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Teacher Spotlight: Nicole "Nikki" Short Williams

8/19/2014, 1:14 p.m.
Nicole Short Williams, also known as Nikki, is a Richmond native educated in the Henrico County Public School system.
Nicole Short Williams teaches at Varina High School in Henrico County.

Nicole Short Williams, also known as Nikki, is a Richmond native educated in the Henrico County Public School system.

As a youth, she participated in many extracurricular activities including pageants, conferences, martial arts, ballet/tap/jazz training, baton twirling as a majorette, singing in various choral ensembles, and volunteering in many civic organizations. Such cultural experiences afforded Nicole great networking opportunities with like-minded peers and adults.

Williams has a passion for teaching. Her parents recount how sternly she’d instruct her dolls to pay attention and learn their ABCs. As a teen Williams was hired in her first unofficial teaching position as a summer camp counselor with students ages 12 and up. That summer tested Williams’s ability as an educator but left her passion intact. She learned that to effectively reach students, she must use her confidence, personality, and knowledge to promote mutual respect, build relationships, accountability, and consistency. These same principles guide her in her interactions today.

Williams dreams to own a chain of prekindergarten, college preparatory schools for underrepresented students. She pushes the envelope in teaching... incorporating tough love into life lessons, which she believes is essential to the development of young minds into productive citizens. She believes that this demographic struggles to find the connection between school curriculum and life application because oftentimes, it doesn't relate to them. It is her goal to reach and teach students early enough to spark their interest in learning and train the family for a positive, lifelong experience in education.

“Every difficult conversation, every interesting moment, every good and bad day I've ever had has prepared me for the various and random needs of my students,” Williams shares. “Teaching means I have the ability to use my experiences to motivate, inspire, and reach a young mind wherever they are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.”

The reward, Williams says, is in their understanding of life concepts.

“Each day, I challenge my students to dream big, plan for their dreams, and accomplish their goals,” Williams said. “They reward me through understanding and applying the life lessons I've taught. Every time we reach a breakthrough moment, a major concept is reached, a grade is pulled up, or one of my babies say, ‘I love you too, Mrs. Williams’ in response to my daily end-of-class salutation, I am greatly rewarded!”

Williams maintains that in order “to be a great teacher - to be an outstanding teacher- one that wins accolades and awards, one that inspires and motivates, educates and nurtures” that teacher has to love their profession.

“You must be passionate about molding the next brilliant adult in every kid you meet,” she said.

Williams continues, “We had role models. The world I was raised in had adults who recognized their responsibility to younger generations and chose to be productive citizens in the observing kids’ eyes. Today’s generation is surrounded by unreal “reality” television and other insensitive adult programming that projects negative, injurious images of society. Parents of this society don’t censor these images, allowing the television to teach all kinds of subconscious behaviors to our children - until one day, they become adults with the wrong guidance, unable to professionally function in society.”

As a high school teacher Williams believes she has the power to be one of the strongest and most lasting influences of a student’s life.

“I fully acknowledge myself as a role model and appreciate the massive responsibility,” she said. “Because my students know I love and understand them, they talk with me about important issues. Our relationship is critical, because in trusting an adult to be a mentor, or a role model, youth is ultimately surrendering ideas to the admired characteristics and advice of the trusting adult. By forging these bonds, I can tackle the direction of our society one student at a time.”

Williams, 31, is the wife to Darryl Williams and mother of two sons - Dakarai, age 10, and Naasir, age 8.

During her time away from work, Williams works with her children’s little league endeavors, serves in a support role on the Harvie Elementary PTA board, sponsors Varina High School’s chapter of the national Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization, sings with the music ministry at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church (also directs the children’s choir), participates in social events and festivals, and loves to spend time with friends and family.