Co-ed independent day school in Boston's Back Bay for academically adventurous students in grades 9–12


From the very first day of English 9, the emphasis in our English courses is on careful reading and critical thinking. As you learn to practice these arts, you’ll discover how much more pleasure you begin to take in what you read.

Commonwealth’s sequence of full-year English courses in ninth through eleventh grades presents readers with a wide range of texts in carefully ordered juxtaposition. In your work in class and at home you focus on the authors’ language, their imaginative vision, and the artful strategies they devise.

As each year progresses, you encounter increasingly challenging works and pursue great and elusive questions. You come to understand that questions, not answers, are the reward that literature offers.

Centered on close reading, a changing roster of half-credit electives (mostly for eleventh and twelfth graders) addresses your more specific literary interests (Shakespeare, for example, or Modernism).

As a senior, you have a choice of English courses: the more traditional English 12 or Reasons for Writing, where you will use your critical reading and writing skills in a variety of modes that are not strictly literary—for example, the personal essay, science writing, the editorial, argumentation.

Our English courses challenge students to think critically about who gets to tell their story. In critiquing their own and each other’s writing, students engage openly and imaginatively with others’ points of view and experiences. Authors such as James Baldwin, Chief Seattle, Kyoko Mori, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jamaica Kincaid, Karen Joy Fowler, Joe Brainard, and Sei Shonagon feature across the English curriculum. Texts include The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Omeros by Derek Walcott.

I used to read books in black and white, but three years of Commonwealth English classes have taught me to see all the colors."



Please note: electives may change from year to year.

Meet the English Faculty

Catherine Brewster

B.A., Yale
M.Phil., University of Oxford

Don Conolly

B.A., Stanford University
M.A., University of Washington

Dan Cottle

B.A., Hampshire College
M.S., University of Vermont

Mara Dale

B.A., Williams
M.A., Harvard University
Ph.D., Harvard University

Judyta Frodyma

B.A., University of Toronto
Diplôme, Université Paris 1: Panthéon-Sorbonne
M.St., University of Oxford
D.Phil., University of Oxford

Aaron Kerner

B.A., Chapman University
M.F.A., Emerson College

Michael Samblas

B.A., Hampshire College
M.A., Boston University

Rikita Tyson

B.A., Amherst College
M.A., Harvard University
Ph.D., Harvard University