Four Faculty Members Honored During 183rd Convocation Ceremony

During Williston Northampton’s 183rd convocation ceremony on September 8, four members of the faculty were honored for their commitment and dedication to the school and its students.

The Granniss Faculty Chair, established in 1999, was awarded to Karla Schaffer.

Additionally, three faculty members were recognized for 25 years of service to the school: Nat Simpson, David Koritkoski, and Susan Michalski.

Below are the remarks provided by Dean of Faculty Corinne Fogg ’99 during the ceremony:

Presentation of Awards 

The Granniss Faculty Chair was established in 1999 by Eugenie Granniss, widow of Charles Gardiner Granniss who was a member of the Williston class of 1929. It is awarded to a faculty member who personifies the pure joy of sharing the process of learning.

To participate in and foster students’ learning, this year’s recipient of the Granniss Faculty Chair demonstrates a contagious joy for content. Whether in the classroom, on the field, or in the dorm, this year’s recipient moves throughout the Williston community with humble intentionality. In researching her alma mater, it became clear that the mission of Mercyhurst lives on in her work, for she cultivates the flourishing of both reason and faith in students, combining the core values of mercy, responsibility, compassion, hospitality, intellectual creativity, and reflection as an accomplished alumna. 

Employing a unique pedagogy among her peers, she grounds her teaching in the student voice, centering their expertise and moving out of the way to draw them into the center – or rather, the midpoint, where all radii intersect. She relies on students to present their thinking, challenges, and learning; establishes space for robust discussion and debate around the “best” methods for solving a problem; and keeps discovery as the heartbeat of her work. In my observations of her teaching, students are learning persuasion, resourcefulness, confidence, conflict resolution, and patience as they navigate open-ended and real-world problems in math. Her methods allow her to lead from the periphery, moving about the circumference and setting up scenarios for students to triumph and trial. 

A quiet example of purpose for students and colleagues alike, Mrs. Schaffer moves in space with humility and gentleness. English statistician, Florence Nightingale is quoted as remarking that, “Statistics is the most important science in the whole world: for upon it depends the practical application of every other science and of every art: the one science essential to all political and social administration, all education, all organization based on experience, for it only gives results of our experience.” While some might argue with the Times’ “lady with the lamp,” Mrs. Schaffer certainly brings statistics – and all levels of math – to life, combining science and art for a holistic learning experience. 

In recognition of the joy she brings to her teaching and to her students, it is my pleasure to announce the Granniss Chair recipient, Mrs. Karla Schaffer. 

25 Year Chairs 

One of the special traditions at Convocation is honoring faculty who have committed 25 years of their lives to Williston by presenting them with a Williston Chair. This year, we honor three outstanding members of the faculty. 

David Koritkoski began his career at Williston in the History and Global Studies Department in 1999. Fresh out of UMass Amherst, Mr. Koritkoski has made the Williston mission his 25 years life’s work. In 2011, he was awarded the Prigmore Chair for “teaching history with a perspective that encourages students to seek out all of the contributors leading up to the events history has recorded.” He has served as Dorm Head, History Teacher, Swimming and Diving Coach, and now devotes his energies to steadily advancing and enhancing the day and residential student experience at Williston. 

Please join me in congratulating David Koritkoski on 25 years of teaching and leading at Williston. 

Sue Michalski also joined the Williston community in 1999, having fallen in love with French via the Rassias Method during her undergraduate time at Dartmouth College. She is an accomplished teacher of French, a Fulbright Teaching Fellow, a beloved Dorm Parent at Walnut Hill and now Williston, and she and her family have made this valley home, raising two daughters on campus. In her time at Williston, Ms. Michalski has ushered forward innumerable scholars of French, instilling a genuine zeal for both language and culture. In her time at Williston, Ms. Michalski has served as Dorm Head, French Teacher, and Vice President of the Cum Laude Society. In 2014, she was honored with the Hagedorn Family Faculty Chair. 

Please join me in congratulating Sue Michalski on 25 years of service to Williston. 

Nat Simpson also celebrates his 25th year with the Williston community, having taught Spanish across all levels before arriving in 1999. An NMH alum himself, Mr. Simpson was innately called to boarding school life at Williston where “brave and honest souls are gathered.” In his time, he has served the school as Dorm Head, Squash Coach, Spanish Teacher, International Student Program Coordinator, Chair of NEASC Committee for Faculty, and Department Head. In these capacities, Mr. Simpson has been committed to cultivating belonging, placing the highest value on integrity and faith. In 2007, Mr. Simpson was honored with the Karin O’Neil Instructorship. Raising three children on our campus, Mr. Simpson and his family have made Williston their home. 

Please join me in a warm congratulations for Nat Simpson as he celebrates 25 years of service to Williston.