Williams grows with his students
by Mark Andrews
Dec 15, 2012 | 2032 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Matt Williams, Bartow Teacher of The Year, engages his students in a discussion about the ecosystems. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Matt Williams, Bartow Teacher of The Year, engages his students in a discussion about the ecosystems. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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For Bartow County Teacher of the Year Matt Williams, meeting the needs of his students while also meeting the standards for the state is not simply a job, but an ongoing process he says fills his life. However, the Cloverleaf Elementary School fourth-grade teacher didn’t always see himself in the classroom.

“I started off wanting to be a journalist, then when I got through high school I decided I wanted to be a psychologist and became a psychology major [in college], but decided that was insane,” Williams laughed. “I started working with children at a daycare in Rome and that’s when I decided to go to school for [elementary education].”

Beginning his career about six years ago at CES, Williams said he appreciates seeing students take an active role in their education.

“[I appreciate] seeing the growth. You have a student who couldn’t read is reading on, or near, grade level, a student who didn’t understand a concept at the beginning of the year [now understands], and just seeing kids enjoy learning and going home and telling their parents about it or coming back to school and giving more information about a subject I taught, that is rewarding ... and it always makes it worth it to me,” Williams said.

Although Williams’ students are young, he said attitudes toward school are evident by fourth grade.

“A lot of the kids at this age have decided if they’re going to try and be successful in school,” Williams said. They have a lot of behaviors they have picked up and I have to work with those behaviors and let them know they can learn, that this is something you can do and it will be important to you later on down the road.

“... If you can try and make [the material] matter, the kids will actually want to do it. ... As the years go on I have learned what works, what doesn’t — as far as behavior management — and how to cover specific topics, what kind of lesson plans work to reach certain types of learners, but it takes a while to get used to it.”

This fall semester was a change for Williams, as well as CES students, as they now are under the roof of a new school.

“The new environment is great, the technology is outstanding, and all the children in third, fourth and fifth grade have access to laptops ... we have Promethean boards, we have access to a lot of things we didn’t have last year,” Williams said. “I’ve really had to change my teaching style this year because of the technology.

“I’ve adapted a lot quicker to the technology because I grew up with it ... but it has been a big step.”

When he’s not teaching and meeting other responsibilities required by the school, Williams said he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, two dogs and his cat. He said he appreciates having the opportunity to work for Bartow County schools

“The school system is fantastic and I’m honored to be the Teacher of the Year for Bartow County,” Williams said.