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Philosophy and Mission
Core Values
Founder's Vision
History of the School

History of the School

Ross School was founded by Courtney and Steven J. Ross in 1991 to address the urgent need for children around the world to be prepared for and engaged in a future global society. The School quickly grew from the initial three students and by 1996 comprised a full middle school serving girls in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. The following year a co-ed high school was added, and the first class graduated in 2001. In 2005, Ross School received accreditation from the Middle States Association (MSA) and was also chosen to receive the first International Credential ever awarded by MSA. The Lower School was added to Ross School in 2006. A boarding program was added in 2008 and continues to expand.

At Ross Institute Summer Academy, a three-week period of faculty professional development held prior to the beginning of the school year, participants focus on sustainability. Experts and mentors share their views on complex issues related to Earth’s sustainability, our responsibility to address this crisis, and how to educate students to take action to benefit the global community. The theme of sustainability is carried out throughout the year with elective courses, student projects, and community meetings. M-Term becomes Field Academy, and the majority of Field Academy courses, both on and off campus, revolve around issues of sustainability, such as ecotourism, the effects of climate change, and connecting with other cultures. One group of students visits the Solomon Islands with Smithsonian scientists to conduct research to develop the first-ever marine life field guide in collaboration with the Solomon Islands government.
  • Ross School welcomes more than 500 students from 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America.
  • Development of the Ross Learning System (RLS) continues, including significant progress on adding a sustainability thread to the K–12 curriculum.
  • Students participate in Climate March and are introduced to activism.
  • Lower School students raise money and awareness about the rising levels of nitrates in East End waters and the impact on marine life.
  • Ross celebrates its first annual Green Corn Festival with the Shinnecock Indian nation.
  • Ross is named to a list of the 10 best school lunches in America, recognizing the School’s commitment to healthy, regional, organic, seasonal, and sustainable nourishment.
  • Tennis is added to the Lower School Wellness program.
  • The Lower School organizes an Empty Bowls service project to benefit the Island Harvest food pantry.
  • Summer Camp @Ross expands to Bridgehampton campus.
  • The eleventh annual Live @Club Starlight celebration features GE Smith (also a Ross parent) and Joan Osborne.
The Curriculum Writing Project is recast as the Ross Learning System (RLS), which is refined and prepared for publication and dissemination to schools around the world. Clients will be able to implement all aspects of Ross’s unique, interdisciplinary Spiral Curriculum, with supplemental materials and support from Ross Institute. The School also implements an Associate program whereby individuals formerly filling intern positions take on greater responsibilities as teaching associates or in other roles. The boarding program enrolls approximately 250 students in grades 7–12 from 26 countries including the United States.
  • Summer Term @Ross adds courses in Mandarin, mathematics, technology and design, and marine science for students age 12–18.
  • Completing the restructuring plan, sixth grade moves to the Lower School campus.
  • Grades 7 and 8 participate in M-Term for the first time, with both travel and local opportunities offered.
  • Innovation Lab @Ross grows to include a concentration in marine science, and a partnership with Gump Research Station in Mo’orea, French Polynesia, makes possible an M-Term course on the island.
  • Junior Innovation Lab @Ross expands to include students in grade 4.
  • Period 10 is designated as time for extracurricular clubs and activities, with a variety of offerings to allow students to pursue their interests.
  • The eleventh annual Live @Club Starlight features KC and the Sunshine Band and honors Russell Simmons.
  • The archery program expands to the Lower School campus.

