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Dwight School
Dwight School

Dwight School is an independent college preparatory school located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Dwight offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum to students ages two through grade twelve. Approximately forty countries are represented among its student body.


Founded in 1872 by Julius Sachs as part of the Sachs Collegiate Institute, Dwight School was first known as "The Sachs School," then The Franklin School. Originally located on West 34th Street and Broadway, it relocated several times as it grew, ultimately moving to 18 West 89th Street in 1912. Sachs, a noted educator and author (and scion of the Goldman–Sachs family) headed the school until 1901 when he was appointed Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.[2]

In 1880, the New York School of Languages was founded on 15 West 43rd Street as an academy of classical studies. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University asked the school to pioneer a math and science program to replace traditional Greek and Latin as an entrance requirement. The New York School of Languages was later renamed Timothy Dwight School [3] in honor of that historic partnership.

Dwight School merged with the Bentley School in 1977, in order to add elementary and middle school programs to its curriculum.

In 1993, Dwight School merged with The Franklin School (which had adopted the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in 1980). In 1996, Dwight School became the first school in North America to offer the full International Baccalaureate (IB) program from preschool through grade 12.

With the opening in fall 2005 of Dwight's Early Childhood Division (formerly Woodside Preschool), the Dwight School' became the first school to offer the IB Primary Years Program for children ages three through five.

Today, one-third of Dwight's students come from overseas.[4]


Stephen H. Spahn has been the School's Chancellor and Headmaster since 1967 and is the longest-serving head of an independent school in New York City. Mr. Spahn serves on the Boards of the International Baccalaureate Fund and the Rubin Museum of Art. He was also a founding member of the Guild of International Baccalaureate Schools. Mr. Spahn holds a BA from Dartmouth College, where he was an All-American basketball player, Phi Beta Kappa, a Senior Fellow and an Intern at the United Nations under a 1926 Public Service Fellowship. He completed all coursework for a Ph.D. at Wadham College at Oxford University and Columbia University where he was an International Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Scholar before beginning his career as an educator. In 2011, Mr. Spahn was awarded the Lewis Hine Distinguished Service Award from the National Child Labor Committee.[5] The award, named for the acclaimed photographer who documented early 20th-century exploitation of child labor, is presented to individuals in the public eye who have shown a strong commitment to improving the lives of children.[6]

There are four co-educational divisions at Dwight School: The Riverside Campus (preschool-kindergarten) occupies three buildings on Riverside Boulevard between 66th–68th Streets. The Lower School (grades 1–5) is located on the Main Campus and occupies a brownstone at 17 West 88th Street. The Middle School (grades 6–8) and the Upper School (grades 9–12), are also located on the Main Campus but primarily use the buildings at 18 West 89th Street and 291 Central Park West. In 2012, the school added additional classrooms and athletics space by expanding into the adjoining brownstone located at 22 West 89th Street.

Within divisions, the grades are further separated into houses: Timothy House (grades 1–5), Bentley House (grades 6–8), Franklin House (grades 9–10), and Anglo House (grades 11–12). A dean oversees each house. An Executive Team consisting of the Head of School, Head of Upper School, Head of Middle School, and Head of Lower School manage the academic and pastoral areas of the school. The Head of School works closely with the School's Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, who also oversee Admissions and the Business office.

Admission to Dwight School is highly selective. Kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade are Dwight's largest entry points, with forty students entering kindergarten, fifteen entering sixth grade and twenty-five entering ninth grade. Each year, a smaller number of students are accepted in other grades. Dwight offers rolling admissions for international families due to the wide range of academic calendars around the world. The admissions process at Dwight School is based on school reports, teacher recommendations, ERB/ISEE test results, and student/parent interviews.

The Dwight Schools are an international network of campuses and programs, which include Dwight School in New York, Dwight School London in England, Dwight School Canada in Shawnigan Lake British Columbia, the Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School, in Shanghai, China [27] , Dwight School Seoul, and Dwight School Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which held its grand opening in September 2018.[7]

Dwight School's association with Dwight School London goes back over 40 years when Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of Dwight School New York opened the school. In 2008, what was known as Woodside Park International School was renamed as The North London International School (NLIS) and later renamed Dwight School London in 2012. Dwight London is now one of the leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools in the UK officially recognised to run all three IB programmes. In 2010, Dwight London opened a partner school in London called The Holmewood School(THSL) which aims to provide special education for children of high cognitive ability with difficulties associated with autism. In 2009, Dwight entered into the first joint diploma program in China with the Capital Normal High School, attached to Capital Normal University, in Beijing.[8] Through this program, each student receives a joint Capital Normal/Dwight School diploma with strong emphasis on English as a Second Language.[9]

In 2009, Dwight opened Dwight School Canada, located in the community of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, Canada.[10] Dwight Canada serves as a boarding school for up to two hundred students in grades six through twelve and is the only school in North America that offers three diploma options- the IB Diploma Programme, the Ministry-approved BC curriculum. and the US High School Diploma. The first leadership academy, Dwight Global Leaders Academy, took place at Dwight Canada in 2010[11]

In 2010, Dwight was chosen from 180 foreign schools by the government of Seoul, Korea, to open Dwight School Seoul as a model IB School for five hundred forty students in grades K-12. Opened in fall 2012, the school is housed within a new multimillion-dollar media and culture complex, Seoul's Digital Media City.[7]

Academics – International Baccalaureate Program

In 1996, Dwight became the second school in North America to offer all three International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs. Critical thinking, emphasis on oral and written communication, experiential learning, and leadership opportunity are central aspects of an IB education. The IB offers three programs of international education and, with them, the prospect of a continuous international educational experience from early childhood to pre-university age. Any school wishing to offer any of the International Baccalaureate Programs and attain IB World School status must first go through an authorization process, designed to ensure schools are well prepared to implement the programs successfully. The requirements for authorization are the same for all schools, even though the process is administered slightly differently in each IB region.

The IB Primary Years Program, for students ages 3 to 12, focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. Specific subjects taught at The Dwight School include Language Arts, Math, Second Language (Spanish or Mandarin), Physical education, Library/Technology, Art, and Music.

The IB Middle Years Program, for students in grades 6–10, encourages students to understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world so that they may become critical and reflective thinkers. The program consists of eight subject groups integrated through five areas of interaction. Students are required to study their native tongue, a second language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education, and technology. In the final year of the program, students engage in a personal project, which allows them to demonstrate the understandings and skills they have developed throughout the program.

The IB Diploma Program is designed as an academically challenging and balanced program that prepares students for success at university and life beyond. The program is normally taught over two years, in grades eleven and twelve, and has gained recognition and respect from the world's leading universities. Dwight offers over 30 advanced college level IB courses in the IB Diploma Program. To complete IB Diploma requirements, an independent 4,000 word Extended Essay (college level research) must be completed in a subject of the student's choosing. All students must engage in 150 hours of experiential learning involving Creativity, Action & Service. Students in the IB Diploma Program pursue research or undertake independent projects through internships in local institutions, ranging from universities, businesses, museums and art galleries. A Certificate Program is available to students who do not wish to pursue the full IB Diploma Program and instead take some elective courses. Approximately half the graduating seniors receive the full IB diploma.


The demographic breakdown of the 574 students enrolled for the 2013–2014 school year is as follows. There is no data for demographic breakdown by sex.:[1]

  • Asian – 5.1%
  • Black – 3.8%
  • Hispanic – 3.1%
  • White – 59.2%
  • Multiracial – 28.8%

Notable alumni

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