For the past 13 years, the Williston Northampton School has set aside a special day to celebrate diversity in all its forms through special keynotes and community workshops. This year, the title of the event changed from “Diversity Conference” to “Diversity Symposium,” a nod to how much the event has grown. The symposium, entitled “Finding Your Purpose, Passion & Integrity,” will feature three keynotes and over 40 workshops, including eight with special guests.
“We are excited to have all members of our school community hear presentations directly relating to those three words central to Williston Northampton’s mission statement and strategic initiatives,” wrote Director of International Student Programs Meg Valine, who organized the event with Assistant Director of Admissions and Director of Diversity Michael Shelton.
“[We] encourage everyone to pause, think, listen and reflect on how these three words from the school’s mission statement impact our lives,” she wrote.
The Diversity Symposium will begin on Thursday, February 19, with a keynote address at 7:30 pm in the Chapel. Speaker Thomas Smith, who will be addressing the theme of “Purpose,” is a former ice hockey player and has twice been paralyzed. Through his determination and hard work, he has regained much of his mobility and has since started a foundation to advocate for paralysis victims. He is also one of the individuals responsible for the “look-up lines” appearing in ice rinks across the country. Following his presentation will be a reception.
Friday starts with a series of student speakers addressing “Passion” at 8:30 a.m. in the Chapel. Students and faculty will then attend a morning workshop, meet as an advisory for discussion, have lunch, and then head into an afternoon workshop. The event concludes with our third keynote address on “integrity,” presented by Kerrita Mayfield, Ph.D., a long-time educator.
“The symposium offers a great opportunity for us to stretch ourselves, to learn new things, and to support members of our community,” noted Dean of Faculty Peter Valine.
Read on about the Diversity Symposium’s featured guests:
Brittany Collins ’14
Recent graduate Brittany Collins returns to campus for this yearly event. Ms. Collins is a first-year student at nearby Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ms. Collins will be presenting the Diversity Symposium workshop “Finding Meaning in a Self-Centered World” with Maranie Harris-Kuiper ’15, which will encourage participants to grapple with their purpose and cultivate integrity through guided free writing exercises.
A veteran independent school educator and Western Mass native, David Kells is a licensed social worker in Western Massachusetts. Mr. Kells is a former member of Williston Northampton’s history department and has taught and coached at several New England boarding schools. At St. Michael’s College in Vermont, he served as counselor-in-residence for more than six years. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Michael’s College, a master’s degree from the University of Vermont, and a master’s degree from Smith College.
Mr. Kells will be presenting the Diversity Symposium’s “White Privilege” workshop, which will use discussion and film to explore the concept of white privilege through students’ own experiences and understandings.
Former faculty member James Greenwood is returning to Williston Northampton for the Diversity Symposium. Mr. Greenwood is the associate dean of multicultural education at Northfield Mount Hermon School. While on Williston’s faculty, he was an assistant director of admission and taught in the History and Global Studies Department. Mr. Greenwood earned a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and advanced degrees from Brown University and Teachers College of Columbia University.
Mr. Greenwood will be presenting the Diversity Symposium’s “You Mean There’s Race in My Movie?” workshop, an an interactive session designed to examine media representations of people of color.
Kerrita K. Mayfield, Ph.D.
Kerrita Mayfield is a long-time educator at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Her teaching career spans academic institutions including Vassar and the University of Wyoming, in addition to secondary teaching both in the Pacific Northwest and in the Boston area. She teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and said that she simply loves school.
With expertise in curriculum design and development, feminist theory and gender studies, secondary education, and teacher education, Dr. Mayfield’s presentations will inform and inspire.
Dr. Mayfield earned two bachelor’s degrees from Williams College, a master’s degree from UMass Amherst, and a doctorate and graduate minor in women’s studies from the University of Wyoming.
Dr. Mayfield will be presenting the Diversity Symposium’s “Integrity” keynote address on Friday, February 20 at 1:45 p.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel. She will also be presenting the workshop “Head, Heart, Guts” with Amber Zinni, which will examine the source of words in an exploration of how to listen and talk across differences.
As founder and owner of Paper City Fitness, Kate O’Donnell is passionate about fitness. Her idea for Paper City Fitness stemmed from her belief that many people don’t feel comfortable in a traditional gym setting. With a goal of bringing health and wellness out of the gym and into the community, she is focused on breaking down traditional barriers to exercise and is committed to providing group fitness classes that are open and accessible to everyone. Ms. O’Donnell earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College.
Ms. O’Donnell will be presenting the Diversity Symposium workshop “Accessible to ALL: Zumba’s History and Movement,” which will feature international music in a welcoming and universal approach to fitness.
Stan Samuelson (or just “Stan,” as he is affectionately known) recently retired from Williston Northampton’s faculty following 33 years as a mathematics teacher. During his tenure, Mr. Samuelson logged 20 years of shepherding community service efforts, was an ardent supporter of the Gay Straight Alliance and PRIDE and coached squash. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytecnic Institute (RPI) and currently resides on Cape Cod.
Mr. Samuelson will presenting the Diversity Symposium workshop “Ally 101,” a session on exploring what works, what does, and how be an ally at Williston.
Thomas E. Smith
An avid ice hockey player for much of his life, Mr. Smith sustained two major injuries on the ice, each of which resulted in paralysis. Through sheer determination he fought against odds and regained use of his body. His story is one of intense motivation and inspiration.
Mr. Smith and several close friends founded the Thomas E. Smith Foundation (JustCureParalysi s.org) to serve spinal-cord research, awareness, and well-being. He advocates for patients with spinal-cord injuries and trauma, and raises awareness of their needs with corporations. He says,”I am as comfortable with this mission as I was the first time I skated on the pond.”
Another significant outcropping of Mr. Smith’s efforts is the “look-up line” on ice rinks. The “look-up line” serves a similar purpose to the warning track in baseball’s outfield. (Prior to the opening of Williston Northampton’s Lossone Rink this fall, a new “look-up line” was created on the ice.)
Mr. Smith will be presenting the Diversity Symposium’s “Purpose” keynote address on Thursday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel.
Formerly one of Dr. Kerrita Mayfield’s graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amber Zinni is a veteran member of Mayfield’s presentation team. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in social justice education from the UMass Amherst and now works for True Colors, Inc. of Connecticut.
Ms. Zinni will be presenting the Diversity Symposium workshop “Head, Heart, Guts” with Dr. Kerrita Mayfield on Friday.
As bursar at UMass Amherst, Erin Zuzula’s primary role is ensuring the collection of all revenue generated by student tuition and fees, as well as other revenue generated by the university. She is both knowledgeable and interested in student financial literacy. Ms. Zuzula earned a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and a M.B.A.from UMass Amherst.
Ms. Zuzula will be presenting the Diversity Symposium workshop “What is YOUR Financial Literacy IQ?”, which will explore such financial concerns as identity theft, credit reports, credit cards, student loans, and payment plans.