In his first address to students, Head of School Matt Levinson P '21 shares his perspective on what it means to "hit the brakes."
Mission & History
The mission of The Pingry School is to foster in students a lifelong commitment to intellectual exploration, individual growth, and social responsibility by inspiring and supporting them to strive for academic and personal excellence within an ethical framework that places the highest value on honor and respect for others.
Our School mission is exemplified on campus on a daily basis—from teachers who motivate their students to achieve more than they thought was possible, to the thoughtful discussions of classmates asking how they can support one of their peers. Our mission is also essential to realizing our vision: preparing students to be global citizens and leaders in the 21st century. In preparing our students to succeed in the future, we focus on four key pillars:
These four pillars, and our Honor Code that underlies them, continue to reinforce the goals and values set forth by Pingry's founder, Dr. John Francis Pingry, over 150 years ago. Learn more about Pingry's rich history below, or through a curated view of our archive.
He founded the school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1861 to provide both scholastic training and moral education for boys. By exposing them to the rigors of a strict classical education, Dr. Pingry imparted the mental discipline they needed to meet the challenges of their future life.
With firm adherence to these highest of academic, personal, and social values, he established a standard for private education that has defined The Pingry School’s legacy throughout its history. Today, more than ever, that standard and heritage continue to shape our mission for the future.
Dr. Pingry was the first in a long line of strong and steady school leaders that continues to this day. Below are the Headmasters, now Head of School, who have guided Pingry through the years.
- John F. Pingry (1861-1892)
- William H. Corbin (1892-1897)
- Frank H. Robson (1897-1899)
- Walter R. Marsh (1899-1907)
- S. Archibald Smith (1907-1915)
- David Magie (1915-1917)
- C. Mitchell Froelicher (1917-1920)
- C. Bertram Newton (1920-1936)
- E. Laurence Springer (1936-1961)
- Charles B. Atwater '31 (1961-1970)
- H. Westcott Cunningham '38 (1970-1980)
- David C. Wilson '59 (1980-1987)
- John Hanly (1987-2000)
- John L. Neiswender (2000-2005)
- Nathaniel E. Conard (2005-2019)
- Matt Levinson (2019-present)
U.S. Congressman Charles N. Fowler, who ultimately served 26 years as president of the Board of Trustees, was responsible for the plan that relocated the campus to a much larger site, constructed a new $10,000 (budgeted) facility, and appointed Corbin to succeed Dr. Pingry as headmaster. During the 1893-1894 school year—the first full year at the Parker Road location—enrollment jumped from 74 to 100, primarily due to the addition of the preparatory department, which admitted boys between the ages of nine and 14.
In 1949, the faculty adopted the Honor Code as well. Over the years, the Honor Code has continued to embody Dr. Pingry’s original values and focus on character.
Property was selected just across the city line in Hillside, less than a mile from the old school property. Ground was broken on June 20, 1951 for a new campus spanning 26 acres. The entire student body (450 boys at the time) helped with the move in January, 1953. In 1955, maximum enrollment was fixed at 500 students.
But expansion was not just about the numbers. The move to Hillside was a significant step in Pingry's transformation into a larger, more cosmopolitan institution. A transportation web that included chartered buses, faculty-driven station wagons, and trains began to connect Pingry to a widening radius of towns in New Jersey. Pingry followed the country day philosophy of fully involving students in academics, sports, and after-school activities while returning them home in time for dinner.
With the new school structure, primary school classes took place at the Short Hills Campus, and Middle and Upper School classes took place at the Hillside Campus.
The School made its best efforts to accommodate a strong athletics program for its female students. Field hockey, track, basketball, tennis, softball, and co-ed swimming were all available to them in their first year.
The Martinsville Campus was officially dedicated in May 1984 to Fred Bartenstein, Jr., Chair of the Board of Trustees and a major force behind the move. The school building's modern architecture mirrored the very forward-thinking philosophy that inspired its relocation: by moving 20 miles west, toward the future intersections of Interstates 78 and 287, Pingry was accessible to a growing population of potential students in towns like Summit, Short Hills, Madison, Morristown, and Bernardsville, among other areas.
It opened to rave reviews, providing state-of-the-art spaces for music, drama, dance, and the visual arts, responding to the needs of a dramatically enlarged student body that was enrolling in art electives in force!
Grade 6 students also moved from the Short Hills Campus to the Martinsville Campus to join their Middle School peers.
Although the change did not require a physical move of the campus, it did change the official name of the campus, allowing visitors—and mail!—to find their way to Pingry more easily.
The newly-designed campus reflects cutting-edge improvements in educational spaces. Among many other upgrades, large commons areas encourage collaboration and moveable furniture allows for both group and individual work to occur beyond the confines of the classroom.
The state-of-the-art facility includes eight squash courts, a strength and conditioning center, and an expansive flexible-use space for athletes to perform running and agility drills. The facility is also home to Pingry's Athletics Hall of Fame.