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.”
In addition to adopting physical technology into his classroom, Mr. Seamon has carved out space in his lesson plans for Twitter and other social media. To demonstrate their knowledge of mathematical concepts, Mr. Seamon has his students take photos of mathematical concepts and tweet them with the hashtag #mathinreallife.
The trait that set Mr. Seamon apart from the other candidates, said Dean of Faculty Peter Valine, was his “boundless energy.” The impression he made during his interview was so strong that, “the math department lobbied to bring [him] in as the new head of the department,” said Mr. Valine.
This spring Williston is offering a new Ultimate Frisbee program. Head Coach Paul Rutherford drummed up enthusiasm amongst students last season, when it was offered at the club level, and anticipates Mr. Seamon’s positive energy and expertise will accelerate the growth of the Williston program at the varsity level. “Coming from Amherst, [Mr. Seamon] knows what it takes to be successful and we both want to create a top tier program at Williston,” he said.
Ultimate Frisbee, A Family Affair
In 1977 when the sport was still a pickup game, Mr. Seamon’s father, then a student at Hampshire College, took the photographs of the sport that were published by TIME magazine. Mr. Seamon played for Amherst High School and was a member of the first ever team to win the National Title in 1998. His brother was a member of the Amherst 2003 National Champions, and his youngest brother has just begun to play competitively.
Serving on the Board of Directors for USA Ultimate, the governing body for Ultimate Frisbee in the United States, Mr. Seamon ran coaching clinics and events across the country. While teaching at St. Johnsbury, Mr. Seamon transformed the team from a club to a varsity level program.
Mr. Seamon was recently asked to run the coaching development program at Camp Ultimate Peace. Begun in 2009, a residential summer camp in Israel, Camp Ultimate Peace brings teens from Israel and Palestine together under the umbrella of Ultimate Frisbee.
“One of the big things about Ultimate [Frisbee]…is that there is no third party interference for making decisions on the field,” he said. Referees are not present in Ultimate Frisbee games. When a foul occurs, the players discuss it and decide on a resolution on their own. “There are tense moments but the fallback is that they already trust each other as friends and as people,” he explained.
When spring rolls around on the Williston campus and the Ultimate Frisbee team begins their practices, look for a multitude of #mathinreallife tweets. Mr. Seamon’s students might just be calculating the arc of a Frisbee flying through the air.
Mr. Seamon will be advising and living in Sawyer House with his two golden retrievers, Jasmine and Mabel.