Category Archives: Academics

Williston Cum Laude Society to Induct 13 New Members

Farnham-BlogTim Farnham ’84, Mount Holyoke College Associate Professor and Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Cum Laude induction ceremony on Friday, January 17.

Mr. Farnham, who has taught at Mount Holyoke College since 2009, is a nationally-recognized environmental studies scholar. He received his B.A. from Williams College and an M.S. in Natural Resources with a concentration in Forest Policy and Management from the University of Michigan. Mr. Farnham received his Ph.D. from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

He has published articles in scientific journals on topics including biological diversity and timber management and presented at the 2005 and 2007 International Symposiums on Technology and Society and at both the Yale University Art Gallery and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Doctoral Research Conference.

Mr. Farnham was inducted into the Williston Cum Laude society in his senior year and was the valedictorian of the Class of 1984.

Queen GodIs ’97, who was originally scheduled to speak at the 2014 ceremony, said recently that she was no longer able to attend.

The following students were inducted into Williston Northampton’s Cum Laude Society:
Elizabeth Calderone of Whately, MA
Matthew Carney of Wilton, CT
Matthew Cavanaugh of South Hadley, MA
Zhi Jie (Percy) Chen of Shanghai, China
Nan Ding of Shanghai, China
Olivia Foster of Longmeadow, MA
Brendan Hellweg of Holyoke, MA
Tory Kolbjornsen of Haydenville, MA
Shiyuan (Matt) Mei of Beijing, China
Giovanna Parker of Amherst, MA
Abigail Rogers-Berner of New York, NY
Madeleine Stern of Northampton, MA
Persis Ticknor-Swanson of Easthampton, MA

Inducted students and their parents will be invited to attend a reception immediately following the 8:30 a.m. assembly at the home of Head of School Bob and Kathryn Hill.

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, honors scholastic achievement in secondary scholars. The society has over 350 chapters, the majority of which are 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.

Four Faculty Honored for Their Passion and Leadership

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Describing the recipients as leaders, thinkers, and positive forces in their community, Dean of Faculty Peter Valine named four new instructorships during Upper School Assembly on October 9. The members of the teaching faculty—Susanna White, Tom Johnson, Lynn Magovern, and Betsy Grant—were all honored for their efforts both in and out of the classroom.

The following are from Mr. Valine’s remarks during assembly:

George E. Gregory and Catherine B. Gregory Instructorship

Susanna White received the George E. Gregory and Catherine B. Gregory Instructorship, which recognizes the initiatives of a young faculty member of the fine arts.

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16th Annual Writers’ Workshop

From October 3 to November 11, the Williston Northampton School will host the 16th Annual Writers’ Workshop Series. This year the series features award-winning authors Rebecca Makkai, Patricia McCormick, Elinor Lipman, and Mary Jo Salter. Lectures are free and open to the public and begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center.

Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower, will visit campus on Thursday, October 3 to speak about her short stories and upcoming novel, The Hundred-Year House. Williston will welcome National Book Award finalist, Patricia McCormick author of Sold and Purple Heart on Monday, October 7. Elinor Lipman, parent of a Williston alumnus and author of such novels as The View from Penthouse B and Then She Found Me, will return to campus on Tuesday, November 5. Poet and former Mount Holyoke College professor Mary Jo Salter will conclude the series with her talk on Monday, November 11.

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The Boundless Energy of Mr. Seamon

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Within the first week of school, Joshua Seamon, the new head of the math department at the Williston Northampton School, had posted five links on his new blog to help students learn about the Microsoft Surface Pros and an article on technology in his classroom.

Mr. Seamon carries his new tablet device everywhere he goes and tweets updates with photos of students using them. Although he has been on campus for less than a month, it’s safe to say Mr. Seamon is excited about the direction the school is headed.

Math & Technology
“I’m coming in at a fortuitous time. The potential for transformation is high,” said Mr. Seamon, who is particularly enthusiastic about two programs dear to his heart: campus-wide integration of the Microsoft Surface Pros and Williston’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

Mr. Seamon’s goal with new technology is to use it in a way that will have a positive impact on the classroom experience. At St. Johnsbury Academy, where Mr. Seamon worked for 10 years, technology was at the center of his teaching ethos. For the past six years, he has worked with a similar convertible tablet to the Surface Pro. He said it eliminated mandatory note-taking requirements and allowed him to record lessons for students who were unable to attend class. It also created a platform to share new materials and streamlined presentations.

In addition, his use of the tablet provided him the opportunity to reflect on and hone his teaching style. “I started listening to myself on a daily basis, which is incredibly brutal and a very valuable thing to do,” he said. “It made my lessons more effective, and freed up an enormous amount of time.” Continue reading

Williston’s New Faculty Form Tight Bond

When the 13 new faculty members arrived on campus this year, Dean of Faculty Peter Valine was pleased to see how quickly the group came together. Not only were they highly educated (six have master’s degrees), and dedicated (nine will live on campus to work with the residential program), but they got along. In fact, they established a rapport right from the start, he said.

“Through their orientation process they created an exceptionally tight bond,” Mr. Valine said.  “They supported each other through the orientation program, and really seemed to enjoy each other’s company.”

In a group “distinguished by a true passion for education,” Mr. Valine said he expected the math department to particularly benefit. Three of the new faculty members will be math teachers, including Josh Seamon, the new math department head.

Meet the new faculty for 2013-14:

Carey Baldwin (Math) – Ms. Baldwin joins Williston—and returns to the Pioneer Valley—after teaching and tutoring for the last 10 years in California, and most recently Washington state. She graduated from Mt. Holyoke College with a BA in Physics and Environmental Science. Ms. Baldwin will teach math, and will also be a coach and advisor. Ms. Baldwin and her husband, Brent Visser, will live on campus with their sons Quinn and Sam.

Kate Biddiscombe (English) – Ms. Biddiscombe joins Williston after completing a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also has a master’s in English Literature from the Breadloaf School of English, and she is a graduate of Colby College with a BA in English and American Studies. Ms. Biddiscombe worked for five years at Choate Rosemary Hall. She will teach English, coach, advise, and live on campus.

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