Spirit, spunk and a nudge toward the gap year

Leila Miller, Outside News Editor

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Known for hosting Friday night onegs for her classes, shopping with students online and infectious energy when advising SAC events, Student Activities Director and Israel Guidance Counselor Natalie Williams — called “Natalie” by most students — will be leaving for to start a similar position at Maimonides Academy next fall.

“I never had Natalie as a teacher but I had a really close connection with her and used to hug her every morning,” junior Raquel Garshofsky said. “We were on SAC together and she showed us how we can work but still be relaxed.”

Natalie, who came to Shalhevet in 2008 after teaching at Hillel Hebrew Academy for a few years, taught 9th, 10th and 12th grade Tanach and also led an advisory. Students could regularly be seen relaxing on the couch in her office and came to her for advice on Israel gap year programs.

“Her office was a very cozy place to hang out in,” said ’10 alumna Emma Lipner, now a student at Barnard following her Kivunim gap year program. “I definitely think that Natalie did a great job encouraging people to go to Israel. I know that she gave a lot of guidance and helped people find their path, whether it be at a seminary or on a program.”

With an everpresent smile and caring personality that allowed her to interrupt classes to make announcements and convince students to attend events, Natalie often asked students she was substituting what school-spirit activities they’d be interested in — always eager for feedback. This year she helped plan many events including a Thanksgiving lunch and a Jeopardy game for Chanukah, where teams of students raced to answer sports, Judaica and Harry Potter trivia.

“I worked with her in and out of school and found her very fun to be with, but also someone that is eager to get stuff done,” said junior Yonah Nimmer, who will be co-chair of SAC next year with Raquel Garshofsky. “I even went to her house after school for two or three hours once to finish up the Jeopardy game before the assembly the next day.”

Natalie was vital in planning Project Frumaway, an event in 2009 whose proceeds went to fighting breast cancer. She helped Emma Lipner design a dress, and split a pack of shirts shopping online once with Raquel, who looks forward to meeting up with her in the future for Torah and Toppings.

“I think she’s an amazing role model to every girl in high school and I’m so lucky to have her be a part of my life,” sophomore Ariana Feder said.

While she may be leaving for Maimonides, which is only a mile from Shalhevet, Natalie says she wants to keep in contact with students at Shalhevet.

“I will miss the warm and positive environment that surrounds all of us here,” she said. “I have a great relationship with all the students and expect to stay in touch through phone and email, having kids over.”

 

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