About our History and Founder


“Mizzentop has been more than just a school to me. Here I learned the importance of working with others. Here I also learned to take responsibility for my actions.”
– Angus E., ‘10about us photo 2

Mizzentop's History

Mizzentop Day School opened in 1998, serving fifty children in pre-kindergarten through first grade. The location was The Lowell Thomas Center at Christ Church on Quaker Hill. Mizzentop answered a community need for increased educational options including small class size, individually tailored learning for pre-school through elementary grades, and a before and after school program. Parent demand quickly outpaced the school's expectations during the first year as 1999 saw even more families become part of the MDS community.

By the 2000-2001 school year, Mizzentop opened filled to capacity and served pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. In just two years the program grew to include art, music, drama, computer, physical education, French, festivals, plays, over night field trips and vacation programs

In 2002, 165 students entered a new facility, located in the Village of Pawling.

At the heart of the Mizzentop Day School experience is a dedicated staff that believes in the philosophy and mission that embraces the whole child. Mizzentop's goal has been to nurture children to be lifelong learners who will discover the joy and satisfaction of building skills while acquiring knowledge in a safe and academically challenging setting.

What does "Mizzentop" mean?

Long before the construction of Christ Church and The Lowell Thomas Center on Quaker Hill, stood the Mizzentop Hotel. This beautiful hotel was completed in 1881, and was the conception of Albert Akin. This 165-room hotel operated for over 50 years, serving rail riders and vacationers from New York City. The hotel was named by Admiral John Lorimer Worden, former commander of the Civil War ship "Monitor" and Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Since the hotel views of the Harlem Valley and Catskill Mountains were so spectacular, he named the hotel "Mizzentop" after one of the highest points on a ship - the mizzen mast. Due to the fact that the school was originally situated on top of Quaker Hill, it was befitting to name it Mizzentop Day School.

Our Founder

Lisa Daniels, Founder of Mizzentop Day School

Hundreds of students have benefited thanks to the initiative of Mizzentop Day School’s Founding Head, Lisa Daniels. She, along with a dedicated group of supporters, founded MDS as a small preschool on Quaker Hill in Pawling in 1998. That started a new chapter in the history of education in Pawling and its surrounding communities.

During the 2007-2008 school year Mizzentop celebrated its 10th year in operation, and welcomed Steve Cash as its second head of school. Bringing with him over two decades of experience, he has helped Mizzentop achieve many new goals as we move forward.

Much has changed since day one, and so many families have been touched by the school, its solid philosophy and mission, and its dedicated staff. Mizzentop will always be grateful for the vision and determination of Lisa Daniels. It seems inevitable that more exciting years are on the horizon, as MDS works towards its pursuit of continuous improvement and progress.