Category Archives: Academics

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 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


Williston’s We the People Team Heads to Boston

Update, February 1: On Saturday, Williston’s We the People team won the Massachusetts State Championship, earning them the right to represent Massachusetts in the We the People National Finals in April at the University of Maryland.


They have prepared all trimester, studying the U.S. Constitution, debating in teams, and preparing for surprise questions from the judges. On January 30, students in AP U.S. government classes will once again head to Boston for the Massachusetts State We the People competition to test their knowledge and their debating prowess.

Led by faculty advisor Peter Gunn, the We the People program at the Williston Northampton School has been a long and successful one. Williston students have studied the curriculum since 1991 and participated in the state competition since 1998. In 2000 and again in 2013, Williston students went all the way to the national finals in Washington, DC, after winning and placing second in at the state-level, respectively.

“This is a central part of our learning in AP U.S. government,” noted Mr. Gunn in an email. “The students are hard at work on this exciting intellectual endeavor.”

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A Cochlear Lesson for AP Psych

The Walters family provides a hands-on component to a unit on sensation and perception
Photo by Dennis Crommett

Four-year-old Jackson walked patiently around the AP psychology class, holding one of the devices that makes him so special and letting the Williston Northampton School students gently touch his head.

On the floor, his two-year-old brother, Chase, played with stuffed toys, while at the front of the room, his mother, Corinne Walters, explained to the class the process both boys had gone through while learning to use their cochlear implants.

“When it first got activated, he was in tears for days,” Ms. Walters said of Jackson. “Shoes walking on the floor were freaking him out. Silverware freaked out Chase.”

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Walters and her sons, both of whom were born deaf and have been gradually adjusting to life with implants, were in class to provide a hands-on component to a unit on sensation and perception.

Photo by Dennis Crommett

Students in the psychology class leaned over their desks to ask questions about the implants as the boys played and doodled on the white board.

The visit was a serendipitous one. Since Williston Northampton science teachers Amber Rodgers and Christina Berghoff share a classroom, when Ms. Rodgers left the words “cochlear implant” on the white board after her lesson, Ms. Berghoff spotted the note and mentioned that she had both previously worked with deaf students and was still helping to assist the Walters family.

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Academically Outstanding Students Honored

Three dozen academically outstanding students were honored at the Williston Northampton Upper School assembly on October 7. Academic Dean Greg Tuleja presented kudos and certificates to the students, who achieved distinction on either advanced placement or National Merit Scholarship qualifying tests.

AP exams, which test students’ ability to take the equivalent of an introductory-level college course, take place in May and are graded on a scale of 1 (no recommendation) to 5 (extremely well qualified). The AP scholars were recognized for their performance on all such tests they’ve taken previously at Williston. Senior Tanmay Khale achieved the highest award, National AP Scholar, for scoring 4 and higher on more than eight exams.

The following students were recognized during the assembly:

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