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Our Mission Statement

School Within a School (SWS) is a democratic program within Brookline High School.  SWS students are responsible members of both communities.


SWS promotes academic and personal growth through an informal, challenging learning environment where students are encouraged to share feelings and insights.  Students build supportive and honest relationships with teachers and peers.  Together, they inform and assess the curriculum in the context of discussion-based courses.  Classes emphasize independent, self-motivated, active learning from students as much as from teachers.  By valuing process as much as product, SWSers find meaning in lifelong learning.


The tightly knit SWS community encourages communication, values respect, embraces diversity and promotes social inclusion.  It practices direct democracy in its weekly mandatory Town Meeting, where each member has a direct vote and voice in the decision-making.  Student committees steer the community, hire and evaluate staff, run Town Meeting, review membership, and work to make SWS vibrant as well as diverse.


SWS encourages the development of open-minded, creative, vocal and receptive thinkers.  Due to its democratic nature, School Within a School is an ever-changing, fluid community, and thus is as strong as its members make it.

This mission statement was originally developed by a student committee and passed by SWS Town Meeting in June 2003 and reconfirmed in 2016.

SWS Core Values 

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The Core Values were established in 2015 by the SWS faculty as a way to establish a clear vision for the program and chart a student's progress and growth throughout their time with us. 

Academic learning, democracy/justice, and empathy/care are the three domains that SWS students and staff strive to inhabit.  While students are in the program we help foster student movement towards the center of all of the domains. Ideally, students combine a love of their learning, with empathy for themselves and others, while participating in our democratic processes.  We see these core values as being fluid and that students move in and out of these domains depending on the pressures that they experience throughout their time in the program.  Ultimately, we want students to experience all of the domains in order to create a thriving learning community and to help students build life-long skills.

Although they now take the form of the infographic above, the core values originally began as a collection of pizza plates arranged around a table during a professional development workshop with the SWS staff. 

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