Thayer Academy’s Commitment to Diversity

Jennifer Welch, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity
Jennifer Welch
Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

The Mission of Thayer Academy is to inspire a diverse community of students to moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and physical excellence so that each may rise to honorable achievement and contribute to the common good.

Thayer’s mission statement clearly accents that a school community unified by its commonly held values and enriched by its diversity, enhances its students’ abilities to make positive contributions to an increasingly complex and global society.

Since it first opened its doors in 1877, Thayer Academy has fostered a co-educational environment that affords equal access to students from a broad range of socio-economic circumstances, so they may pursue and develop their talents, interests, and passions. A leader in its commitment, Thayer’s investment in socio-economic diversity has increased through the years, and today, more than 35% of our student body receives financial assistance. This level of support compares favorably with peer schools. Thayer Academy has been successful in increasing the number of historically underrepresented groups within its student body, and we remain committed to maintaining and further enriching a diverse school community.

Thayer’s academic programs are designed to engage students in understanding and appreciating both the commonalities and differences among students with diverse cultural backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, national origins, and religions.

Diversity in the Thayer Academy Community

Our community offers a wide variety of activities that promote diversity awareness.

Organizations Formed by Thayer Students


(Organization for Minority Enrichment, Growth & Awareness) An Upper School group committed to enriching diversity at the school and educating the community about diversity issues


Thayer’s gay/straight alliance at the Upper School, the group works to improve awareness and acceptance of differences in students’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

Middle School OMEGA

This group organizes events to promote awareness and understanding of cultural differences and commonalities. Annual events include the Diversity Day Assembly in Hale Theater, the Multi-Cultural Dinner, and the Martin Luther King Day of Service & Breakfast, which features a service project for all Middle School students and speakers who share their own cultural experiences during breakfast with the students.


sTAnd is an Upper School community-building effort that encourages faculty, students, and staff to write and speak publicly about issues they stand up for.

Diversity-Themed Activities for Students & Families
  • Diversity Celebrations at both the Middle and Upper Schools
  • The Middle School Multi-Cultural Family Dinner and the Upper School’s OMEGA Pot Luck Dinner
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service & Breakfast
  • Learning-Through-Travel trips to other countries/cultures
  • NAIS Students of Color & Diversity Conferences, including the Student Diversity Leadership Conference



Project RISE

Thayer history teacher, alum, and parent Rob Dixon ‘79, P ‘03 ‘16 started Project RISE (Respect, Integrity and Success through Education) in 1993 to provide the same opportunities he had been given when he arrived at Thayer as student from Dorchester.

How the Thayer Academy Curriculum Supports Diversity Awareness

Thayer’s curriculum reflects the school’s goals for educating students about the range of cultures that contribute to the diversity of the world.

  • In English classes, students study world literature through works chosen not only for their literary value but also for the insights they offer into a culture, reflecting physical, social, political, and religious perspectives.
  • Upper School electives are offered in the history of Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, modern Europe, and Ireland.
  • World language classes are offered in Latin, Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese.
  • Thayer’s Learning through Travel programs are designed to give students opportunities to experience other cultures and languages. Students can choose to travel with Thayer-sponsored programs to China, the Dominican Republic, England, France, the Galapagos Islands, Greece, Rome, India, Italy, Peru, and Spain. There are also many opportunities sponsored by Students Shoulder to Shoulder (SStS), Thayer’s partner organization offering service-oriented opportunities in different locations each year. In the past, SStS has placed students in Tibet, Cambodia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Kenya along with a few sites in the United States, such as New Orleans, Detroit, and the Lakota Native American Reservation.
  • The Hale Learning Center supports students with learning differences.

How Thayer Supports Faculty in Promoting Diversity

Thayer Academy’s Teaching Fellows Program

Thayer hires aspiring educators from traditionally under-represented ethnic and racial backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to work and learn at the Academy as Teaching Fellows.

Designed as a two-year program, Teaching Fellows work under the mentorship of a senior faculty member and, over time, assume increasing classroom responsibility. As part of their two-year commitment, Fellows develop a professional development plan that includes enrolling in a fully funded Master’s program during their Fellow’s employment at Thayer.

Teaching Fellow Application & Info

To learn more about this program, please contact our Director of Studies Lynette Sumpter at 781-664-2288 or

The costs associated with the Teaching Fellows program will be separately funded by contributions from donors who value the diversity long-associated with Thayer’s community. If you would like to add your financial support to this effort, you can make your gift online. If you have questions about the program or would like to discuss your gift in more detail, please contact Director of Development Melissa Forger at

Diversity Committee

The Diversity Committee monitors the Academy’s progress in implementing the Diversity Plan and to make specific recommendations for future action steps. Initially, the committee was composed of selected faculty and staff, and with the understanding that from time to time, it might be expanded to include other constituencies. The committee meets at least three times a year. At least one meeting includes the Head of School, Division Heads, Director of Studies, Director of Admissions, and any other administrators who may be asked to consider the Diversity Committee’s recommendations. The final meeting each year focuses on assessment of the Academy’s progress in diversity matters and the development of preliminary action steps for the following year.

Professional Development Opportunities in Diversity Training

Faculty members participate in on-campus discussion groups and attend regional and national conferences including those organized by the NAIS People of Color Conference, SEED (an organization Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity), AISNE (Association of Independent Schools in New England), and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network).

Programming & Outreach Efforts

  • The Teaching Fellows Program represents one step in Thayer's plan to advance diversity in faculty and staff.
  • Thayer has strong relationships with educational access programs such as:
  • The Academy's Board of Trustees includes 22 members; 7 are women and 4 are persons of color.

The Thayer Academy Diversity Plan

The Diversity Plan identifies recommendations designed to sustain and, where appropriate, to further the Academy's commitment to inspiring "a diverse community of students to Moral, Intellectual, Aesthetic, and Physical Excellence." Embedded in this endeavor is a very specific emphasis on community standards and actions that affirm the worth of each student as an individual and as a member of different groups.

In more recent years, the Academy has mirrored national trends by broadening its definition of a diverse community to include racial and cultural characteristics, learning differences, religious beliefs or backgrounds, sexual orientation, and family structure.

Thayer Academy’s Diversity Plan specifies goals to further the Academy’s commitment to diversity in the following areas:

  • Admission Policies & Practices:
    • To promote the Thayer experience to prospective students and families who come from diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural, and racial backgrounds and who value a diverse community
    • To deepen the pool of admissible applicants by placing an emphasis on the whole student–the full range of experiences and backgrounds that each candidate brings to the community
  • Curriculum Evaluation: To pursue frequent evaluation of our curriculum, especially with respect to how students learn–both as individuals and as members of diverse groups
  • School Culture: To create an environment where everyone is comfortable and feels integral to the community
  • Family Outreach & Support: To reach out to and support under-represented families in the Thayer community
  • Faculty Recruitment: To increase the diversity of faculty members at Thayer Academy
  • Faculty Professional Development: To identify a range of resources and opportunities to help faculty understand and address the complexities of serving a diverse student population