Jennifer Williams turns her sixth graders into passionate, excited readers. Her classroom at John Q. Adams Middle School in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish features flexible work stations: exercise balls near the computer writing research center, a large carpet where students spread out their materials and work on assignments, and a corner with easy chairs and coffee tables where students collaborate and discuss books and writing projects. On “Flashlight Fridays,” the class reads and works together by flashlight, enjoying the change in atmosphere. Schoolwide data shows writing as a target growth area, so Williams reverse-engineers quizzes and assessments to make sure each one has a writing component. Her classes engage in student-led conferences throughout the writing process, starting with conversation stems and a rubric to guide their discussions. Williams’ students function at a high level and feel safe taking academic risks in the family-like atmosphere she creates.
Knowledgeable, creative, strategic and driven, Williams serves as a resource for her colleagues. She is an active leader in weekly cluster meetings, the first to volunteer to model something new and help others with planning, data analysis and preparation. Williams has served as sixth grade team leader and on the school improvement team. She sat on Jefferson Parish’s Teacher Voice Advisory Council and has presented at the Teacher Leader Summit and Louisiana Middle School Association conference. Future educators, including some who now teach alongside her at Adams, appreciate her guidance as a mentor during their student teaching.
Williams goes to great lengths to increase student engagement and build relationships with even the most challenging students. She teaches sixth grade honors, regular and inclusion ELA classes, but students flock to her as a trusted advisor throughout their middle school years. To keep students focused and striving as they prepare for LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) exams, Williams leads “Test Fest,” the school’s biggest event of the year. The magical experience includes a DJ, photo and dunking booths, water balloons, face and nail painting, basketball tournaments, soccer, Frisbee, snacks, arts and crafts, and more. Students earn the right to attend with a positive attitude, commitment to excellence and exemplary behavior during testing. It’s an unforgettable celebration for the whole school.
Williams earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2005 from the University of New Orleans.
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