Mount Greylock Accepts $450,000 from Williams Fund

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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Williams College spokesman James Kolesar announces a $450,000 gift to Mount Greylock Regional High School on Tuesday evening.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The "world-class institution of higher learning next door" continues to benefit Mount Greylock Regional High School.

On Tuesday evening, the high school's relationship with Williams College was front and center at the monthly meeting of the School Committee, at which the school district accepted a $450,000 donation from the Williams College Fund for Mount Greylock.

This marks the third year that the school has received money from a fund started by the Jeffrey family, which includes a number of Williams alumni and which is descended from Joseph A. Jeffrey, founder of a successful Ohio manufacturing firm that today exists solely as a private investment company.

And this year's donation marks the first year the Jeffrey family's generosity has inspired local donors to contribute $27,500 toward the fund.

In all, those contributions and more than $700,000 from the Jeffreys alone have added up to $733,000 over the last three years to "support innovative projects at the school."

"This began when a Williams alumna became interested in helping the college through support of the middle and senior high school," college spokesman James Kolesar said in announcing the grant. "Since then, the family has noted several things.

"They've noted the change in leadership here, the new sense of cooperation between teachers, administration and the School Committee. They've noted good mechanisms in place for spending this money. They've been aware of signs of positive effects on students of all abilities. They've noted signs of local support."

"I'm speechless," Mount Greylock Superintendent Rose Ellis said.

But in a news release that accompanied the announcement, Ellis talked about the impact of the Jeffreys' generosity.

"What a spectacular shot in the arm these funds are to our school," Ellis said in the release. "We are stunned by the generosity of these donors and by the investment in our community that it represents. Since we could never thank them enough with words, we will honor their commitment by working hard to ensure that these funds are used to maximize growth and learning for all students at Mount Greylock."

School Committee member David Langston, left, with new Principal Mary MacDonald and Stephen Hemman of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools.

Later in Tuesday's meeting, Ellis and Mount Greylock's new principal, Mary MacDonald, noted several tangible impacts of past gifts from the Jeffrey family.

Thanks to a study funded by the gift, the administration Tuesday recommended — and the committee approved — a move to create a new full-time director of athletics and co-curricular activities position to replace what was formerly a part-time athletic director slot. This year, the school plans to work with the Rexford, N.Y.'s, International Center for Leadership in Education on an evaluation of Mount Greylock's guidance department.

In the past, Jeffrey family funds have supported ICLE's study of Mount Greylock's science and science curricula.

"Having just come out of what could have been a difficult [teacher] contract negotiation, this fund created an environment where that conversation could go forward with a great deal of good will," MGRS Committee member David Langston said.

Langston also personally thanked Kolesar, who serves as a special assistant to the president for public affairs at Williams.

"You have not been an insignificant player in all this," Langston said.

In other business on Tuesday, the committee approved its end-of-year evaluation of Ellis, who received high marks from all of the committee members with an overall rating of "proficient" by four of the panel's members and "exemplary" by three.

The committee also finalized the 2013-14 junior-senior high school calendar. The school year at Mount Greylock will begin for students on Sept. 4, the Wednesday after Labor Day and end (barring snow days) on June 18. Mount Greylock will be in line with the Williamstown Elementary School's, but Tri-District Superintendent Ellis reported she was unable this year to synchronize those two schedules with the calendar for Lanesborough Elementary School.

The committee approved a letter inviting Adams' Karen's School of Driving to conduct classes at the high school by paying a $25 usage fee for classroom space. In the past, Mount Greylock has hosted only Pittsfield's Dave's School of Driving, and it will continue to make space available to Dave's or other licensed driving schools in the area.

The School Committee had no new updates on the Massachusetts School Building Authority process but discussed sending a representative to the authority's July 31 meeting whether or not Mount Greylock's "Statement of Interest" is on the agenda.

MGRS Chairwoman Carolyn Greene noted that the district's efforts expand its regional agreement to include WES and are paying dividends as it concurrently tries to address its aging infrastructure.

"Working with the regionalization process, we've raised our profile with MSBA," Greene said. "That's one thing I've learned in this process. MSBA, [the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools], [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] — they all talk to each other."

Tags: education fund,   MGRHS,   Williams College,   

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