Nestling at the foot of the Aventine, the most exclusive of Rome’s seven hills, and a stone’s throw from the city’s great imperial sites, our international, non-profit, non-denominational high school for boarding and day students has built its academic program and reputation on the classical heritage of our host country, Italy, and the rigor of two prestigious educational models: the American, independent college-preparatory curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
At three hundred students, we are small; forty-seven boarders constitute our ‘nuclear’ family. The experiential dimension of our curriculum, which includes an extensive trip program, confers a ‘hands-on’ feel to our academics, and our location, in the heart of the Eternal City and at the crossroads of Europe, provides a rich cultural context in which to learn and grow. The faculty at St. Stephen’s are scholars, artists, writers, and scientists who are passionate about their subjects and illuminate the minds and lives of the students they teach each day and every year. Our students come from all over the world to pursue their high school education in an atmosphere of scholarly endeavor, creative exploration, and multicultural exchange. The motto of the School’s founders in 1964 articulates the dedication to academic excellence shared by students and faculty alike:
Mens (mind): the ability to think critically, creatively and scientifically, coupled with a good dose of natural curiosity;
Voluntas (will): the motivation to succeed and the potential to excel academically;
Gratia (influence): interpreted as personal and social integrity, cooperation and concern for others and commitment to community, both local and global.
Watch our students talk about how these principles underpin the five core values of care, scholarship, independence, integrity, and creativity that we embrace and practice as a community everyday...
St. Stephen’s provides a holistic and transformative college preparatory experience in an inspiring, collaborative environment anchored by the highest standards of academic excellence that lays the foundation for continued academic achievement and a fulfilling life.
In 1964, St. Stephen's School was established as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation in Connecticut, fueled solely by a bold dream. The School’s four founders, led by Dr. John O. Patterson, headmaster for thirteen years at the Kent School in Connecticut, had nothing tangible to offer the new corporation. They brought, instead, their dream and a combined total of more than one hundred years of experience in secondary school education. The founders included two longtime Kent associates of Dr. Patterson: Raydon Ronshaugen, former Assistant Headmaster and Curriculum Director at Kent School; Robert E.K. Rourke, a brilliant teacher and author who was a leader in American secondary school mathematics education; and F.D.L. Stewart, who had extensive teaching and administrative experience as a colleague of E.K. Rourke’s at Pickering College, Ontario. Together, they focused their expertise on developing a strong program of instruction to meet the entrance requirements of the finest American colleges.
The School, they agreed, “must be more than just another school; it must be a pace-setter for American education abroad, whose only excuse for being is excellence.”
The school attracted twenty-six teachers from renowned American prep schools like Choate Rosemary Hall, Philips Andover, Kent, Eaglebrook, and Gillman. They were joined by faculty from Italy, France, Norway, and other nations; all united in their dedication to bringing this pioneering academic vision to life. Together, they welcomed a diverse student body of one hundred and fifty students, half of whom were boarders representing various corners of the globe, from Addis Ababa to Medford, Oregon.
St. Stephen’s School provided a first-class curriculum with the best elements of a classical liberal arts education, including two years of Latin or Greek. Its founders chose Rome because they believed the city to be "the symbol and repository of the enduring ethical, cultural and religious values of the West" and "one of the most cosmopolitan international crossroads of the modern world."
In 1975, St. Stephen's became the first school in Italy to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Two years later, it celebrated its first two IB Diploma graduates. One of the first schools in Europe to adopt the International Baccalaureate, the School’s IB program produces strong results with an average diploma score of 35 points.
Throughout its history, St. Stephen's School has earned a well-deserved reputation for academic rigor, both in Rome and beyond. After relocating twice, the school now resides in a spacious villa that was once a convent, nestled in the heart of Rome's historic center, within close proximity to cultural marvels such as the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and the Roman Forum.
While experiencing rapid growth over the past two decades, the school has remained committed to engaging with both the local and international communities in Rome and providing support to U.S. citizens living abroad. The founders' original dream of establishing a school driven by the pursuit of excellence, the holistic development of its community members, and maintaining the highest standards in all aspects remains vibrant and alive today.
Set against the backdrop of Rome's unparalleled historical and artistic heritage, St. Stephen's School embraces a global perspective, a commitment to service, and a dedication to fostering world citizenship. It stands as a testament to the founders' visionary aspirations and remains firmly rooted in its tradition of academic excellence.