Setting a course for the next decade, Ross School introduces two new specialized academies: Innovation Lab @Ross, for advanced high school students passionate about science, math, engineering, media, and technology, and World Travel Academy @Ross, for families who want to bring the Ross curriculum and learning experience along with them to a destination of their choice. Founding Mentor Ralph Abraham conducts a course for faculty on Complex Dynamical Systems thinking. The boarding program continues to expand, enhancing the global perspective fostered by the School’s curriculum.
  • Ross School also launches Junior Innovation Lab @Ross, a twice-weekly extended-day program for students in grades 5–8.
  • Fifth grade moves to the Lower School campus and former middle school grades 6–8 join the Upper School community.
  • Ross joins the National Archery in the Schools Program and introduces archery as an elective at the Upper School.
  • First Annual Run for Ross 5K fundraiser is held, with families, students, and community members participating enthusiastically.
  • Live @Club Starlight, hosted by Christie Brinkley, features megastar Cyndi Lauper in an electrifying performance.

Ross School embarks on a yearlong celebration to mark its 20th anniversary. A large, western-themed kickoff party is held in the fall, and a special Club Starlight benefit honoring Founder Courtney Sale Ross and featuring alumni from the first 10 graduating classes is held in the spring. The Mandarin language program expands, and for the first time, all international M-Term trips travel to China. The boarding program grows to almost 150 students from 28 countries, including the United States.
  • The Ross School Tennis Academy is launched for competitive student-athletes in grades 7–12 and postgraduates.
  • Ross refocuses the world language program to provide students with more time to learn Mandarin. Students in grades K–12 begin studying both Mandarin and Spanish as part of their curriculum.
  • The boys varsity tennis team wins its third straight league title in a row with a season record of 10–1.

Continuing its mission to bring regional, organic, seasonal, and sustainable food to the student population, Ross School expands its widely renowned lunch program to Ross Lower School and builds a café in the Lower School Field House for grades K–4. The School’s first ever alma mater is composed and performed, and NYU Press publishes Ross School’s third and final book in a series: Educating the Whole Child for the Whole World: The Ross School Model and Education for the Global Era.
  • Ross participates in a conference on educating for Gross National Happiness in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
  • Ross continues to expand on the Curriculum Writing Project, started in 2009, to realize Founder Courtney Sale Ross’s vision of being able to provide the Ross curriculum and associated professional development to educators worldwide.
  • Ross launches Blackboard, a digital learning management platform. Students can access course materials, participate in class discussions, review grades, check homework, submit assignments, and takes tests from anywhere in the world. Parents can also access this information as well as important school forms and documents.

Ross School continues to thrive and celebrates its tenth graduating class. In its second year, the Ross School boarding program more than doubles to include 50 students from around the world and the United States. Ross also makes great strides in reducing its environmental footprint.
  • Ross becomes a member of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS).
  • Ross offers a summer program in English as a Second Language. Under the guidance of faculty and trained specialists, students ages 13–18 engage in five weeks of challenging instruction in all learning levels.
  • Ross School receives a grant from the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) for $242,028 to install solar panels at the Lower School.
  • Ross hosts its first Alumni Art Show at the Ross Gallery on November 19, 2009. The show features paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media and video from more than 20 alumni in the graduating classes of 2001–2009.


Ross School expands its global vision by introducing a boarding program. The program serves students in grades 7–12 from more than a dozen countries, including the United States.
  • Upper School athletic facilities are expanded with a new playing field, baseball diamond, outdoor basketball court, and six Har-tru tennis courts, which are bubbled seasonally to allow for year-round play. Ross Tennis and Baseball teams experience their first real home matches.
  • Ross Lower School builds an organic vegetable garden that allows students to connect to the land at an early age as they learn how to care for it throughout the seasons.
  • Ross offers Afternoons @Ross, which includes specialized tennis instruction for kids of all ages as well as intensive workshops designed for 14- to 17-year-olds in filmmaking, photography, fine arts, creative writing, and well-being.

Faculty, staff, and students from Ross School and the Ross Institute continue to work with Ross Global Academy and Tensta Gymnasium and are increasingly called on by schools both in the United States and internationally to share the Ross curricular and pedagogical model.
  • Ross joins 165 schools across the country in becoming a charter member of the Green Schools Alliance (GSA). GSA helps schools take action on climate change and the environment by reducing their carbon footprints.
  • SummerCamp @Ross opens and extends the Ross ethos to children of all ages who come to take advantage of engaging programs in the arts and sciences, natural history, and athletics. Ross also opens AdultCamp @Ross, where grownups can be kids again, with classes in yoga, painting and drawing, tennis and more.
  • Ross School opens an online School Store featuring a Ross athletic line, eco-friendly fashions, water bottles, reusable lunch bags, tote bags, backpacks, hats, and coffee mugs.


