Category Archives: Visiting Speakers

Alumna Shares Story of Hope after Brain Injury

Lindsey Bannish ’11

Lindsey Bannish ’11 returned to campus January 3 to describe to students an “invisible disability” she carries with her always: a traumatic brain injury caused by repeated concussions. Bannish, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and a Rehabilitation Counselor Master’s student at Springfield College, advocates for awareness about head injuries.

She shared her story with students, outlining the challenges she faced after an injury on the ski slopes that caused one of 10 diagnosed concussions, and how persistent migraines, memory impairment, mood swings, sleep disruption, and impulsiveness temporarily derailed her progress through high school. Previously, she had been a high achiever, always cheerfully taking on new responsibilities.

“I became miserable,” she said. “I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

Because of support from her Williston peers and teachers, she made it through after taking a month off of school. But the injury remained, and remains a problem as she moves through her adult life today. Instead of becoming a surgeon, which had been her dream, she will study neuroscience and teach others about the brain.

She encouraged students to take the time to recover and to get help if they are injured. “The last thing a high achiever wants to do is admit vulnerability,” she said. However that’s what’s needed to prevent serious consequences.

“I wish I didn’t have an invisible disability that I could have prevented,” she said.

Speaker Encourages Faculty to Consider Students’ Stories

Dena Simmons

Dena Simmons had some hard-earned advice for teachers: consider the backstory of each student in your class. From her childhood in the Bronx, NY, to boarding school in Connecticut, to a successful career in higher education, Simmons, who leads the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, brought her personal narrative to a recent faculty meeting. She shared difficult boarding school memories: a teacher publicly correcting her diction; walking into a dorm room and seeing the resident guarding valuables in Simmons’ presence; and being asked, “Where are you from? No, where are you from from?” She said she didn’t fit in at school but eventually absorbed the cultural rules.

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Convocation Speaker Beverly Tatum Examines Race and Education

Tatum 1200px
Submitted photo

Williston Northampton School is proud to welcome Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum—a researcher and author on race relations and a leader in higher education—to campus this fall for the school’s 177th Convocation. Tatum, a former Williston trustee and a parent of members of the classes of 2000 and 2004, will address the school community during an event on the Quadrangle on the evening of September 15. Class dinners follow the event.

A 2013 recipient of the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award, Tatum served as president of Spelman College from 2002 to 2015. Her tenure as president was marked by a period of great innovation and growth. Overall, scholarship support for Spelman students tripled during her tenure, and opportunities for faculty research and development expanded significantly. In 2008, the school established the Gordon-Zeto Fund for International Initiatives with a gift of $17 million, creating more opportunities for faculty and student travel and increased funding for international students. Continue reading

Commencement Speaker McCardell Leads the University of the South

Bonnie and John McCardell

John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, and the vice-chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, will be the speaker at the 176th Commencement of the Williston Northampton School.

In 2015, McCardell was appointed chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU board members set the association agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration. Continue reading

Student Life Speaker Sheds Light on Teenage Brain

Dr. Abigail Judge addresses students at a recent Student Life assembly.

Teens need to know the difference between “hot” and “cold” cognition, and how making decisions in each of these emotional states can bring vastly different outcomes. Student Life Speaker Abigail Judge, a Cambridge therapist who also teaches at Harvard Medical School and conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital, connected with her teenage audience using humor and self-deprecation during a recent assembly. Her message: know your brain.

“Hot” cognition occurs when emotions are high, when someone is upset, angry, or sad. Teens in this state should notice their feelings (a tight stomach, sweaty hands, a feeling of anguish, for example) and put their phone down. This is not the time to send a text or reply to a provoking phone call. In the cold light of day, Judge said, we all make better judgment calls on how to interact with people. Continue reading