Mission & History
CGPS nurtures each student’s unique passions and talents inside and outside the classroom, unifying and inspiring members of its community in a rigorous but relaxed learning environment, preparing them for the finest colleges and instilling in them the confidence, ethical values and sense of purpose to embrace challenges, to achieve their dreams and to improve the world.
Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School is committed to a rigorous and comprehensive college preparatory curriculum with a serious emphasis on art, music and drama. The academic program is structured and balanced within the liberal arts and sciences in order to develop each student’s intellectual potential to its fullest.
The program includes English, language arts, world language, mathematics, science, current and historical social studies, technology, physical education and the fine arts. At the same time, the School recognizes its fundamental responsibility to develop good character, standards of conduct and a sense of social responsibility within the School community. The development of good citizenship in our students is regarded as a crucial and integral part of their education. Our School is strongly committed to coeducation and feels that a relaxed but structured social setting where boys and girls can learn together is the most effective educational environment. The School is also committed to a financial aid program designed to maintain diversity and balance—racial, ethnic, and financial— within our School community.
Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School has a responsibility to our students, their parents, and society at large to help each child become a well-educated, responsible, caring and productive person. Cultivating our students’ minds, supplying them with a substantial fund of knowledge and providing them with the basis for making sound ethical judgments remain the foundations of the School’s mission and philosophy.
Our community has a rich history dating back to 1764.
Originally established as a boys’ preparatory school for Kings College (or Columbia University as it’s known today), Columbia Grammar School functioned for 100 years under the direct auspices of the college, providing more than half of their student body. In 1864, the School’s relationship with the college ended and became a proprietary institution, later achieving non-profit status in 1941.
In 1956, we welcomed more students into our community when we merged with the neighboring Leonard School for Girls and became a co-educational institution. Leonard’s interconnected brownstones on West 94th Street are home today to our preK through second grade students.
In 1969, the School’s name was officially changed to Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. Shortly thereafter, we began a tremendous physical expansion project , which today is now the largest campus in Manhattan, educating nearly 1,300 students from PreK to Grade 12.
In 2014, we proudly celebrated our 250th anniversary as one of the oldest independent schools in the United States. In 2017, Dr. William M. Donohue was appointed as only the 14th Head of School in the School’s history.