Ross School achieves its full size on the East End while also assisting in the development of a new public charter school in New York City: Ross Global Academy. Faculty professional development brings teachers from both schools together to develop curriculum and share best practices. International collaborations continue and grow through the Ross Institute and Ross Teacher Academy.
  • Ross opens on two campuses, the original East Hampton campus and the new Lower School campus in Bridgehampton, with 555 students in grades pre-nursery through 12.
  • The 1:1 laptop computer programs expands into the Middle School.
  • Harvard Professor Kurt Fischer is a scholar-in-residence for the spring term.
  • For the first time, a Ross School alumnus returns to Ross as a full-time employee.
  • A film by Ross student Alex Van Boer is selected for the Hamptons International Film Festival.


After intensive self-study, Ross is proud to be awarded accreditation, an objective assessment confirming that the School is on track with its mission and programs. At the same time, Ross seeks to expand in order to meet its original objective to serve students from nursery through grade 12. 
  • Fourth grade is added to Ross School, for a total of 346 students in grades 4–12.
  • Ross receives official notification of accreditation from MSA.
  • Ross receives the first-ever International Credential awarded by MSA, in recognition of the School’s exemplary programs promoting international and intercultural understanding.
  • Ross School’s commitment to service continues with numerous M-Term courses, including an independent study to help rebuild in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and a trip to South Africa to work with orphans and increase awareness of HIV prevention.
  • After intensive study and planning, Ross School merges with Morriss Center School, resulting in greater educational resources for all students for the coming year and thereafter.
  • The first Ross School Summer Concert to benefit the Steven J. Ross Scholarship fund features Aretha Franklin, and a Ross School Aretha Franklin Scholar is named.


Ross parents, always critically important members of the community, increasingly take responsibility for defining and supporting Ross programs. The School celebrates diversity in the student body. With accreditation comes full membership in the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
  • Ross School Parents Association hosts the first annual Starlight Ball to benefit the Steven J. Ross Scholarship Fund, enabling Ross to continue its commitment to providing need-based financial aid.
  • Ross is invited to participate in a conference at Harvard Graduate School of Education titled "Building Usable Knowledge in Mind, Brain, and Education."
  • Ross Middle School holds its first Science Fair.
  • A visiting team from Middle States Association unanimously recommends Ross School for accreditation.
  • Ross welcomes the first international student to attend Ross while living with a local host family.


After over a decade of growth, Ross School pauses to fully document its mission, academic programs, and student services and to reflect on its successes while looking forward. At the same time, the School continues sharing information and resources with other educational partners around the world through consulting and conferences.
  • Ross School initiates its accreditation process with Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, beginning with a two-year self-study in 10 areas.
  • International study groups travel to the Galapagos Islands, England, Honduras, France, and the Deep South.
  • Drs. Marcelo and Carola Suarez-Orozco, Harvard University education and immigration experts, are scholars-in-residence for the year.
  • The first Ross School/Institute joint publication, Globalization: Culture and Education in the New Millennium, is released.


Ross opens a fully co-educational school for the first time, drawing on the latest research to ensure academic engagement for both girls and boys. Partnerships continue, in the United States and overseas, as Ross School increasingly dedicates itself to the part of its mission that focuses on changing education worldwide. 
  • The Middle School welcomes boys in grades 5–8 and almost doubles in size as it becomes a co-educational school.
  • Students in fifth grade kick off a multiyear service project focusing on children and schools in Afghanistan.
  • High School students spend M-Term building houses and clean-burning cooking stoves in Honduras with Habitat for Humanity, the first of many such international service trips.
  • Ross begins a multiyear collaboration with its first international partner, Tensta Gymnasium in Sweden, scaling up Ross School’s global curricular approach and technological innovation.
  • Dr. Antonio Battro is Ross School’s first scholar-in-residence.

