Donald Singleton, Lecturer in Russian, and Pratt House Custodian Catherine Boody won the first annual Faculty and Staff award initiated by College Council and determined by student votes.
The Faculty and Staff award is given in recognition of the “ability or efforts to improve communications, relations and interactions with students,” as stated in the CC bylaws. After reviewing approximately 30 nominations, the election committee deliberated for hours before making their final decision.
The election committee consisted of the four At-large Representatives Brian Connors ‘00, Kate Ervin ‘99, Katie Hansen ‘00 and Jeremy Rothe-Kushel ‘00; Co-President Mac Harman; Class Representatives Sam Abelson ‘98, Anh Nguyen ‘99, Bert Leatherman ‘00, and additional CC members Elizabeth Lee ‘01 and Ami Parekh ‘01.
“We deliberated for a long time because it came down to questions like ‘quantity verses quality [of nominations]’,” Parekh said. “We were trying to choose for over one-and-a-half hours and we still couldn’t make a final decisionâ€”we made a final decision just this week.”
Both Boody and Singleton received many nominations, and a nomination letter for each of the winners was read at the presentation ceremony. They were each awarded dinner for two at Hobson’s Choice Restaurant. Plaques recognizing this award will be displayed in the snack bar where students and faculty often meet outside of class.
“I was very honored. It was a very nice surprise to get the call from a member of the College Council,” Singleton said.
As a Russian language professor, Singleton is able to develop meaningful relationships within the classroom. “One has fairly close contact with students in a language class, you get to know them in a special way because what do you usually do in a language class? You talk about yourself. Even through as prism of a foreign language you get to your students pretty well.” When asked why he thought he was given this award, Singleton commented it was perhaps his passion for the subject matter. “I think I’m reasonably good,” he said.
“He’s just an amazing teacher,” Laura Trice ‘00 said, “I had him for 101, 102, and 104. He’s just dynamic in class; we spoke completely in Russian since the first day of class. He’s enthusiastic and cares about his students. One time after our final in 101, four of us went out to dinner that night and we got ice cream and brought it over to his house. He invited us in and we stayed for two hours. He was completely entertaining â€” he has all these amazing stories.”
Abby Williamson ‘98 who nominated Singleton because of his “enthusiasm for teaching and his rapport with students,” wishes that more students would take advantage of the excellent Russian deparment. “I think too few students know about the wonderful teaching which goes on throughout the Russian department. With the small class size and engaged faculty, my Russian classes have consistently been among the best courses I’ve taken at Williams,” Williamson said.
When he is not teaching, Singleton enjoys playing with his four year old daughter and is active with the baseball program. “ I umpire about 110 baseball games a year. I enjoy it very much,” he said. Singleton has taught at Williams College for 10 years.
Pratt custodian Catherine Boody was given the staff award for her outstanding efforts to build relationships and community with the students around her.
“The students make my job a lot easier, and they make me want to go to work,” Boody said. “Even though I know that they’re busy, they always have time to talk to me. I think I learn a lot more from them than they learn from me.”
Boody has been working in Pratt for seven years, and plans on staying in Pratt for at least another 12 years.
“I’ve worked at a mill and a sewing factory around other adults, and I find it well worth having changed jobs. You’ve got to love your job,” Boody said.
Boody truly loves having close relationships with her students. Over the years she has kept all of the notes and pictures from her students to look back upon and remember them.
“I just hope I remember all their names when they come back for their five-year reunions,” she laughed.
“She absolutely deserves this award,” Pratt resident Meadow Linn ‘00 said. “She’s really quite amazing; she really cares about each of the students a lot. She always wants to know what we are doing, if we are in any plays she wants to know when so she can go see them. She even brought me fudge once, and she bakes cookies for some of the other suites.”
“She’s one of those people who always has a few words to say and a smile. There’s a lot of support for her, needless to say,” Liz Smith ‘00 said. “She keeps this house running smoothly.”
“I’ve just been so moved by all of this-I never expected anything like this. I love the kids, they’ve been so supportive,” Boody said.
CC was very happy with the involvement of the student body in making the award a success.
“The Award Committee was extremely impressed with the number and quality of the nominations we received,” Harman said. “It was an extremely hard choice to pick only two winners from such an outstanding group of peopleâ€”it took the committee far longer to decided than ever could have been imagined.Cathy and Don truly are special individuals and we are proud to have them at Williams and as the first winners of this new award.” “We wanted to recognize the faculty and staff who have been exceptional in building a tighter community. I think it’s a great thing to recognize these people because they’re interested in the school and student life,” Lee said.