Williams Launches Center at Mt. Greylock Regional School

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Dec. 4, 2007 — Williams College announced today the launching Jan. 2 of a center at Mt. Greylock Regional School with the goal of maximizing the academic value the college can provide the school.

“Williams students, faculty, and staff are already involved in a number of ways at the school,” President Morton Owen Schapiro said, “but there’s potential for so much more. Through this center we aim to work more closely with Mt. Greylock faculty to realize this fuller potential, to the benefit of both institutions.”

The center’s coordinator will be Kaatje White, who has worked on many collaborations involving Williams and local schools.

“While facing the financial and other challenges that currently confront all public schools, Mt. Greylock is a strong school in many ways,” White said, “and with the greater involvement of Williams students, faculty, and staff, it can become an even more exciting place to teach and learn. Everyone I’ve talked to at the school and the college about the development of a center have been excited.”

White will coordinate the educational collaborations that already exist between the school and the college, develop new ones, and ensure that center activities focus on enhancing the school’s mission.

The principles guiding the center will be that it:

Benefit all students at the school
Focus on core academic skills
Accent the excitement of teaching and learning those skills
Engage all relevant school faculty
Engage as many college students, faculty, and staff as possible
Start by coordinating current efforts but with an eye to growing them
Result in no financial burden on the school.

Announcement of the center’s launching was made at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Mt. Greylock School Committee, where the Long-Range Financial Planning Subcommittee issued its final report. One of the report’s recommendations was that the school work to enhance greatly its collaborations with Williams.

“Since Mt. Greylock’s educational quality and finances are so intertwined,” the report said, “the greatest potential advance for the school may be the development of a much stronger relationship than already exists with the educational powerhouse that is Williams.”

The school currently makes use of several college facilities, including for science labs and athletics, and the college passes on to the school equipment it no longer uses, such as computers. School science faculty work with college faculty in the summer to prepare labs for school courses and Mt. Greylock students are eligible to take part in science research at the college in the summer. Other college faculty are directly involved with high school classes and college students volunteer at the school and tutor Mt. Greylock students at various levels. College students offer most of the workshops in Where’d You Learn That?! — an after-school program for Mt. Greylock Middle School students, which the college financially supports. Qualifying Mt. Greylock seniors are eligible to take one course each semester at Williams for free.

As part of the college’s program of Olmsted Awards, Mt. Greylock each year receives $5,000 to grant faculty for professional or curricular development. Williams has also donated funds to the school in support of specific projects, including the purchase of student information software, professional support for the most recent superintendent search, and outside consulting for efforts such as coordination of the math curriculums at Mt. Greylock and its feeder schools.

White has served as co-founder and co-director of Where’d You Learn That?! and as co-director of Adventures in Learning, an after-school enrichment program at Williamstown Elementary School, supported by Williams and taught mostly by the college’s students. She also coordinates the college’s involvement in the federal programs America Counts and America Reads, through which more than 50 Williams students work in local schools as tutors and teaching assistants. At Williamstown Elementary she has directed the summer program and co-directed the before-school language program and she has served as interim administrator of the Howard Hughes Science Outreach Program, through which, among other things, 40 Williams students serve as teaching assistants at elementary schools in Williamstown and North Adams. She has served also as a member of the Williamstown Elementary School Committee.

Mt. Greylock Superintendent William Travis responded to the announcement by saying: “A Williams College Center at Mt. Greylock is potentially the most significant educational enhancement the district has received. Unlike a grant, which has a fixed purpose and funding cycle, the center’s guiding principles will help bolster our teachers’ instructional strengths, expose our students to new intellectual opportunities, and enhance the resources needed to help all our students meet high, rigorous goals.”