Rebekah Williams

Fourth Grade Teacher, Hickory Hills Elementary School

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About Me

I am a wife, mother, and teacher. This summer marked my 15th wedding anniversary with my superhero husband, Nathan. I have two extraordinarily fabulous children, Ian and Lilly, ages 11 and 9.

I am currently earning my Masters of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL) through a cohort with fellow Springfield Public Schools teachers.

After graduating with a B.S. in Education from Missouri State University (then SMSU) in 1998, I began teaching at Wilder Elementary School, where I had completed my student teaching. While there, I taught first grade for one year and second grade for three years.

Wilder is still very near and dear to my heart. The year I was married, my second graders participated in my ceremony, walking down the aisle ringing bells just before my entrance. It is a sweet memory.

After four years of teaching, I left the district and worked with a much older group of students at the university level. As a Director for Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE--now Enactus), I traveled across the country visiting foundations to secure grants for the organization.

Then I became a mother, and had the amazing opportunity to stay home with my children during their first few years.

In 2011, I returned to the Springfield Public Schools R-12 district as a para in the ESOL classroom at Hickory Hills. The next year, I applied for the fourth grade classroom teacher position in the building, and got it! I have served joyfully in that capacity for five years.

I am one of those very blessed individuals who loves what I do, loves going to work each day, and loves the people (especially my little people) I am surrounded with each day. Life is good!

Philosophy of Education

Be kind.

Establish classroom community, first and foremost, and the learning will blossom! I teach kindness from day one. We are bucket-fillers, not bucket-dippers! When students recognize this climate in their classroom, they are free to take risks and, in doing so, they grow leaps and bounds academically and socially. One of the best ways I accomplish this is by publicly praising the students in my classroom who are low on the social totem pole; students who might sometimes be targeted by bullies. If I elevate those students to rock-star status, I eliminate many issues before they even become a problem. Students must feel safe, secure, and supported in order to succeed.
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Be the example.

I smile. A LOT. Some days, I just don't feel like it. But, a smile really is contagious, and that's not just a cliche. When I feel down, I am honest about it, and we often do something silly to pick ourselves up and get laughing again. I frequently say, "Who wants to spend all day with someone who doesn't smile or laugh?!" I try to treat everyone in my classroom with respect. Of course I fail at times, but it is always a goal at the forefront of my day. Am I treating my students the way I want to be treated? Am I setting an example for them to aspire to? Am I remembering they are people, too? Being an example of positivity is an important step to students creating their own paths to success.
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Be their biggest cheerleader.

Finding ways to celebrate my students' successes is, well, just downright fun for me. Who wants to work for something when no one notices? Certainly not me, and not them, either! When I cheer my students on; when I find those "WOW" gems in their everyday work; when I'm not a "gotcha!" teacher--looking for their missteps; they SOAR! They go above and beyond! They trip over one another to do more and achieve! It works!

Be relevant.

Hickory Hills was a first year IGNiTE school, and what a ride it has been! As a result of this tremendous access to technology, my teaching has transformed more in these two years than my other 8 years combined! Recognizing my students must stay current on the latest technology, I have incorporated a wide-range of digital tools to enhance learning in my classroom. Curriculum content taught in my classroom for many years reached next-level status as students used Canvas, Google Slides, Docs, Smore, Symbaloo, online research, and more to raise the bar in every way. I am proud of how they jumped in with both feet and carried me with them. It has been an exciting step forward in the future of education and my future as an educator.
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Be flexible.

Life in the classroom is anything but stagnant. Teachers must regularly assess formal and informal data and teach accordingly based on need. I want students to know they are never "stuck" in one place. We are constantly moving--together!
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Thank you!

I was honored to be considered for Teacher of the Year. Thank you for your time.

Rebekah Williams

Fourth Grade, Hickory Hills Elementary