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.
A fine and performing arts teacher, Ms. White has served in many roles since coming to Williston in 1998. In addition to teaching in many courses in the studio arts, she worked in the Deans Office as an assistant dean of residential life and was an architect of the Community Life program. She has also been a longtime member of the Diversity Committee and she has served as head of the Fine and Performing Arts Department.
In 2012, Ms. White realized what she calls her “dream job” when she became a painting teacher after the departure of Marcia Reed. In the classroom, she has created an environment that encourages creativity and risk-taking. Ms. White builds trust among her students by giving them the space to grow as individuals and artists. Her goal is for each student to gain more confidence and artistic self-esteem.
Ms. White is a strong advocate for the arts whose passion and enthusiasm for her work is continually on display. She is a positive force in the Williston community who consistently stands up and cheers on both students and colleagues.
Emily N. McFadon Vincent ’49 and Bob E. Vincent Instructorship
The instructorship was established in 2007 by Emily N. McFadon Vincent, Class of 1949, and her husband Bob, to recognize a young faculty member’s initiatives in and out of the classroom.
Over the last seven years, Mr. Johnson, a history and global studies teacher, has inspired Williston students with his thought-provoking classes and his dedicated work as a dorm parent, advisor, and coach. In the classroom he is an engaging teacher who encourages his students to grapple with ethical dilemmas and explore religious traditions.
His passion for learning is evident to both students and peers, and his students thrive under his well-organized and purposeful approach to his classes. Mr. Johnson uses clear objectives to guide the curriculum through essential questions to enduring understanding. He encourages his students to read closely, to analyze intentionally, and to develop original ideas. Mr. Johnson also asks his students to consider their responsibility as learners by grading them on citizenship, or their engagement in the learning process.
Whether it is in the classroom or in other arenas of school life, Mr. Johnson holds students to high standards in a way that earns their trust and respect. One of his goals is to teach academic integrity through an emphasis on citing sources and a clear review of plagiarism. Mr. Johnson is respected among his peers for his thoughtfulness and his leadership in bringing attention to the study of religion, ethics, and global issues.
Northampton School for Girls Instructorship
The instructorship was established in 1999 by alumnae of the Northampton School for Girls to note the importance of that school in their lives, and to support the focus on the education of young women that remains a part of the commitment of the merged schools.
Ms. Magovern is an insightful thinker on teaching and learning. Her continual reflection on the craft has resulted in an evolving philosophy. Students in her classes are required to think through free writing exercises, peer review critiques, and an “all share” format for discussions on the readings.
When Ms. Magovern describes the process of rereading a book as “the experience of seeing an old friend,” it is easy to sense the joy and enthusiasm for her life’s work. In her well-organized classes, Ms. Magovern encourages her students to challenge themselves intellectually and to realize the high standards she sets.
Ms. Magovern requires that students read and think critically, delve beneath the surface of a literary passage, and explore its deeper meanings. Her teaching celebrates individual interpretations and results in higher-level learning.
Her willingness to think creatively and boldly, her inspiring leadership of the English Department, and her care and support for her colleagues has earned her great respect in our community.
Karin O’Neil Instructorship
The instructorship was established in 2001 by alumni and friends of former Associate Head Karin O’Neil. Ms. O’Neil directed much of the school’s program for over 30 years and enabled the school to achieve great progress and to aspire to the highest levels of scholarship.
Since arriving on Williston’s campus in 1979, Ms. Grant has provided Williston students with an energetic and encouraging classroom environment. Her students appreciate her well-organized curriculum, thorough preparation, and attention to detail. Her students arrive in class each day knowing that her demeanor will be steady—both positive and upbeat.
Ms. Grant appeals to different learning styles with a variety of activities in each class. She is clear and consistent in her expectations, and her students thrive under her guidance. She possesses the enthusiasm to excite her students and the patience necessary to allow them to grow. She is incredibly generous in providing extra help for any student who needs additional support.
All of these qualities help make language learning more accessible for her students. In the words of one of her students, “She explains complicated concepts in a simple way that helps us learn.” Like Karin O’Neil, for whom this instructorship is named, Ms. Grant has helped Williston students achieve the highest levels of scholarship for over 30 years.