The Distinguished Service Award is the preeminent service award which the school bestows upon members of our community. Since its inception in 1959, the Distinguished Service Award has been given to individuals who have shown through their actions an exceptional measure of devotion to The Williston Northampton School. This year, we are delighted to recognize two truly extraordinary and unparalleled faculty members with this award whose service to the school is characterized by their deep commitment, genuine compassion, resourceful creativity, and stalwart leadership.
It is our great honor to present the Distinguished Service Award to Ann Pickrell and Greg Tuleja, in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the academic, athletic, and cultural life of Williston Northampton School.
When it comes to Greg Tuleja, I can cite any number of highlights of his 39-year career at Williston: his legendary run as girls cross-country coach, his accomplishments as a teacher of music and English, his success as an administrator culminating in his work as Academic Dean. But Greg will tell you that what stands out for him is the personal. In his own words: “When I’m in my office and students come by just to say hello, that to me is everything that Williston has meant to me. Those moments happen all the time, and those are the biggest ones for me.”
Greg started at Williston in the fall of 1983, working half-time, teaching two classes, coaching two sports, and living in a dorm with 75 sophomore boys. By the next year he was a full-time teacher, then served as a college counselor, Director of Studies, and eventually Academic Dean. When he began to miss the classroom mid-career, he returned to teach English 9 and AP Music Theory.
Greg’s appointment as Head Coach of girls cross-country by Athletic Director Rick Francis may be his most serendipitous moment at Williston. Greg’s teams had 25 consecutive winning seasons (including three undefeated) and two NEPSAC championships and compiled an astounding record of 274–95. When asked recently about his coaching style, he replied, “My first rule every year is to make sure that the kids know that I appreciate what they’re doing, and that I know how hard it is.”
As an administrator in a constantly evolving profession, Greg has said that what keeps him encouraged is the passion of Williston students, which he asserts is a quality that today remains as strong as ever. He maintains that from his first year he’s always felt that the kids want to be here. He says, “They were eager not only in cross-country, but in the music classroom, and in the dorms. They were excited about being at the school and they wanted a connection with the adults. Nearly 40 years later, that’s still the same. … When alums come back, and they’re running up to you because they haven’t seen you in years and want to say hello—there’s something really warm and valuable and authentic about the relationship that’s established here.” Thank you, Greg, for being the kind of teacher, coach and administrator that our students value and respect, and our alums will continue to remember fondly with admiration for decades to come.