Coeducation at Berkshire

In the fall of 1969, nine female students were pioneers in what then-Headmaster John Godman called the “Berkshire experiment.” This year, Berkshire celebrates the 50th anniversary of coeducation under the Mountain by honoring the contributions and achievements that young women made, and continue to make, in our commitment to academic, artistic, and athletic excellence. While acknowledging the past, we also look to the future to illuminate ways the School will approach and embrace its next 50 years of coeducation.



Berkshire welcomes Gina Barreca, author of "Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Co-education in the Ivy League," to help kick-off the 2019 All-School Read. Barreca will discuss gender, power, politics, and humor. Her visit comes as students and faculty read this year's ASR—"We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie.



The school community will gather in Allen Theater to hear an informal panel consisting of current students, several of the first nine female students, a couple of their contemporary male classmates, and some of the pioneering first female teachers. The panel will be moderated by former faculty member Nancy Duryee-Aas who taught at Berkshire from 1970-2006.



In honor of Anne Allen Buck's many contributions to Berkshire, and looking forward to the future, the School will host a women’s leadership summit, bringing together alumni, faculty, staff, and students, to take part in speakers, discussion sessions, workshops and informal networking opportunities for the students.



Berkshire students enrolled in the inaugural history elective Leadership: Politics and Society which will spend the fall semester examining the revolutionary nature of female leadership across time and cultures. As a culmination of the class, the students will design a signature experience for alumni participating in Reunion Weekend 2020. 




Berkshire alumna Michele Robins '73 will exhibit her work at The Warren Family Gallery, located in the Kennard Fine Arts Center. Please check back for more information about the upcoming reception.



On September 21, 2019, Berkshire School hosted a panel discussion on the 50th anniversary of coeducation. The event was held in Allen Theater and moderated by former faculty Nancy Duryee-Aas. Panel members included (listed alphabetically): Jack Bacon ’72, Gigi Brown ’20 (student), Alex Brunel ’72, Linda Matson Heyes ’73, Carole Maghery King ’72, Mandy Morgan (faculty), Paula Pevzner ’73, Manny Roldan ’20 (student), Marianne Hubert Stein (former faculty), and Ned Sullivan ’72.

Female Firsts

Anne Allen Buck, who founded Berkshire School with her husband, Seaver Buck, laid the groundwork for strong female leadership in many ways, not least of all was her active membership on the School’s Board of Trustees from 1919–1945. Mrs. Buck and these, her fellow pioneers, paved the way for the future successes of so many who would follow in their footsteps.

This coeducation section reflects highlights of Berkshire School’s history culled from our archives and school publications. If you would like to share more information with us about coeducation, please contact us at



The Sky's The Limit

This fall marks 50 years of coeducation at Berkshire, and since then, alumnae have gone on to push the envelope, push for equality, and push themselves to achieve big goals—even as the glass ceiling, chipped as it is, still looms overhead. Below you can read about some of our graduates who are ascending and excelling in their fields.

Carolyn Crimi '78

Berkshire School alum Carolyn Crimi '78

Carolyn Crimi '78's first middle-grade novel, Weird Little Robots, will be published by Candlewick Press on October 1.


E.V. Day '86

Artist E.V. Day '86 has received numerous awards for her work, which has been exhibited in some of the world’s leading art venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Saatchi Gallery in London.


Lauren Hynek '96

Screenwriter Lauren Hynek '96 has joined up with Elizabeth Martin to write a live-action adaptation of Disney's Mulan, the 1998 animated film about a young woman who disguises herself as a male warrior.


Jillian Hooper Joseph '97

Jillian Hooper Joseph '97 is the managing director and associate general counsel at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), where she's made it her mission to help elevate communities through real estate investments.


Natalie Hooper '01

Combining her passion for real estate and sport, Natalie Hooper '01 joined Nike in 2015 and has helped the company grow.


Hannah Cooke '14

Hannah Cooke ’14 founded Bowdoin College’s Athletes of Color Coalition—and she’s just warming up.



The following books have been incorporated in this year's English curriculum to celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Berkshire:

Form III 
Tara Westover's memoir is about growing up in a family that deeply mistrusts education and other societal norms we take for granted. Moreover, Westover's struggle with, and ultimate triumph over, how her community and family define her is a powerful link to the Third Form theme: Who am I under the Mountain?

Form IV
In the spring, sophomores will participate in the SEAVER project. For this, students can choose books that are international and there will be opportunities to read and discuss books that have to do with education around the world. The students will use these books to spearhead an activity where they try to think of ways to help improve this issue in the world. Hopefully, some of these projects will center around education, particularly women’s education. Possible texts are: Sold by Patricia McCormick,  Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and When I was a Soldier by Valerie Zenatti.

Form V
Set in 1930s Florida, Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, tells the story of Janie, a young woman who desperately wants to be independent. As she grows up, Janie navigates what it means to love a man, but still belong to herself. Advanced Fifth Form students will read The Eyes Were Watching God during the second quarter and discuss issues of race, gender, and what it means to grow up independantly. 

The Color Purple documents the traumas and gradual triumph of Celie, an African American teenager raised in rural isolation in Georgia It's an epistolary novel in which Celie writes letters to God in an attempt to find strength and self-knowledge. In spite of a series of traumatic events, Celie does find strength and matures into a powerful woman.

Form VI
In Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, students will explore the experiences of two sisters and their brother who grapple with identity and responsibility within the family and the broader world. Each character must decide what responsibility they have in relation to their gender, religion, country, and each other. (Lissa McGovern)

Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Condition, a postcolonial story about a young girl's experience living under patriarchy and colonialism, was the first novel published by a black woman from Zimbabwe in English. It won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989, and in 2018 the BBC named it one of the top 100 books that have shaped the world.  (John Hyland)

Orlando: A Biography reveals Virginia Woolf at her most imaginative. The Modernist icon traces her gender-fluid protagonist across multiple centuries of English life, posing questions about the very nature of sex & gender and the ways in which societal assumptions inform or restrict an individual's understanding of her / his position within that larger community. (A.J. Kohlhepp)