College funds Mount Greylock initiatives

Last June, the Williams College Fund for Mount Greylock Regional High School granted $450,000 to Mount Greylock Regional High School.

Mount Greylock accepted a donation from the fund for the third year in a row at the School Committee’s monthly meeting on June 18. Over the next two years, the Williams Community Fund Program Committee, consisting of members from the College, Mount Greylock and the Williamstown-Lanesborough community will oversee the investment of the grant. This year Mount Greylock will use a portion of the funds to hire a consulting firm, the International Center for Leadership in Education, to conduct an evaluation of  the guidance department at the high school.

In 2011 and 2012, Mount Greylock High School used grants of $135,000 and $150,000, respectively, to fund professional development and purchase new technology. The College hopes the donations will fund a four-year plan to restore the quality of education at Mount Greylock after a period of decline in which professional development spending fell to less than 10 percent of the state average.

“The funding accelerated the transformation of the educational experience at Mount Greylock to be more progressive, innovative and future-focused. Critical components of that effort included increasing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, upgrading all aspects of technology and offering a world-class curriculum … As a result of this extraordinary funding Mount Greylock has gone from a school identified as ‘needing corrective action’ in 2010 MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System] by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to a top Level 1 ranked school last year, 2012,” Rose Ellis, superintendent of the Mount Greylock Regional District, said.

The Jeffrey family, of which 35 members have attended Williams since 1896, fund every grant the College has given Mount Greylock. After hearing President Falk speak of his concerns about the school, 20 members of the family donated to the College with the purpose of improving the quality of education at Mount Greylock.

The College holds the donations from the Jeffreys and reimburses Mount Greylock for costs associated with professional development programs that the College believes will improve the quality of education for Mount Greylock students, as opposed to putting the money toward utilities and teacher salaries in order to keep the tax rate down.

“My understanding is that it was the [College] President’s idea that we needed to improve Mount Greylock High School to attract good faculty to the College … We’ve had a long experience with Williams and this was an unusual but important way to support the College,” Richard Jeffrey ’52 said.

The College considers the presence of a good public school district an important consideration for faculty and staff who might accept positions at Williams. In 2008, the College launched the Williams Center at Mount Greylock to coordinate programs by which teachers at Mount Greylock can use Williams students, professors and facilities.

“The health of the local community is important to the health of the College. One of the important aspects of that is the availability of quality public education for faculty and staff,” Jim Kolesar ’72, vice president for public affairs, said. “The quality of education that we can provide to students hinges on nothing more than the quality of faculty and staff … and it’s a significant issue of recruitment and retention of first-rate quality faculty and staff to have high quality local public education so the College had reason to get increasingly more involved in the school.”

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