Empowering Girls since 1869

Nearly 150 years ago, we were founded by Miss Agnes Irwin, the great-great granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, first Dean of Radcliffe College, and advocate for the education of girls and young women — a radical concept in her time.

Today, Miss Irwin's legacy serves as our inspiration. In our Upper, Middle, and Lower schools, everything our students experience is rooted in what's best for girls: how they learn, how their brains develop, and what their social and emotional needs are. We know that when they feel known, understood, supported, and challenged, girls are empowered to be their very best selves.

Agnes Irwin Fast Facts

$4.0M

tuition assistance awarded to the 2018-19 student body

85

number of zip codes represented
in our student body

25%

of our student body identify as students of color

6:1

average student-faculty ratios

22%

of the Class of 2018 were recruited athletes and will play their primary sport in college

46

AIS graduates currently attend an Ivy League school

Leadership and Legacy

Head of School

Dr. Wendy Hill, neuroscientist and former Provost and Dean of Faculty at Lafayette College, lives her legacy as our Head of School.

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Board of Trustees

It takes a village to lead a premier all-girls' academic institution. Meet the distinguished leaders who come together and provide counsel for our school.

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Strategic Plan

Leading in girls' education requires vision. Learn about our Strategic Plan, which provides the framework for our school based our legacy and aspirations for the future.

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Our Mission

The Agnes Irwin School empowers girls to learn, to lead, and to live a legacy. 

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The Agnes Irwin Experience

Only at Agnes Irwin: The Center for the Advancement of Girls

We think of it as our superpower. Our Center for the Advancement of Girls helps infuse girl-centered research into the Agnes Irwin experience, impacting our curriculum, creating developmentally relevant programming, and forging strategic partnerships with leading researchers and institutions of higher learning that shape our student experience.

Learn about The Center

Our History

We've been empowering girls since 1869. Browse through Agnes Irwin's history — from the early days in Center City, to our beautiful 26-acre campus in Rosemont — and meet a few of the notable women who have walked our halls along the way.   

1869

At just 28, Agnes Irwin, the great-great granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, becomes head of the West Penn Square Seminary for Young Ladies. She had a vision for the school (later called The Agnes Irwin School) that would make educating girls its mission.

1875

“West Penn Square Seminary for Young Ladies” becomes “Miss Irwin’s of Philadelphia.” It was one of the first schools devoted entirely to girls' education in the U.S.

1881

The School moves from the Irwins' family residence at 19th and Spruce to 2011 Delancey Place.

1894

Sophy Dallas Irwin, Agnes Irwin’s sister, becomes Headmistress.

1897

The Alumnae Association is formed to promote "a feeling of kinship to the school, and foster and extend school spirit."

1910

Anne Shirk, Class of 1911, forms the Athletic Association. The school is divided into blue and gold teams for athletic competitions. First extramural game played.

1915

After the deaths of Agnes Irwin and her sister, Sophy, Josephine A. Natt becomes the school's headmistress and renames it The Agnes Irwin School. She chooses the school's emblem, inspired by Sophy Irwin's old bookplate, featuring a drawing of her ancient Mediterranean oil lamp.

1916

Ms. Natt, along with the sophomore class, decides to feature the school emblem on the class ring. This ring is now presented to students on Sophomore Day.

1928

Bertha Laws, Class of 1897, succeeds Natt as Headmistress.

1933

The Agnes Irwin School relocates to the Isaac B. Clothier estate in Wynnewood.

1934

Standard uniforms are introduced, with a choice of four colors. The Agnes Irwin School receives accreditation from the Middle States Association of College and Secondary Schools.

1942

The first May Fair is held to raise money for war orphans — although the Maypole dances aren't introduced until nine years later, by Lucetta Sharp Alderfer. "She used carpet binding to strengthen and stiffen the ribbons before dying the reinforced ribbons blue and gold."

1944

Anne Farr Bartol and Edith M. Murphy are named Associate Headmistresses.

1961

The Agnes Irwin School relocates to its current location in Rosemont.

1962

Anne Stouffer Lenox becomes Headmistress.

1963

The wise old owl is chosen as the school mascot, a suggestion from Patty Pittman, Class of 1963. Today the owl is known as Gus.

1971

The first Medieval Day — later to be known as Medieval Night — is held. First Special Studies Program takes place for sophomore and junior classes, an idea conceived by Associate Headmistress Adele Griffin Sands.

1981

Adele Griffin Sands becomes Headmistress.

1986

Mary Kessler becomes Headmistress. Full-day kindergarten initiated. The Community Service Program begins.

1989

Margaret Penney Moss becomes Headmistress. During her term, the title is changed to Head of School.

1991

The Agnes Irwin School chapter of The Cum Laude Society is formed, and its first students inducted.

1996

The Blue and Gold Society is launched in recognition of leadership support of The Agnes Irwin School.

1998

The Laurel Society, recognizing planned gift arrangements, established by Class of 1953 members Annabelle Pierson Irey and Mary Pat McPhearson. 

2005

Martha Cutts becomes Head of School. First PreKindergarten class begins. First Agnes Irwin School/Episcopal Academy (AIS/EA) Day of athletic competition is held. 

2007

Helen Marter becomes Head of School.

2009

Mary Seppala becomes Head of School.

2011

On October 14, 2011 The Agnes Irwin School officially launches the Center for the Advancement of Girls.

Read more about CAG 

2014

Dr. Wendy Hill becomes Head of School.

2016

The Innovation Team, or iTeam, is formed in order to further integrate innovation, project-based learning, and interdisciplinary instruction into classroom practices.