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Equity and Inclusion

From our founding, educating students from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds has been part of Commonwealth’s mission. In and beyond the classroom, our students celebrate and critically explore the many facets of diversity—race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, socioeconomic background, political opinion, and more—across the spectrum of human experience. We strive to ensure all of our students can avail themselves of every opportunity at Commonwealth and that the whole of our community (students, teachers, and families alike) feels fully enfranchised and empowered to speak up and be heard. This work, by its nature, must be ongoing, and we commit to sharing our plans and progress as we build on the interconnected diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives below.

 

DEI Goals and Objectives at Commonwealth

  • Ensure every student, regardless of background, thrives while enrolled and graduates prepared to do work of distinction after Commonwealth and in the communities they go on to serve.
  • Teach, model, and encourage open and skillful discussion about questions of race, class, gender, and religion, in and outside class.
  • Ensure our curriculum not only exposes students to a wide array of cultures and voices but cultivates a desire to engage fully with the works of diverse people.
  • Make education and discussion across ethnic, religious, and social spectrums a part of the school routine and cultivate a culture that encourages all to participate meaningfully in the academic life of the school.
  • Empower students within the community to advocate for themselves and respond constructively to conflicts and challenges.
  • Ensure that financial assistance to families extends beyond meeting demonstrated need for tuition and fees to include resources, as needed, for standardized testing, tutoring, travel, summer experiences, and independent projects.
  • Develop outreach and communications programs that will raise Commonwealth’s profile in historically underrepresented communities.
  • Make every effort to find, attract, and retain faculty, staff, and board members from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, with one goal of the process bringing on individuals committed and eager to play a role in advancing DEI.
  • Actively work to make all families feel welcome and enfranchised, and provide orientation to help them understand the culture and expectations at Commonwealth.
Lisa Palmero McGrath and Jennifer Borman ’81 having a conversation in our Head's Office.

Conversations with the Head: Lisa Palmero McGrath, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Jennifer Borman ’81 and Lisa Palmero McGrath, reflect on their first year at Commonwealth, the COVID-19 pandemic, DEI work, and what they love about the city of Boston.
 

  

School Programming

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Access and Affordability

Since our founding, we have been dedicated to increasing access and welcoming as many qualified students as possible, and we partner with families to meet the cost of a Commonwealth education.

Let's Make It Work

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Affinity and Alliance Groups

Student-led affinity and alliance groups foster connection and camaraderie among and across our many varied identities. 

Connect with Classmates

Dive In Commonwealth

Dive In Commonwealth is an academic enrichment program for historically underserved middle school students. It's exciting. It's rigorous. It's fun. And it's free.

Spend Your Summers with Us

  

Curriculum

Our curriculum exposes students to a wide array of cultures and voices, and facilitates discussion across ethnic, religious, and social spectrums. Some curricular highlights:
 
  • U.S. History explores deeply the role of racial oppression and economic inequity in the unfolding narrative of the country’s history.
  • Spanish students explore questions of class and identity through the study of Latin American history and culture, as well as the portrayal of its people in literature and film.
  • English 11 focuses on Black voices in America and their explorations of race, featuring works by James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, Langston Hughes, and Kiese Laymon.
  • Medieval Islamic Mathematics introduces students to the Muslim accomplishments often neglected by math and science textbooks, from pioneering new solution strategies for the great problems of geometry that had been left unsolved by Euclid and other ancient Greek thinkers to developing powerful computational methods for decimal arithmetic and extraction of roots and compiling tables of trigonometric ratios.
  • Our ninth-grade seminar, with its City of Boston immersion, explores themes of inclusion/exclusion, class, white privilege, gentrification, environmental racism, and the limits of the market in resolving issues of access and equality.
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Course Spotlight: Printmaking

As a historically activist medium, printmaking allows for a wealth of discussion about equity and inclusion. Our Printmaking class decentralizes the western narrative, exploring prehistoric stencils found across Asia and Europe, Sumerian relief printing, and the Chinese invention of movable type. A poster-making assignment specifically addresses how printmaking has been used as a tool for activism, focusing on revolutionary printmakers in Oaxaca and artists of color making work in the civil rights movement.

Featured above: print by Pamina Falk '20
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