The Portrait of a TAFT SCHOOL Graduate

The Taft School opened its doors in 1890 with a broad yet singular mission: to educate the whole student. What does that mean today? A Taft education begins with rigorous academics, but it is so much more. Learning takes place in almost every corner of our campus, and through nearly every interaction—in community gatherings, on the playing field, and one-on-one with students and faculty who have come to Taft from across the globe. A Taft education is built on intellectual curiosity, inclusivity, compassion, respect, and integrity. Our students are engaged and resourceful; they leave us with a sense of self, a sense of place, and a readiness to take on the world. Our Portrait of a Graduate, summarized in these pages, is a roadmap for realizing our founding mission.

Habits of Mind

Taft students follow a rigorous course of study built around more than 200 courses. Throughout, they learn to effectively apply knowledge in ways that deepen understanding, while embracing the growth that comes from facing down challenges.

Honor and Integrity

One of founding tenets of our school is based on Mr. Taft’s belief that character, above all else, determines success in life. Our Honor Code places the responsibility and understanding of academic honesty and personal integrity firmly on the shoulders of each student; every member of the Taft community accepts that responsibility, and commits to upholding the school’s core values.

A Compassionate Community

Taft is a global community whose members come from more than 30 states and over 40 countries, and from all walks of life. Learning what it is like to walk in another’s shoes is an important part of a Taft education. Through daily life, focused coursework, programs like our Global Leadership Institute, and cultural experiences (including service travel and Morning Meeting speakers), Taft students develop a moral worldview that guides them in creating a compassionate, inclusive, and socially just community.

Resourceful & Engaged

Taft students love to learn. This is a place where intellectual curiosity is not only encouraged, but is developed in ways that effectively catapult learning. Our students actively engage in the classroom, and through independent projects. They produce albums in our recording studio, spearhead scientific research, write plays, and build robots.

Serve Unselfishly

Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret—not to be served, but to serve—is more than our school motto, it is our way of life. Taft students volunteer on campus, in the greater community, and across the globe. They engage in traditional community service opportunities, like mentoring local youth and working at area soup kitchens. They also travel the world through service-based programs, start their own nonprofits, and commit to an academic understanding of global service through our innovative and progressive Global Leadership Institute and Global Studies and Service programs and curricula.

A Capacity for Creation

Art is the most elemental form of expression. It challenges the mind, nurtures the soul, and spurs innovation. Mr. Taft understood the vital role art plays in shaping the spirit and intellect of his students. Our graduates are collaborators. They are disciplined thinkers. They are intuitive, imaginative creators, and observers in all areas of their lives.


Taft students learn to think deeply, write clearly, and speak confidently. They express themselves in ways that are both personal and purposeful. They are encouraged to explore all forms of self-expression, and to celebrate their rewards

A Common Purpose

No one goes it alone. Taft is a warm, welcoming, and connected community, where students live and learn cooperation and collaboration in all that they do. Working together with a common purpose always brings us closer to our goals.


Taft students learn to work independently and to think independently. They are self-reliant, disciplined, and courageous about taking risks in their thinking and in their actions.


A community filled with opportunity is a community filled with choices. From what courses to take and what extracurriculars to join, to what to eat for dinner and what to do on a Saturday night, making informed and healthy choices brings balance and well-being. At Taft, teachers, advisors, peer mentors, coaches, dorm faculty, and administrators not only guide students in their decision-making today, but share decision-making skills and strategies that can last a lifetime.

A sense of self. A sense of place.

Learning requires reflection—a consideration of context, meaning, and impact. Our students reflect upon themselves as learners to increase self-awareness, and to understand their place in the global community.