Editor’s note: this address was given by Dean of Faculty Peter Valine during Assembly on September 25, 2019.
The George E. Gregory and Catherine B. Gregory Instructorship was established in 2007 by Dick Gregory, former faculty member, in honor of his parents. The purpose of this instructorship is to recognize the initiatives of a young faculty member in the fine arts-in and out of the classroom.
The Gregory Instructorship recipient once summarized his work “as serving to make the work of others more visible.” By design and function much of his work is to stay in the background and enhance the performance of others by literally and figuratively shining a spotlight on their work.
Now, nine years in to his tenure at Williston, we have been blessed by this colleague who continues to excel in his multiple roles in our community. In the classroom, his teaching load has changed in recent years from working with our older students to now capturing the imagination of our youngest students. His pedagogy is based around the model of student as creator as he encourages his Middle School students to take ownership of their learning and to take an idea and make it come alive. He supports his students by providing them with clear expectations, by employing instructional demonstrations, and by offering frequent and constructive feedback. One of his strengths in the classroom is to have students challenge their assumptions and understandings by inspiring them to “think outside the box”. While he provides the encouragement and structure to enable his students to succeed, he doesn’t provide them the answers. As one student wrote recently on a student feedback survey, “He lets us grow and gives us guidance when we need it, but he lets us figure out the problems ourselves.
An important area of responsibility for the Gregory recipient is serving as Technical Director of the Williston Theater. In this role he oversees the designing and construction of the sets and provides for the lighting needs for all the theatrical performances. This job is comprehensive in its scale and scope as it involves working on set design, renderings, and models in the summer months, ordering the necessary materials, and then training and overseeing the construction process with students in the Tech Theater program. His creativity and problem-solving skills have enabled him to overcome some very challenging hurdles in set design and construction. His strong organization skills, his extensive knowledge and expertise, and a good dose of patience and perseverance allow him to navigate these responsibilities with grace and with success.
His colleagues respect him as a good listener and a dedicated arts educator. He is an eager, thoughtful, and generous collaborator who brings a wealth of experience and insight to departmental discussions. His knowledge of digital art, and his facility with audio visual equipment have made him a valuable resource for the entire Williston community. Theatre Director Emily Ditkovski who has worked closely him for 10 years commented that “He instills a passion in his students not only for technical theater, but for theatre as a whole. He understands that theatre is much more than just a source of entertainment, but a way for us to better understand ourselves and our world.”
I am pleased today to cast this well-deserving colleague out from behind the curtain and to shine a spotlight on his significant contributions to the Williston community by announcing that the new recipient of The George E. Gregory and Catherine B. Gregory Instructorship is Charles Raffetto.