The Williams School is proud of its academic reputation. A course
catalog offers only a glimpse of what it means to be a student at the
school, but it does offer a window on the academic life. Graduation
requirements, expectations and descriptions of courses follow. The
faculty is committed to developing approaches to teaching that meet the
needs of students and that engage them in the process of learning. They
use many forms of instruction ranging from traditional lectures and
demonstrations to seminars, group work, laboratory experiments, field
trips, performances, and technology explorations.
The Williams School seeks to help students realize their potential. At
its most pragmatic level, the aim of the program is to equip students
with the skills necessary for success in college and in life. At its
most idealistic, the aim is to encourage intellectual curiosity and the
love of learning. At every level the teachers never lose sight of the
formation of character. The curriculum puts its faith in the civilizing
effects of the humanities and of the arts and in the power of the
scientific method. Teachers put their faith in their students and in
their disciplines, believing in the potential of the students and in the
importance of the subjects taught. Ours is a traditional curriculum,
enhanced by technology, which stresses the connections among the various
subjects. The faculty members are also learners who try to bring to the
program effective pedagogy and scholarship. We believe a Williams
graduate is well taught, well informed, and ready for a demanding
The division between the Middle and Upper School is more than a
classification according to grade. The sixth, seventh and eighth grade
curriculum is based on a middle school philosophy responsive to the
developmental needs and learning styles of younger students. The Upper
School follows a college preparatory program, which increases in its
demands throughout the four years. Advanced Placement and some elective
courses in the senior year are taught at the college level. Placement in
Honors and Advanced Placement level courses is subject to department
The school year consists of two semesters, each two
quarters in length. Teachers assess the students by letter grade and
written comment every quarter. Upper School courses generally have
formal examinations as end of semester assessments.
gain college credit by taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses and
examinations in certain subjects. Each department offering Advanced
Placement courses may require additional summer work, and, in some
cases, additional class work.
Seniors are encouraged to work on a
Senior Project preceding graduation. These projects require careful
planning, and students must have the help of a faculty advisor. Oral and
written presentation of the results of the project is required.
benefits greatly from its connection with Connecticut College. The
school makes use of a number of the College’s facilities, and selected
students are able to take courses at the College in their senior year.
In turn, Connecticut College students can pair with Williams’ faculty as
A number of the best students in the Senior
class are inducted into the Williams Chapter of the Cum Laude Society, a
national honor society.
The average class size at Williams is 13; the student-teacher ratio is 9:1.
Students may take independent study classes or independent projects when
time, circumstance, and student and teacher workloads provide for them.
There is no guarantee that a course or project will be allowed simply
because a student wishes to take one.
Requests for independent
study should be referred by the teacher or the student who wishes to
take the independent study or course to the Department Chair and then to
the Assistant Head of School and the Department Heads, who serve as the
curriculum committee. A rationale for the study, a syllabus, a
statement of scope and sequence, and an outline for assessment and
evaluation should be provided. The student’s advisor, as in the yearly
selection of courses, must also approve. The Department Heads will
decide if the course/study will be taught and if it should be awarded
credit by the school.
Department Heads and the Assistant Head of
School will have responsibility for the monitoring of the effectiveness
of the independent study programs.