Jayuntay Williams, a math teacher at West Ashley Advanced Studies Magnet, was named Teacher of the Year at his school and now joins four others in the competition to be Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) 2019 Teacher of the Year.
Williams credits his third-grade teacher for influencing him with her passion for education. It shaped the direction his career would eventually take. Williams was driven as a young boy to work hard, and that hard work paid off. He was the Valedictorian of his high school class in Denmark, S.C. He credits that to the support and motivation that came from his parents.
“Greatness is an obligation, not an option,” said Williams. “I live by that every day and spread that to my students. I am teaching more than math. I’m trying to get them to see the connection between hard work and having a passion and a vision that can be followed through.”
Also, Williams’ participation in the Call Me Mister program is what he said was most influential in him finishing his undergraduate work in education. Call Me M.I.S.T.E.R. (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) is an initiative to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader and more diverse background, particularly among the state’s lowest performing elementary schools.
Through the program at Claflin University, he participated in teacher education undergraduate programs that lead to teaching licensure and job placement. That’s where he learned how to get his students revved up to learn.
Becoming a Top Five Finalist Williams’ style of teaching is unique. He finds extra resources for learning and is motivated to keep everything fresh and relevant. “I allow students to redo assignments and give them a deadline of more than just one day,” said Williams. “I also offer additional help as needed because I want them to be as successful as they want to be.”
Williams acknowledges the need to attract more male teachers to the profession. “Male educators do seem to have great relationships with their students and those relationships span the subject they teach to life experiences,” said Williams.
He has taught varying groups of students at both traditional and magnet schools. “It’s always a different and challenging experience to change course but great at the same time,” Williams said. ”Through the years I’ve learned more instructional strategies, and I’m continuously making sure I am keeping up with best practices.”
Williams and his team at West Ashley ASM take learning outside of the classroom by providing field trips and extra opportunities to learn. “Every year we go in fresh by starting over and focusing on what’s best for our students,” explained Williams. “I am here for a purpose, and if we can all strive to be better in some way, work as a team, and be respectful, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.”
Williams’ passion is math, and he enjoys the opportunity to be the Math Department Chair where he can model instructional strategies for his fellow teachers and be a support system for staff. “I want to help my team members as much as I can while still being a great teacher,” Williams said. “The opportunity to serve is appreciated and a wonderful learning experience as well.”
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.