Ross School as a whole looks inward and comes together as a learning community while reflecting on national and international events leading up to and coming in the wake of September 11, 2001, taking advantage of the cultural historical lens provided by the Ross Spiral Curriculum. Students and faculty alike renew a serious and enduring commitment to understanding and serving others locally, nationally, and internationally. 
  • Students in the Middle and High School lead teach-ins about history and culture in the Middle East.
  • Seniors participate in local Habitat for Humanity service project during their fall retreat.
  • Ross School’s first semi-annual Empty Bowls service project benefits local food pantries and raises awareness of world hunger.
  • An international study group travels to Italy.
  • "FOCUS: An American Teenage Vision," a multiyear collaborative photography project, begins, involving 50 students from Ross and six other public and independent schools across the United States.
  • Mandarin Chinese is added to Spanish and French as an option for foreign language study.


The Media and Humanities Pavilion and the Senior Thesis Building open, providing students with access to state-of-the-art media facilities, including a professional-level television production studio as well as Senior Project spaces and a beautiful auditorium/lecture hall/theater set in the woods, which are visible through the windows that line the back wall of the building.
  • In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson visits and speaks to the School and the East End community about opportunity, economic and social equity, and the future of education.
  • “Sonic Convergence” debuts, conducted by Quincy Jones, featuring Clark Terry and the InterSchool Symphonic Orchestras, and comprising outstanding high school student musicians.
  • Nobel Prize winner Georges Charpak (physics, 1992) visits Ross for the first time, focusing on hands-on learning in the sciences.
  • International study groups travel to Cuba, Italy, New Mexico, and Peru.
  • Seniors present the School’s first Senior Projects, independent projects for which each student must submit an original product and process folio and also make a formal presentation to a panel. In this first year, projects include scientific research projects, theses, short fiction, and visual arts in a variety of media, photography, and film.
  • Ross School holds its first high school commencement for the 42 members of the Class of 2001.


The Sonic Convergence project continues. Ross School students travel to both partnering countries and follow up their collaborative face-to-face sessions with videoconferencing and virtual music exchanges. M-Term introduces another opportunity for international travel.
  • The first Ross varsity sports teams take the field, led by the girls field hockey squad and boys soccer.
  • The Center for Well-Being opens, providing the School with unparalleled resources for wellness, nutrition, and the performing arts.
  • The Ross School Café program begins to serve regional, organic, seasonal, and sustainable meals to students and faculty.
  • Winter Intersession (M-Term) is introduced. Winter Intersession is a three-week modular course offered between trimesters. Offerings include on-campus intensives, independent studies, and international travel courses. In the first year, travel courses include the Caribbean, England, Italy, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.


Ross School furthers the exchange of best practices through the expansion of partnerships with educational institutions locally, nationally, and internationally. New partnerships offer Ross students increased opportunities to cooperate with students across international and cultural boundaries.
  • The student body grows to 143 students in grades 5 through 10.
  • Construction begins on the Center for Well-Being and the Media and Humanities Pavilion.
  • Sonic Convergence, a virtual project with students from Ross School and schools in Sweden and China to explore the music of their own and other cultures in order to compose a multicultural symphony, begins.
  • Ross students join the Model United Nations, where students from all over the world assume the roles of ambassadors and debate current issues via Internet conferences.
  • Multigrade study groups travel to Quebec, Mexico, and Rome, continuing Ross School’s global focus.
  • Tenzin Chogyal Sangye, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, is Ross School’s first contemplative-in-residence, creating a Kalachakra sand mandala during his stay.


