All posts by Kate Snyder

Williston Partners with Mount Holyoke College on New Master’s Degree Program

Beginning this summer, educators wishing to develop an expertise in independent schools can do so through a master’s degree program specifically designed with the unique environment of the private school in mind. Williston Northampton School worked with Mount Holyoke College in developing a Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership, with a Concentration in Independent Schools.

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh
College Counselor Emily McDowell, right, discusses options with a student.

The new two-year program builds on the Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership program that Mount Holyoke launched in May 2015, and similarly allows teachers to pursue their degree while still working as full-time educators. (In a nod to the athletic schedules of private schools, for example, no classes are scheduled for Wednesday afternoons.) The courses, which draw on the expertise of Mount Holyoke’s teacher-leaders-in-residence, as well as professionals from the Williston campus, will be available both in person and online, using video conferencing, with several classes offered during the summer, and a lighter load during the school year.

The first group of candidates includes three Williston faculty members—Emily McDowell, Sue Michalski, and Andrew Syfu—who were selected through an application process this spring, as well as two educators from The Ethel Walker School, in Simsbury, Conn. Williston is covering the cost of tuition for its faculty.

“Mount Holyoke has a great reputation and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with them,” said Williston Director of Curriculum Kim Evelti, who has been spearheading the initiative and is teaching the course “Independent School Topics.” Evelti, assisted by other Williston administrators and staff, will examine issues and challenges specific to private schools, such as the admissions process, alumni relations, advancement, and the social dynamics of students’ living away from home.

The degree program also requires a capstone project, in which candidates pursue independent research under the guidance of a teacher-leader coach. Evelti said that Williston teachers may involve the school in these projects, which can focus on topics both inside and outside the classroom.

“Teacher excellence has always been a priority at Williston,” said Head of School Robert W. Hill III. “This innovative program gives our faculty the opportunity to further their professional development in a format tailored to their needs and schedules.”

“This is a program I wish I had,” said Mount Holyoke’s Megan Allen, the 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year who now directs the college’s Programs in Teacher Leadership. “Many of us who are working in education leadership have learned on the job, in the moment,” she added. “Mount Holyoke’s teacher leadership program wants to change the narrative.”

Williston Recognizes Alumni Excellence

The Class of 2016 has officially turned the corner from students to alumni, which is a good reason to share news of many other alumni who returned to campus during Reunion Weekend May 13 to 15 to be honored for their achievements, both on and off the athletic fields.

Ed Michael Reggie '71
Ward Medal recipient Ed Michael Reggie ’71

During a ceremony where he told students not to give back, but to pay it forward, Ed Michael Reggie ’71 received the Ward Medal, Williston’s highest honor. It recognizes individuals who exemplify the values of humanitarian service and volunteerism, and who have made outstanding contributions to their communities. Reggie received his award during a special all-school assembly on May 13 in the Phillips Stevens Chapel. A banker-turned-venture-capitalist, Reggie leads FutureFactory, an entity dedicated to inventing and growing smart businesses. Read a profile about Reggie here; read the text of Reggie’s acceptance speech here; and see photos of the event here.

An Alumni Awards ceremony was held in the chapel on May 14 where students presented awards recognizing fundraising acumen, professional achievement, and devotion to the school (see photos here). Timothy Murphy ’96, director of placement at The Fessenden School, received the Daniel and Jane Carpenter Award. Michael “Mickey” Meyer ’03, cofounder of online and television comedy forum JASH, took home the Alumni Trailblazer Award. Trustee John Booth ’83 received the Founders’ Award. Booth is the upper school academic dean at The Brunswick School. Jay and Betsy Grant, longtime beloved faculty at Williston, received the Distinguished Service Award on the eve of their retirement.

Hall of Famer Stephen Durant '64
Hall of Famer Stephen Durant ’64

An emotional Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place during Reunion on May 13, when current students presented awards to exceptional alumni athletes (see photos here). Marilyn Lash Cluett ’65 accepted the Hall of Fame award for her late father Dale Lash, who was athletic director at Williston from 1942 to 1967. The late Westcott Moulton ’27, known as “Mr. Hockey,” became the best collegiate ice hockey player in New England. The late Laura Hurd ’01 also excelled at ice hockey and set many school and NCAA records. Her mother, Jennifer Hurd, accepted the award on Laura’s behalf. Stephen Durant ’64, who played football and lacrosse, was “one of the greatest athletes to ever compete for Williston.” He was on hand at the ceremony to be welcomed into the Hall of Fame. Also on hand were members of the 1991 Girls Cross Country team whose coach, Greg Tuleja, enthused about their speed and heart. Runners were delighted to hear current cross country teammates chant their fight theme under the big tent at dinner that night. And in a beautiful moment of connection, Catherine Saint Louis ’92, a member of the 1991 team, at a meet the following day, witnessed Rachel Rockwell ’16 breaking a hurdle record Saint Louis had set in 1990. “She told me to, ‘Go get it, I know you can!’” Rockwell recalled after introducing herself to Saint Louis at Friday’s Hall of Fame ceremony. “It was such a cool moment.”

