Clarksdale Municipal School District superintendent Dr. Earl Joe Nelson and director of career and technical education Shirlaurence Fair had a surprise for Eva Williams the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Williams, a teacher academy instructor, was named the Carl Keen Career Tech Education Center teacher of the year. Nelson and Fair walked into Williams’ CTE classroom to surprise her with the award.
Williams, a 21-year teacher, spent much of her time in North Carolina, but it is her first year teaching in the CMSD’s CTE program. She moved back to Clarksdale to take care of her father and stayed after he died.
“I didn’t want to leave, so I just decided to stay here and give my service to the Clarksdale Municipal high school,” Williams said.
“I’m really enjoying the district. It feels like home. It’s like I never missed a beat.”
The feeling amongst district leaders has been mutual and Williams appreciated her award.
“I am lost for words right now, but I am thankful for being nominated teacher of the year,” Williams said. “The work is hard, but you know, it’s good. Without all of us together, it wouldn’t happen.
“What I really enjoy about the job is the interaction with the students growing up the next generation of teachers. Because there is such a shortage of teachers and just having that passion and vision to inspire young educators – I’m lost for words because I’m so overwhelmed right now. This is a shock to me, but I am so honored to be in the Mississippi Delta here in Clarksdale.”
Nelson stressed the importance of having a teacher academy in the CMSD.
“I’d just like to say congratulations to Ms. Williams,” Nelson said. “I think teacher academy is one of the top programs right here in the state because there’s a shortage of teachers. She’s educating and empowering the future of teachers in Clarksdale. We really put stock in this program because we really want to have those teachers go through this academy, go on through college and come back here and teach one day.”
Fair praised Williams’ efforts.
“She’s training our next generation of educators,” Fair said. “She exemplified excellence in every way here. She submits everything on time. She’s a lifelong learner. She encourages her students to learn. She pushes them. They all comment and say she’s like a college class versus a high school class because she’s an advocate for education.”
Fair said Williams is an active member of the Mississippi Association of Education and serves as a regional organizer.
“She was a powerhouse in North Carolina,” Fair said. “She’s instilling that in our future educators here.”
Fair said Williams is enrolled in a Ph.D. program, is juggling virtual and hybrid learning.
“We just want to show her how much we care,” Fair said.
Fair also said Williams is a supplemental educational services educator and it was SES appreciation day Feb. 10.
“We celebrate all of our educators here at the Clarksdale Municipal School District,” Fair said. “They are frontline and No. 1.”
Fair said the CTE program will continue to grow and manufacturing and welding classes may be added.
“We would like to just encourage the business community, just community leaders, retirees to just get on board and work with us as we grow our emerging workforce here at Carl Keen CTE,” Fair said.
More information on the CTE program can be found at facebook.com/CKCTE-Wildcats and www.cmsdschools.org/cte.