Winsor’s diverse, vibrant community mirrors the school’s city setting. The school’s size and traditions help girls build deep friendships and enjoy a sense of class spirit and unity. (Margaret Lampert photo)
“Just think about the different cultures, languages and neighborhoods of our city,” reflects Julian Braxton, director of community and multicultural affairs at the Winsor School in Boston, a leading independent school for academically promising girls in grades 5-12. “In many ways, we don’t have to go far for a global experience.”
In its mission of preparing girls to “contribute to the world,” Winsor opens girls’ eyes to the world in countless ways. Students build global competencies at every level of the curriculum, including in cutting-edge non-Western courses. Learning opportunities extend into many aspects of school life, from global speaker assemblies to lunchtime cultural celebrations to international trips and exchanges that take girls as far away as China and India.
Girls also learn from each other. Responsible global citizenship starts at home. With many nationalities represented in the student body, the school is already a global microcosm.
Located in Boston’s dynamic Longwood medical area, Winsor draws its 430 students from more than 50 communities. The school strives to be “a place where everyone feels welcome,” adds Mr. Braxton.
Affinity groups are one powerful way in which the school lives out its ideals of welcome and support for girls from diverse backgrounds. Every spring, at Winsor’s end-of-year celebration of affinity groups, students gather with their families and teachers to reflect on how meaningful the groups are to them.
The evening puts the spotlight on Winsor girls. Presenters include students involved in SISTERS, short for Sharing Individual Stories Through Everyone’s RootS, a support system for girls of African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Cape Verdean and Latina descent, and in AsIAm, a group for students of Asian descent.
“The best part,” explains one Winsor student, “is knowing that everyone is coming into the group with an open attitude and a willingness to understand each other. We bond with one another and share parts of ourselves and honestly become each other’s sisters.”
Through a Big Sister Program, older girls are matched as mentors to younger girls. From the start, “we try to teach girls the importance of actively and positively defining yourself,” Mr. Braxton adds.
Each fall, the school’s Parent Network for Diversity also sponsors a “welcome” event of its own, helping new girls and their families feel at home at Winsor.
Every day at Winsor, the school’s teachers foster girls’ confidence and sense of possibility. At one year-end celebration, Tanya Lindsay (’03) returned to speak. President of her Winsor class, Tanya went on to become president of the Black Students’ Organization at Columbia University. “It is in this community I learned to speak up and speak out,” she said. “It is in this community I learned to be confident in myself.”
Winsor’s lessons — and friendships — stay with girls for their lifetimes. The college choices of Winsor graduates reflect the strength of the school and its students. In the last five years, the colleges attracting the largest number of Winsor alumnae were Harvard, BC, Vanderbilt, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, George Washington University and MIT. While college is in girls’ immediate futures, Winsor truly prepares them for life.
At Winsor, “what matters is what kind of women our students will become and that their futures are open to boundless possibilities,” explains Rachel Friis Stettler, the school’s director.
“We’re excited to share why Winsor is such a special place,” says Pamela Parks McLaurin, director of admission and financial aid and a Winsor graduate herself. When she talks to girls, she weaves a simple invitation into her conversations: “Challenge yourself. Enjoy yourself. Be yourself.”
The admission team looks carefully at every girl who applies, and seeks girls who will thrive here. Intellectual curiosity, academic ability, motivation, a generous spirit and a respect for difference are all part of what Winsor seeks.
SISTERS and AsIAm are two of many examples of community efforts at Winsor, each guided by the school’s Principles of Diversity. Those principles go hand in hand with Principles of Global Responsibility. Importantly, “Winsor acknowledges, supports and values the visible and not-so-visible areas of diversity,” adds Ms. McLaurin.
To learn more, please call the Admission Office at 617 735-9503 or visit www.winsor.edu.