Honoring Bill Wharton

Humble and steadfast, erudite and eloquent—but not above a corny joke—Bill Wharton has been a constant at Commonwealth since he arrived in 1985, first as a Latin teacher, then transitioning to Director of Admissions in 1993 before becoming Headmaster in 2001. His most extraordinary year at Commonwealth, leading the school through the COVID-19 pandemic, will also be Bill’s last, as he heads into a well-deserved retirement in June of 2021.

Pragmatic in his planning and undeterred by the unknown, Bill has worked tirelessly to run the school in the midst of the pandemic with the highest standards of safety, all while balancing equal care and attention to student wellbeing, school culture, and navigating the logistics of a leadership transition.

This and every year, Bill has guided Commonwealth with wisdom and unwavering calm. Thanks to that careful stewardship, he will leave the school united in strengthening its commitment to equity and inclusion, on solid financial and administrative footing, and brimming with students and faculty as conscientious as they are passionate about their studies. 

Corroborating what had always anecdotally appeared to be true, a recent survey by the Stanford-affiliated Challenge Success program found that Commonwealth was, in their words, "off the charts" among high-performing schools nationally in levels of student engagement and interest. And while Bill may be quick to deflect praise, the survey demonstrates—using the kind of quantitative metrics even he can’t ignore—the effectiveness of his leadership in creating an exceptional learning environment.

We hope to honor Bill’s legacy with our actions long after he leaves the headmaster’s office, and we invite you to reflect on his time at Commonwealth through this section of our website.


Bill by the Numbers


years at Commonwealth School


years as Headmaster


Commonwealth graduates during his tenure


Hancocks (give or take)


Adirondack chairs constructed (and one bench)


Skates into Vacation (and about as many trademark whoosh motions)


funds raised to support the school


annual fund growth under his leadership


New classes created through Hughes grants, a program Bill established