Bulletin Nets Silver Award

bulletin-imageThis spring, the Williston Northampton School Bulletin won a 2016 Council for Advancement and Support for Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence silver medal in the Independent School Magazine category. Circle of Excellence is the national category, so the magazine was judged alongside publications from colleges and independent secondary schools across the country. Williston submitted two magazine issues, “Reunion” and “Williston Academy.”

The judges’ citation praised the issues for being well thought out and well written, with informative and engaging content. They also commended the paper stock and photography, and noted, “the creative and envelope-pushing article headlines are in a class by themselves.” This brings the number of CASE awards, including regional CASE District I awards, earned by Williston’s Communications Office to 12 in the last three years.



Williston Inducts 12 into Cum Laude Society

Photo by Joanna Chattman
Photo by Joanna Chattman

The Williston Northampton School chapter of the Cum Laude Society inducted 12 members from the Class of 2016 during its Commencement ceremony on May 29, 2016.

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, honors scholastic achievement in secondary schools.  The society has more than 350 chapters, with the majority in independent schools.  In 1921, Williston Academy became a member of the society, followed by Northampton School for Girls in 1951.  In 1971, a new charter was created for The Williston Northampton School.

The following students were inducted during the ceremony under a tent on the Quad:

Yuwei Cao
Alexander Fay
Beatrice Fogleman
Justin Frometa
Zongzhe Li  (Kevin)
Ysabella Luikart
Jasmin Movassaghi
Dimitra Sierros
Tara Sullivan
Isabelle Tegtmeyer
Ta-Lian Tin (Vivian)
Sofia Triana


Commencement Launches 132 Graduates

Photo by Joanna Chattman

Why would you want to leave Williston? That was the question Head of School Robert Hill III put to graduating seniors during Williston Northampton School’s 175th  Commencement ceremony, which took place under a tent on the Quad on May 29. (See the links below for comprehensive coverage.)

Mr. Hill went on to describe the transition graduates were about to engage in as they move past their late adolescent years and enter the adult world. He added that their education at Williston Northampton School had fully prepared them for this next step.

Commencement speaker Nonie Creme ’90, in an authentic and inspiring speech that drew an enthusiastic response from the audience, further illustrated how a Williston education served her throughout her career and life. Creme, an entrepreneur who has started two successful beauty product companies, described herself as a “really messed up teenager,” and began her story in a Santa Fe jail where she ended up after running away from her Texas home. As she tells it, the choice between boarding school and jail was a “no brainer.”

Head of School Robert W. Hill III addresses the assembly. Photo by Joanna Chattman
Head of School Robert W. Hill III addresses the assembly./Photo by Joanna Chattman

Here at Williston, she reinvented herself from a “Southern yokel in mom jeans” (or so she felt) who didn’t know how to use the washing machines in the basement of her dorm, to a cigarette-smoking Goth girl who would steal away to New York City and frequent punk clubs on breaks from school. It was at Williston where she met her “tribe.” “I retain more friendships from Williston than from any other period in my life and I’ve lived, people,” she said. “That’s proof of how critical this place is, and how critical these relationships are to you at this stage of your life.”

After Williston, she studied art at Scripps College and then followed a boy to London, where, by day, she camped out in the Underground with her nail polish supplies and sold desk-side manicures to executives. Soon fashion-lovers sought out her polish mixes. From there, she became the founding creative director of Butter London, a high-end cosmetics company. After experiencing success there, she left to found Nonie Creme Colour Prevails, selling creatively packaged makeup for the mass market at drug stores around the country.

But she never abandoned her punk aesthetic. “It’s not lost on me that there are many people out there who might say a woman who won’t dye her hair and wears a skinhead and a septum ring doesn’t belong in the beauty industry, and certainly couldn’t be the meaningful Founder of a multi-million dollar business,” she said.

Commencement speaker Nonie Creme '90/Photo by Joanna Chattman
Commencement speaker Nonie Creme ’90/Photo by Joanna Chattman

“Well, because of the love and support I received right here at Williston,” she told the audience, “I have the confidence to say ‘Screw you, I can do anything I want.’ And so can you, and so WILL you.”

Creme’s address was followed by the announcement of prizes, which were bestowed at a ceremony the previous day and the induction of 12 students into the Cum Laude Society.

Following the presentation of diplomas to the 132 graduates present (one graduating senior was not able to be at the event) by Board Chairman John Hazen White Jr., Senior Class Speaker Christopher Hudson gave his address.

Hudson asked his classmates to focus on three concepts: discipline, forgiveness, and attitude, and told them to stay positive and be grateful for the education they received at Williston.

Congratulations to the phenomenal Class of 2016!

Please see the following links for more on 2016 Commencement: