Meet Our Head of School
Commonwealth School welcomed Jennifer Borman ’81 as our sixth (and first alumna!) Head of School in 2021. Ever since, she has been rediscovering the Commonwealth community that so electrified her as a student more than forty years ago.
Get to Know Jennifer
I feel about being a head of school a lot of what I felt as a teacher, which is it's endlessly creative. It's endlessly relational. You empower other people to do things they didn't know they could do and grow in ways they might not have known they could grow. And I find that exhilarating.
"Ms. Borman had always seen in Commonwealth 'a marrow-deep commitment to intellectual excellence and spirited embrace of community, within and beyond its walls.''"
English teacher Catherine Brewster, herself a twenty-one-year veteran of Commonwealth School, recently sat down with Jennifer to learn more about the path that led her back to 151 Comm Ave.
"I really do hope to come into the next six months, if not longer, without a lot of preconceptions. I want to learn from others about where the work is now. I think it's going to be a learning curve for me. And I'm really eager for and open to feedback along the way."
Jennifer deftly navigated the headship transition in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—a trying experience, certainly, but not as different from "normal" as one might think.
“I love working with smart, committed people,” Borman says. “It pushes my own thinking and gives me a broader repertoire of ideas to draw from when I'm around people like the ones who work and volunteer at Commonwealth.”
Not long after accepting the headship, Jennifer shared some insights into her leadership philosophy with this fall 2020 interview.
Upon graduating from Commonwealth School in 1981, Jennifer attended Brown University and graduated with a B.A. in English. Subsequently, she completed extensive studies in the doctoral program for Teacher Education and Education Policy at the College of Education at Michigan State University. She then returned to Brown to work for the Education Alliance, an organization that partnered with schools and state education agencies that were working to make their instructional practices more equitable to students from all backgrounds. There, she spent ten years researching and evaluating programs that included adolescent literacy, teacher learning, and educational technology.
Jennifer returns to Commonwealth after spending fourteen years as Head of School at School One in Providence, Rhode Island, a small, diverse, and progressive independent high school, with a mission that includes a focus on creativity, a collaborative culture, and an appreciation of difference.
She has been a recipient of a Fulbright Hays Fellowship to live and study in China, as well as a Klingenstein Fellowship for independent school heads at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has recently served as a grant reviewer for the Women's Fund of Rhode Island.
Can you spot Jennifer in her Class of 1981 Commonwealth School yearbook picture? (Hint: she’s in the front row!)