• Jane Hannon - Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning at The Williams School

The Williams School combines the excellence of a classical liberal arts education with a commitment to preparing students to thrive as they become engaged and engaging in our our rapidly changing world. In the context of a reading and writing intensive curriculum emphasizing process and product, outstanding teachers spark and nurture students’ intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and imagination. While elective courses are available throughout the program, older students enjoy even more flexibility in creating personalized schedules to help them pursue their passions and achieve their goals. Furthermore, in addition to Honors and Advanced level work, several seniors each year qualify to take courses at Connecticut College.

At Williams, all community members collaborate to perpetuate an open atmosphere of mutual respect, providing a supportive context that encourages students to take meaningful, developmentally appropriate risks as they pursue their own academic, artistic, and athletic goals. In the classroom, students analyze and integrate complex material, find comfort in ambiguity, and are expected to avoid generalization and facile thinking. Through the arts, service, and athletics, students stretch themselves, knowing that their efforts will be recognized, supported, and appreciated by their peers. In all of these endeavors, students learn that only with collaboration, empathy, and self-discipline, is the excellence they seek attainable.

Upper School Courses

List of 6 items.

  • Arts

    Visual Art
    Art I
    Art II
    Art III
    Portfolio Development (ADV)
    Photographic and Film Studies IA
    Photographic and Film Studies IIA (ADV)

    Dance IA 
    Dance IIA
    Dance IIIA
    Ballet Basics

    Jazz Band
    Music Composition

    Acting IA
    Acting IIA
    Acting Periods & Styles (ADV)
    Musical Theatre
  • English

    English I
    English II
    English III
    English IV Electives: 
    Dystopian Literature (ADV)
    Dangerous Women in Literature
    Psychology and Literature
    Creative Writing (ADV)
    British Literature (ADV)
  • History

    Ancient World
    Modern World
    Modern World (HON)
    US History
    US History (ADV)
    Topics in Economics
    History of the Sixties
    Global Issues
    Cold War (ADV)
    Russian History (ADV)
    Modern Middle East (ADV)
  • Math

    Algebra I
    Algebra I (HON)
    Algebra II
    Algebra II (HON)
    Intro to Coding
    Geomentry (HON)
    Precalculus (HON)
    Programming in Java (ADV)
    Programming Android/iOS Apps 
    Calculus I
    Calculus I (ADV)
    Calculus II (ADV)
    Precalculus Applications in Finance
  • Modern & Classical Languages

    Modern Languages
    Spanish I
    Spanish II
    Spanish III
    Spanish III (HON)
    Spanish IV (HON)
    Spanish IV/V
    Spanish Language & Culture (ADV)

    Classical Languages
    Latin I
    Latin II
    Classical Languages III
    Classical Languages IV (HON)
    Latin V (ADV)
  • Science

    Biology (HON)
    Chemistry (HON)
    Physics (HON)
    Environmental Science
    Chemistry (ADV)
    Biology (ADV)
    Physics II (ADV)

List of 4 items.

  • Academic Life at Williams

    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 Curriculum

    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 college program.
  • Graduation Requirements

    To receive a diploma from The Williams School, a student must have earned a minimum of twenty credits in the Upper School courses listed below. These are minimum requirements and do not include Co-curricular Credits; most students earn more than twenty credits.

    The minimum load for any academic year is five credits; should a student be enrolled in courses totaling exactly five credits, he/ she may take a maximum of two courses in the arts. All students, however, are expected to take as full a program as they can manage. A student is considered eligible for graduation when he or she has successfully fulfilled the Upper School minimum academic and athletic requirements, and has maintained a C-minus or better average during the senior year. A failing grade in a course in the second semester of the senior year will prevent a senior from graduating.
    The schedule of classes varies according to a seven-day rotation of the timetable. Unless otherwise indicated, classes meet for the full year and are worth one credit.

    Minimum requirements in each discipline are as follows:

    English 4 credits
    one course each year

    Mathematics 3 credits
    study of math through 11th grade including a full credit Precalculus course or four years of math in the Upper School

    Foreign Language(s) 3 credits
    • successfully completing 3 consecutive years of a modern or classical language (and a one year exposure of the alternate);
    • Latin I for all students who enter Williams through the 10th grade year; Latin 7 & Latin 8 in the Middle School
    • French I or Spanish I—either Spanish 7 & 8 in the Middle School or French I or Spanish I in Grade 8 or the Upper School;
    • the completion of Latin I should take place as early as possible in the student’s career at Williams.
    Laboratory Science 2 credits
    two courses, including one biological and one physical science; all graduating seniors must have completed at least one year of science at The Williams School.

    History 2 credits
    Modern World in 10th grade and US History in 11th are required

    Fine Arts 1 credit

    Co-Curricular Credits* 2 credits/year
    (completed in the Upper School)

    Involvement Requirements: Each year Upper School students will be required to earn two Co-curricular Credits (Middle School students are responsible only to earn one). While these are often achieved through participation in athletics teams (one Co-curricular Credit per season), they also can be received for participation in school activities such as the Fall Play, Spring Musical (including Pit Band), a Williams dance class, and Compchorea (with prior approval from the Athletics and Arts Departments). Only one Co-curricular Credit per year may be earned through the Fitness Center or independent athletics outside of Williams.
  • Independent Study

    Students may embark on independent studies for academic credit when time, circumstance, and student and teacher workloads provide for them. There is no guarantee that a course or project will be approved simply because a student wishes to take one. The process for approval of independent studies should be completed in the spring semester prior to the intended year of study.

    The interested student or teacher should refer requests for independent study to the relevant Department Chair. If the request passes this initial stage, it will be referred 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 to the Department Heads by April of the year preceding the intended study. 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 may 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.