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Melissa Williams wants her students to know: yes, they can

Published on Friday, March 26, 2021

melissa williams

Although a career in marketing and public relations took her all over the country – and, in some aspects, the world – Melissa Williams still felt like something was missing.

While working in her first career, she volunteered as a tutor and worked in schools, which allowed her to see something in herself that others had already pointed out to her as they watched her work with students: she needed to be a teacher.

Williams is now a fifth-grade teacher at St. Stephen Elementary, where she has taught for 11 years. She is her school’s Teacher of the Year, and one of eight semifinalists for Berkeley County School District’s Teacher of the Year.

Williams said something that influenced her to switch careers was not being inspired by a favorite teacher, but by being motivated by a teacher who told her she could not succeed at anything.

“I wanted to be the teacher that let my students know they could,” she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. “I wanted to change my students’ perspective on teaching and learning as they could do anything they wanted to do.”

Williams said when students realize how much they are a huge part of her classroom, it allows them to feel accepted and loved.

She is passionate about the Leader In Me program and serves on the BCSD Leader In Me team and her school’s Lighthouse Team. She is also part of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council. St. Stephen Elementary has been a LIM school for several years and Williams said she is proud to have been a part of the program’s development at the school.

Williams recently completed her work with the SC Department of Education on the document research team, working with teachers from across the state to create and test math tasks for teachers to incorporate in their classrooms.

She was BCSD’s first Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Williams stays busy within her community and has served on the Town of St. Stephen’s Economic Development Committee in recent years. She is an active member of the Berkeley County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., for which she serves as the assistant treasurer and chair of the Scholarship Committee.

The district Teacher of the Year is expected to be announced in May.