Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

May 20, 2014

Williams says teaching takes real conviction

TAHLEQUAH — Heritage Elementary School Teacher of the Year Sarah Williams firmly believes that, no matter what your profession, at some point or another, a teacher has helped inspire or encourage you.

“There is no way around us,” said Williams, a media science teacher. “My parents are both educators. I watched them make sacrifices and put others before themselves all my life. They did it quietly, the way most teachers do. I felt like if I could live my life with that kind of conviction and love, then it would be a life I would be proud of.”

Williams taught at Cherokee Elementary for eight years, and has spent the past two at Heritage. She’s taught second grade, pre-kindergarten and library media.

“I love the kids,” said Williams. “Kids are the most honest and loving people there are. They each have so much potential.”

She became a teacher to make a difference.

“My favorite quote is, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’” she said. “I wanted my occupation to help with that positive change.”

She thoroughly enjoys her co-workers, too.

“The teachers and staff I work with are so supportive. I know I could ask any one of them for help and they would gladly give it,” she said. “We also have some great parents, and best of all, the kids.”

When Williams learned she was named Teacher of the Year, she felt tremendously honored.

“It means so much more than even the title, because I know what type of teachers I work with. To me, each one of them is a Teacher of the Year,” she said.

The winner was announced over the intercom, but Williams didn’t hear it.

“I had kids congratulating me and I didn’t know why. Then, at a morning assembly, one of the first-grade classes announced it in front of the entire school. They created the sweetest poem about me and sang a song. They had flowers, a sash, and a crown,” Williams said.

It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for her.

“I cried like the baby I am, but I think half the school did, too,” she said.

Her advice to new teachers is to persevere.

“It will be hard,” said Williams. “There is no doubt about that, but the rewards are worth it. Find an experienced teacher and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

She recommends finding the best in each child, parent, and colleague a teacher works with.

“And never, never pray for patience,” she said. “If you pray – and teaching might make you start! – pray for love for each child instead. It will make your life easier.”

She encourages parents to read to their children and to help develop their strengths, no matter what they are.

“You are their first teacher and biggest fan in life,” said Williams.

When school lets out for summer vacation, Williams will spend time with family.

“My husband, James, and children Isaac and Ivey, are all home with me. We love swimming, kayaking and reading,” she said.

Last year, they created a summer bucket list that included all kinds of activities.

“I will probably do that again, as well,” Williams said.

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