Margo Fitzgerald, winner Cecily Williams,shown with her family, daughter Lauren, husband Rodney and son, Patrick, and Dr. Rodney Fittzgerald.
The recipient of the 2018 Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award is Cecily Williams, 6th grade teacher at Cleveland Middle School
“If children can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” This quote epitomizes the teaching philosophy of Cecily Williams. Her teaching philosophy over the past 20 years has changed from standards centered to student focused. The commitment to the student is evident in all she does.
Cecily believes that all students are capable of learning and tells her students that “we are in this together for YOUR success.” She adds, “I do (everything) for the kids who show up in my classroom each day. If I can help them gain confidence in themselves (while learning) and…discover who they are and what their role in life may be, my mission is accomplished.”
Cecily makes home visits to about 50% of her students’ homes to show that she respects not only the student but the parents. She sends progress updates to parents weekly and at the end of each school year hosts, with her teammate, a Parent Appreciation Brunch thanking them for their support throughout the year.
Students describe Ms. Williams as “funny, nerdy, nice, bright.” An academically and behaviorally challenged student said, “What Mrs. Williams does for us is un-describable! She says we’re her kids when we are at school and she takes care of us like we ARE her kids.”
Outside of the classroom, Cecily willingly takes leadership roles. Her achievements and recognitions are many: City School Teacher of the Year; Southeast Region Teacher of the Year; State finalist for Teacher of the Year. She has served as CCS Lead Teacher for Math 6 – 8 for 3 years and been on the Leadership Team at CMS for 10 years.
Her expertise and passion for education has been shared nation-wide. She has presented at Middle Level Educators National and State Conferences, and IDEA Conference and to educators and students at Lee University, Cleveland State Community College and Rhea County Schools.
Ms. Williams in every way reflects the values, the passion for education and the expertise of Lillie F. Fitzgerald and is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award. Accompanying this honor is a $3,000 personal award and a $2,000 classroom award.
Cecily Wiliams and Loes Riggins, 6 Yellow Teaching Partners