Williston will be a school that transcends the boundaries and limitations of traditional classroom walls. We believe a vibrant school culture, challenging curriculum, outstanding faculty, and thoughtful embrace of technology are at the heart of an inclusive boarding school community.
To realize this vision, we have identified five main priorities, each with several goals, in our strategic plan: academic excellence, balanced boarding school culture, outreach and engagement, leadership development, and a firm financial foundation. Take a look at our full strategic plan, included below, to read more about the school’s vision for the future.
Read our Strategic Plan below.
Williston recognizes that academic excellence is an essential component of a valuable boarding school experience. We promote excellence and achievement in and out of the classroom by encouraging our community of learners to accept and engage in intellectual challenge. We set the highest standards for teaching, learning, creativity, and scholarship within and across disciplines.
Williston values individual growth and expression as a way to create an authentic, diverse, and dynamic community. We expect students and faculty to develop, share, and pursue their unique passions and interests. Williston supports personal development and self-discovery by promoting meaningful participation in a wide array of academic, artistic, community service, and athletic programs.
Williston believes responsibility begins with personal integrity and self-respect and extends to our relationships with others. We work to instill qualities such as fairness, honesty, empathy, and generosity of spirit in our students and faculty in order to develop their leadership and to make meaningful contributions within and beyond our school boundaries.
Williston cultivates strong relationships on many levels, student-to-student, student-to-teacher, and teacher-to-teacher, leveraging the boarding school model to create a vibrant and genuine experience for students. We are proud of our unassuming community that encourages engagement and service, embraces diversity of thought, and promotes strong stewardship of the rights and responsibilities of the school.
Williston views collaboration as an essential skill that is both relevant and necessary for today’s world. By developing students’ ability to collaborate with each other, with teachers, and with the greater community, Williston helps them gain a broader and more applicable context for learning. We actively seek out partnerships in our community, including the outstanding colleges and universities surrounding our campus, to augment our school environment.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE GOALS
GOAL 1: Model and celebrate standards of academic excellence
in our community
The school believes that supporting faculty through professional development opportunities and fostering collaboration between students and faculty are among the best ways to set a high standard for student achievement. Williston will focus on using technology in academic settings, developing cultural literacy, and creating opportunities for students to work on complex projects.
GOAL 2: Fully develop the Williston Scholars Program as the centerpiece experience that is available to all students who want to participate
Williston will distinguish itself through the development of its signature academic program: the Williston Scholars Program, an innovative and personalized learning model. Through a college-level framework, where students are encouraged to work independently and collaborate with faculty at the Five Colleges, they can pursue interests, build partnerships, and explore
complex problems with depth, creativity, and rigor.
GOAL 3: Strengthen student outcomes and assessments in alignment with standards
Williston will measure excellence by creating digital assessments and metrics to help students, faculty, and the administration
understand what works and how to make it better.
Goal 4: Recruit, renew, and retain superior teaching faculty
The first steps in having the best faculty possible are to identify and to hire them. But even the best teachers need opportunities to learn—particularly from other teachers. The school will focus on a strong mentoring program with regular feedback, as well as individual and departmental assessments and professional development opportunities.
GOAL 5: Enhance and promote the college counseling experience through integration with academic advising
The college counseling process is an essential part of student development. As a result, the school will develop an integrated college advising program earlier in a student’s Williston experience by linking academic advising more closely with the college process to make the student and family experience even better.
BALANCED BOARDING SCHOOL CULTURE
Williston approaches the boarding school model in a progressive way, matching established traditions and practices with new ones. A vibrant residential community enhances the experience for all students—day and boarding. Such a diverse campus creates meaningful relationships and gives students access to professionals, spaces, and programs. Adults in the community also help students develop the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and resilience.
GOAL 1: Strengthen community life to be relevant and inclusive of all students
At a boarding school, the learning opportunities extend well beyond the classroom. Williston will increase the evening academic experience for all students—particularly when it comes to involving day students in residential life. This means, for example, more
“sit-down” meals together and evening programming.
GOAL 2: Create structures and mechanisms to support a more robust residential life
No residential life program could be successful without examining the spaces where people live. To that end, the school will conduct a comprehensive review of the facility master plan to both increase and improve residential space. Since people are an essential part of the residential program, Williston will increase the number of faculty living on campus while also engaging all faculty in the
residential program, be it community life, athletics, art, health
and wellness, or co-curricular activities.
