We believe that the story of our school is really the story of our students.
It’s the story of “Littles” high-fiving “Bigs” in the hallway.
It’s the story of students becoming fearless learners.
It’s the story of students embracing strangers because of their differences and not in spite of them.
Entrepreneurs, teachers, astronauts, healers, poets, warriors, and innovators, the stories of our students and alumni are as unique and as remarkable as the people who inspired them.
And it all begins here.
Please take a few minutes to read some of our stories.
The claw-footed tub is hard to miss when you walk through the door. This morning, a boy and girl are sitting in it, blissfully reading books. The young mother is staring at them when she hears children’s loud laughter on the floor above. It echoes down a big wooden staircase, mixing with melodies from a music class somewhere nearby. For the first time since she started this endless school search, her heart skips a beat. Hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Williams feels different. There is magic in the air.
She is new to Williams’ faculty. From dynamic classrooms, to student-managed oyster beds in the Bay, to adopting a city as its campus, she never imagined a school could be SO invested in cultivating agency, creativity, self-discovery, independence, and critical thinking. Balancing one-on-one guidance with self-directed learning, students are free to explore the possibilities of their extraordinary potential. It is a culture as innovative as it is high-achieving. A forward-thinker throughout her career, the new teacher is more than happy. Finally, she’s home.
He beams when “Bigs” high-five him in the hallways. He loves when the librarian spies the book he’s been reading and recommends a new author he might enjoy. He soars when his teacher walks his whole class over to The Chrysler Museum because a student asks a question about modern art. Small isn’t less at Williams. Here, small is MORE – more relationships, more learning, more experiences. It is a distinction that means everything.
Her favorite part of Williams is trying EVERYTHING. She discovers she was born to play volleyball, and while violin is cool, she’ll leave it to her BFF. She digs deep into Egyptian civilization (unreal, Ms. L!), falls très dur for French (merci, Madame P.), competes in the annual Forensics tournament (we won – again!), and mentors a “Little” who reminds her of herself. Sometimes the girl succeeds, and sometimes not, but she adapts her mindset. While she doesn’t realize it, she is becoming a fearless learner. Thanks to her school and its amazing teachers, she always will be.
The two moms are surprised. Sitting with their son’s teacher at the parent conference, the man’s understanding of their boy deeply moves the women. While a clear expert in Education, he is also an expert in him. The teacher knows Bobby in all his glorious Bobby-ness, from his brilliant math brain, to his obsession with the Navy, to his quirky sense of humor. The trust he is developing with their son is liberating the child to BE HIMSELF, no matter the peer pressure or societal expectations. It is an incredible gift and it will change his life.
She fiercely advocates her point of view. She asks the right questions. She’s honest, even when no one’s watching. She controls technology, and not the other way around. She builds relationships. She laughs at herself. She wants to help. She embraces strangers BECAUSE of their differences and not in spite of them. She listens carefully. She’s not perfect, and she’s kind’ve okay with that. Challenged at Williams every day, in every way, the girl is transforming into a remarkable student and an even more remarkable human being.
Sitting at graduation, the 8th Grader looks around at his friends. Each unique in their own way, they come from all over – Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Suffolk – and most will go to different high schools. He makes eye contact with a few. They exchange smiles. He looks at his teachers, and he feels a lump in his throat. They shaped a once-shy boy into a confident young man. He loves them. As memories run through his mind, he realizes he will never really leave Williams. It will stay in his heart forever. The best things always do.
We shine at the best high schools, recognized for our free thinking and open-hearted humanity. We lead in college, pursuing bold and boundless dreams. One day, we will redirect Norfolk’s rising tides. We will teach schoolchildren to reach for the stars. We will inspire fellow citizens to embrace their better angels. Entrepreneurs, teachers, astronauts, healers, poets, warriors, and innovators, when and where we are needed most, we can, and We Will. We are Williams.