Maura Williams had been an employee of the Houston County school system for 17 years when she quit last summer.
But it wasn’t to transfer to another school system or to pursue another career field. Williams quit so she could do her student teaching.
After 17 years as an employee, a semester as a student teacher and the last seven years going to college, Maura Williams graduated with honors from Fort Valley State University in December.
She entered the school system as a cafeteria worker at Houston County High School, serving and preparing food for four years. She then worked as a para professional at Warner Robins High School for a special education class.
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Williams moved over to the office at Warner Robins High School, first as the attendance clerk and then as the secretary at the Rumble ninth grade academy. When Rumble closed, she transferred to Tabor, where she worked until her resignation this past summer.
It was while Maura Williams was at Rumble that I first crossed paths with her. After all, when you give birth to the slowest, most forgetful child in the world, you are going to need to know the school secretary.
But it wasn’t just me that formed a relationship with Maura Williams as I dropped off forgotten lunch money or math homework. Williams’ love for ninth graders at Warner Robins High School is a constant theme among the parents I know.
She cared about our kids during the day in the same way we did. She wiped their tears, patched their wounds, laughed at their jokes, forgave their forgetfulness and scolded them if they needed it.
Basically, she loved them and they all knew it.
Brett Wallace, who oversaw the Rumble Academy, is now the principal at Warner Robins Middle School, where Williams did her student teaching this fall.
“I finished my associate (degree) in 2004 and took a couple of years off, so it was in 2007 that I started my bachelor’s,” Williams said. “I went on and off until I met Mr. Wallace, who told me there was no more stopping. He has been a great inspiration to me and my children.”
Her husband Randy and her children -- Randy, Jamaura and Brandon -- were on hand when she walked across the stage. They are very proud of their mother, as are all of her other children -- the hundreds of students that she has interacted with and loved at the schools where she has worked the past 17 years.
“I always wanted to be a teacher. I have a love for people, for children. Whatever they needed me to be at the time -- their mama, their grandmama, their aunt -- that’s what I would try to be.”
Now certified in language arts for fourth through eighth grades, Williams has applied to return to work with the Houston County school system -- as a teacher. It was a great personal satisfaction to press the button that uploaded her certification.
“It wasn’t easy,” Williams said. “But I made it.”
Alline Kent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 396-2467.