Ninth Grade Program (C.O.R.E.)

“You need to be curious to function in class, and it’s an important aspect of life. It’s important to be organized, particularly in the first year of high school. We are starting the next stage of life, and it’s good to be able to reflect on that. Empathy allows us to understand other people better.” - Sylvia Skerry ’14

C.O.R.E - Williston's Ninth Grade Program - debuted in September 2008 with one simple but vitally important mission: to provide extra support to students as they make the important transition to high school.

C.O.R.E. (Curiosity, Organization, Reflection, and Empathy) is the theme and the foundation of the program. These qualities apply to the classroom, dormitory life, the Williston community, and beyond.

Strong academic and social support for all ninth grade students creates the foundation for a successful Williston experience. The program’s goal is to help students understand how much support they have available to them, and how best to use that support to make the entire Williston experience fruitful. It also aims to foster powerful and lasting friendships among ninth graders and between day and boarding students.

Before school begins, the class goes on a two-night orientation trip where they are introduced to C.O.R.E. Throughout the year, teachers and advisors refer back to the lessons learned during the trip.

Along with the orientation trip, study skills workshops, special assemblies, and community service projects, the Ninth Grade Program makes sure that communication between students, teachers, and advisors is efficient and timely, because good communication is a vital part of providing proper support.

“We are all trying to put our ninth graders into the best positions possible for success, and I think we are.”
Matt Sawyer, coordinator

About the coordinators:

Allison Marsland came to Williston in 1992 as an admission officer and history teacher, after five years in the Admission Office at Amherst College. As Associate Director of Admission and Dorm Head of 194 Main, Allison has taken a special interest in the ninth grade. She holds a BA from Amherst College and an MA from the University of Massachusetts.

Matt Sawyer came to Williston in 1994. With more than 15 years experience teaching English, Matt has also coached varsity football, basketball, and baseball, and lived in various boys’ and girls’ dormitories. He has a BA from Amherst College, an MA from Middlebury College, and an MEd from Columbia University. As part of his graduate work at Columbia and during a sabbatical, Matt visited a number of independent schools and studied their ninth grade programs.

The Williston Northampton School
19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA 01027 | Phone: (413) 529-3000

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Founded in 1841, Williston is a student-centered, coeducational institution comprising a Middle School of day students and an Upper School of boarding and day students from 25 states and 27 countries.
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