GOAL 3: Cultivate and expand a service learning mindset for students within the academic and co-curricular program
Williston believes in shaping its students as future leaders and that leadership is an essential part of the mission and values of the school. To that end, the school will provide more opportunities for students to fully engage in leadership responsibilities both on and off campus.
GOAL 4: Achieve strategic alignment between the Middle School and Upper School
The transition between the Williston Middle School and Upper School should be seamless. Williston will review the existing programs to make sure that alignment is happening—and to look for better ways to improve the collaboration between the Middle and Upper School to make sure the school is following the best practices at all levels.
OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT
Williston will advance its name and reputation through effective relationships, strategic communications, and engagement efforts. Williston will strengthen and grow its community and promote its profile among other schools locally, nationally, and globally.
GOAL 1: Increase market recognition of the Williston Northampton School
The best way to promote Williston is to effectively communicate the school’s identity. Williston will review all materials and content about the school, its academic programs, and residential life to make sure the best and most distinctive qualities are the ones it promotes at the forefront.
GOAL 2: Continue to strengthen admissions for grades 7-12
The cornerstone of a school is its student body. Admission will identify prospective students who will benefit most from Williston and contribute in significant ways to their class and the community.
GOAL 3: Strengthen communication and engagement with parents and alumni
Williston’s engagement with its community doesn’t stop with the students and faculty on campus. The school wants to ensure quality, frequency, and consistency of alumni and parent communications to make sure Williston is meeting their needs. The school will collaborate with alumni and parents about programs and opportunities, and continue to enhance other special events on and off campus.
GOAL 4: Foster a culture of philanthropy
Whether they’re alumni, parents, students, or staff, everyone at Williston plays a critical role in creating a culture of giving. The school will continue to develop student programming to support financial literacy, responsibility, and stewardship while educating students about philanthropy.
Williston will strengthen and deepen its leadership at all levels of the school. The school will cultivate effective leaders among students, faculty, and staff to promote excellence now and in the future.
GOAL 1: Foster and sustain effective governance and leadership
A school depends on good leadership to take the institution in the right directions. Williston will set expectations for continual growth and leadership development throughout the institution and among the Board of Trustees. The school will also engage the talent and expertise of trustees in all strategic areas.
GOAL 2: Align talent and resources with the highest strategic priorities
As the strategic plan will serve as a guide for the school, Williston will reorganize the administrative and academic leadership to focus on the school’s priorities and goals. The school will conduct an assessment of its current leadership and will match the talents and skills of its staff to the various strategic initiatives.
GOAL 3: Develop teachers as leaders
Williston believes that its teachers can make the most effective leaders. The school will provide training to expand teachers’ pedagogical foundations as coaches and facilitators. Williston will also create more opportunities for teachers, so they can model, coach, and effectively exhibit leadership for students and other faculty.
GOAL 4: Strengthen and expand student leadership opportunities
Williston also believes in fostering students’ leadership skills within the arenas of academic, athletic, and residential life. The school will identify academic and co-curricular activities—such as athletics, arts, and clubs—that are sources of strength and leverage them in other areas.
FIRM FINANCIAL FOUNDATION
Williston must continue to build a solid financial foundation and develop new resources to make sure the school’s model is sustainable. Williston plans to foster a financially prudent operating model that will serve the school for years to come through strong leadership, institutional alignment, and innovative practices.
GOAL 1: Actively model and plan for stabilized net tuition revenue over the next five years
The school will evaluate the admission process for both the Upper and Middle Schools to determine how enrollment and financial aid are working together.
GOAL 2: Examine compensation practices for strategic alignment
Williston believes in fair pay and will make sure faculty fully understand all of their responsibilities, both on and off campus, and how they align with compensation and benefits.
GOAL 3: Develop a comprehensive plan to provide an appropriate level of physical plant investment
Williston is constantly evolving and improving—especially when
it comes to campus spaces. The school will determine facilities
that need improvement now, identify others that should be addressed through larger future projects, and regularly measure deferred maintenance.
GOAL 4: Use innovative approaches to secure financial
As with all schools, Williston is constantly considering new sources of income and ways to mitigate financial pressures. The school will pursue sources of auxiliary revenue, new collaborations, and partnerships. Williston will also build endowment to ease the reliance on operating revenue.