Several new projects bring technology into all aspects of the Ross learning experience. New partners and equipment amplify the capabilities of the Spiral Curriculum, bringing digital tools and intranet technologies into the interactive learning program. Faculty expand the curriculum to serve the School’s first high school students, including boys. Ross School adds a co-educational High School to the program, expanding to 96 students in grades 5 through 9.
  • The first of numerous multigrade study groups travels to Greece.
  • The Ross School website,, is launched.
  • Intel Corporation joins Ross School in a strategic alliance and donates equipment to the School, initiating the laptop program in the High School.
  • Yamaha Corporation becomes a partner, integrating technology into the Performing Arts curriculum.
  • Washington Irving High School joins Ross School and Salamanca High School to form the first urban-suburban-rural school triad.
  • Digital tool technology is infused throughout the entire educational infrastructure.


Outcomes-based assessment is introduced in addition to traditional testing, allowing students to demonstrate mastery of curricular content in a number of different ways. Students store, reflect on, and share their work in a digital portfolio.
  • The Ross School student body grows to 48 girls.
  • Ross School’s first team, girls field hockey, competes with other schools at home games on local fields and away games on opponent’s fields.
  • Students shoot one of the school’s first video documentaries, Baymen, tracing the lives of local fishermen and their interrelation with local ecosystems.
  • The first Ross School Winter Concert is performed at the Bay Street Theatre.
  • Green Guide, an environmental newsletter, lists Ross School among the nation's top 10 in areas such as saving energy and serving organic food.
  • Seventh graders mount Abstract Café, the first annual seventh grade exhibition featuring local artists, in the Ross School Gallery.


Ross School programs expand through technological partnerships, educational mentoring, and faculty professional development for Ross teachers. Media projects document curricular development and contribute to educational dialogue at local and national levels.
  • Thirty-one girls are enrolled at Ross School in grades 5–7.
  • Seventh grade participates in study trip to Rome and creates a website for their journey.
  • Ross School’s first dramatic production, Innana, is written and performed by the fifth grade on stage and film.
  • Programs for faculty professional development, assessment, recruitment, and curricular planning are inaugurated with the first faculty summer retreat.


William Irwin Thompson and Ralph Abraham, founding Ross mentors, outline the Cultural History curriculum for grades K–12, introducing the concept of a spiral narrative with an interdisciplinary focus. The curriculum aims to educate the whole child and to focus on periods of rapid cultural transformation throughout history. Collaboration with other schools, universities, and educational experts adds strength to the program and connects Ross to others locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Ross School grows to 12 girls in grades 5 and 6.
  • The curriculum in grades 5 through 7 is formalized, focusing on the development of Near Eastern civilizations (1500–1000 BCE) in the fifth grade; Ancient Greece, Mexico, and China (1000 BCE–300 CE) in the sixth grade; and the Mediterranean period of 300–1400 CE in the seventh grade.


The content and aims of the Ross educational philosophy are shaped by new communications technologies, methods of scientific discovery, and international cultural awareness. Ross undertakes collaborative pedagogical research in curriculum planning and assessment with Harvard University’s Project Zero. Localized, site-based learning is enhanced by expanded facilities in East Hampton.
  • Ross School is officially established with a charter from the State of New York.
  • Eight girls are enrolled in fifth grade.
  • As part of their studies in Cultural History and Science, the students and their teachers travel to Western Europe and the Galapagos.


Research on educational practices in diverse cultures throughout history begins. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and his experience with children's museum discovery methods are incorporated into the Ross teaching practices.
  • The Ross Home School Project develops out of the Travel School, with six girls enrolled in the fourth grade.
  • Students study Colonial American History and develop a sister-school relationship with the Salamanca City Central School District and the Allegheny Seneca Reservation in upstate New York.


A rapidly changing world of new technologies and geopolitics creates a pressing need for new models of education that will help prepare children for global citizenship. Interdisciplinary and project-based learning emerge as the foundation of the Ross program.
  • The Travel School is founded, with three girls in attendance during the first year of the program.
  • Students and teachers travel in Asia and the Southwest United States.