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Mission and Vision

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Our Mission

Emma Willard School’s commitment to educating motivated, intellectually-curious young women is grounded in our history as the first school of higher learning for girls. In 2002, the school officially adopted its current mission, which continues to guide our educational philosophies and community best practices today:

"Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world."

The enduring legacy and spirit of Emma Hart Willard is embodied in this mission and, in turn, is realized through our commitment to the fundamental values she espoused so many generations ago: education, edification and empowerment for all.

Our Vision for The Future

For over 200 years, Emma Willard has adapted and evolved to meet the needs of each generation of students. In 2021, with the leadership of Head of School Jenny Rao, the school completed a comprehensive and collaborative visioning process that resulted in the creation of a five-year strategic plan titled Leading with Purpose: A Strategic Vision for the Future.

The strategic plan is focused on positioning Emma Willard as a leader in five key priorities: learning, teaching, belonging, connection and capacity.

Leading with Purpose is a road map for Emma Willard as it navigates a course through its third century as the preeminent school for girls, building on a proud legacy of leaders who have leveraged their education to serve and shape the world. Together, the school is advancing this vision of purposeful courage and informed action.


Our Mission and Vision in Practice

At the heart of the Emma Willard experience are three promises we make to every member of our campus community and, in turn, ask that they commit wholeheartedly to uphold in their studies, work, and day-to-day life at Emma:

Students walk across campus on a fall day at Emma Willard

#1 — Love of Learning

We commit to a deeply personalized approach to learning rooted in the joy of education and exploration.
We seek to foster a love of learning in each student by identifying their intrinsic interests and motivations, then applying them to a rigorous but focused academic curriculum, a wide range of co- and extra-curricular opportunities, a comprehensive student support system, and an engaging residential life program for our boarders. The goal is to develop a life-long sense of intellectual curiosity.

Student holds up certificate of achievement for math

#2 - Authentic Success

We commit to the belief that there is no single hierarchy or standard for success at our school.
Instead, we believe there are more than 360 unique definitions of success — one for every student. We don't rank students academically but rather celebrate their individual and collective achievements in all ways, valuing a willingness to try above all else. It is our responsibility to help students find their authentic voice and then arm them with the confidence, experience and resilience to use it.

International flags adorn the hallway into Kellas Dining Hall

#3 - Global Community

We commit to being an inclusive community with a diverse and international student body.
We live together in a stimulating environment that is also deeply rooted in mutual respect and consideration. We recognize that becoming a leader means shaping and serving the world around you—practicing empathy and introspection along the way. Above all, a growth mindset permeates our culture, which means taking risks and making mistakes is viewed as a healthy part of the journey.