Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and four more stops before returning to Williston. It has been a fast paced trip to Asia—too fast to see all of the alumni who constitute Williston’s extended global family. But as with our last trip, I (and all the Williston folks traveling with me) have been overwhelmed by the hospitality of our hosts and the eagerness for news. I’ve been talking to many people about the good initiatives underway at Williston, as well as those still to come.
Moving from country to country, I can’t help but juxtapose various meetings. Here’s an example of what I mean: At one point, we met the distinguished citizen of Seoul (and Williston’s first Korean alumnus), Mr. Yun, son of a former South Korean president. He graciously showed us his traditional home. In Hong Kong, we met Ronald Chan, from the Class of 2001. Mr. Chan represents the younger generation of civic-minded Willistonians in his role as political assistant to the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs. Two men, two different eras, both committed to civic engagement and the public good.
Robert Ward liked to quote the poet Robert Frost in saying that Williston instills in its students “doing good well. ” On this trip, we have witnessed that such values have a truly global reach.
I was reflecting upon the rounds that I enjoy making at Williston and two moments coalesced and inspired this post. The first was an English department meeting which only a former English teacher could love. During the period, our department had a deep discussion on the use of the semi-colon. (Actually, much more was happening, too, as those in the group challenged one another’s ideas about teaching writing and how students analyze different texts.) “What a great moment,” I thought. It showed that our adopted schedule has given Williston’s professionals time to do what they do best.
Being peripatetic, I encountered another such moment—but this one the result of considerable labor, time, and planning. The Modern Language department’s curricular review team (the final visit of outside experts in a year-long process) created a report about how we teach languages at Williston. Everything from the use of technology to “backward design” has been discussed, challenged, and tested.
I’m not sure how many of our students know the extent to which our teachers are committed to life-long learning, but Williston’s teachers model the message—the same message they deliver every day in classrooms across campus. Their continuous professional development demonstrates that good teaching is no accident.