisco Opera Company

Eliza Kimball ’69, chief of political affairs at United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad

Katherine Nouri Hughes ’67, author, The Mapmaker’s Daughter

Dr. Tina Shapleigh Schmid ’66, co-founder of Transition Systems Inc. and former president, Business Solutions Group at Eclipsys Corporation

Dr. Louise Stevenson ’66, professor of history and American studies, Franklin & Marshall College; Sarah Porter scholar and author

Victoria Mudd ’64, documentary filmmaker, won Academy Award for Broken Rainbow

Milbrey Rennie Taylor ’64, Emmy Award-winning television producer (three for CBS news coverage, six for Sunday Morning) and a Peabody Award winner.

Louise Vietor Oliver ’62, former ambassador, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Rebecca Miller Harvey ’59, co-founder of Crabtree and Evelyn, Ltd.
Elizabeth Bartholet ’58, Harvard Law School professor and author

Agnes Gund ’56, founding trustee of the Agnes Gund Foundation, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and chairman of its International Council

Barbara Babcock ’55, Emmy-award winning actress for Hill Street Blues, starred in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

Edith Kunhardt Davis ’55, author and illustrator of children’s books

Laura Rockefeller Chasin ’54, founded the Public Conversations Project to foster “constructive conversation where there is conflict driven by differences.”

Katharine Daniels Kane ’52, deputy mayor of Boston, 1975-83

Elizabeth Cushman Putnam ’51, founder and president, Student Conservation Program, recipient of the Presidential Citizens’ Medal

Lillian McKim Pulitzer Rousseau ’49, founder of Lilly Pulitzer, Inc., author of Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Entertaining and Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Holidays

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis ’47, First Lady of the United States and editor, Doubleday & Co.

Letitia Baldrige Hollensteiner ’43, author, White House aide, public relations expert

Ellen Violett ’41, television scriptwriter, Emmy Award-nominee for The Experiment and Go Ask Alice

Anne Cox Chambers ’38, former Ambassador to Belgium

Gene Tierney Lee ’38, movie actress

Helen Coley Nauts ’25, founder of the Cancer Research Institute, won the National Institute of Social Sciences’ Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to Humanity

Ruth Hanna McCormick 1897, first woman to run for the U.S. Senate

Dr. Alice Hamilton 1888, first woman faculty member of Harvard University Medical School and founder of the field of industrial medicine

Theodate Pope Riddle 1888, architect of Westover School; founder and architect of Avon Old Farms School

Edith Hamilton 1886, classical scholar, author of The Greek Way and The Roman Way

Grace Hoadley Dodge 1873, established Columbia University Teachers’ College

Eliza Talcott 1852, co-founder of Kobe College, the oldest college for women in Japan

Do you know any Ancients to add to the list? Please send us your nominations.

Imagining a future at Porter’s?