This week, the Advertiser-Gleam profiles Jennifer Williams, a first generation college graduate in her family who now serves as the chief academic officer in the Schools of
Q: When and where were you born?
A: December 21, 1979, in Decatur, Georgia. My parents are originally from Alabama and they moved back to Alabama when I was 4 years old.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: Geraldine High School: Kindergarten through twelfth grade (1998 graduate). I am a first generation college graduate. I received my bachelor's degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State University in 2001, my master's degree in English as a second language from University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2005 then returned to Jacksonville State to obtain an educational specialist degree in educational leadership.
Q: Where all have you lived?
A: I haven’t lived in many places. Georgia the first few years of my life, and then I was raised in the Whiton community. My husband and I lived in Crossville the first few years of our marriage before building a home and settling in the Painter community.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job.
A: I am currently the Chief Academic Officer for Guntersville City Schools. In my role I coordinate the identification, development, implementation, evaluation, review and revision of all instructional programs in all schools K-12, serve as Federal Programs Director, manage grant application processes, monitor compliance with policies and laws concerning school improvement and state monitoring, and serve as director of the Guntersville Pre K Academy.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: In high school I initially wanted to become a nurse. During my senior year, I was asked by one of my teachers to tutor a middle school student who had enrolled who spoke very little English. Apparently, my Spanish teacher had recommended me since I had been a good student in her class. I soon realized that teaching children was my calling. I had also been teaching Sunday School and vacation Bible school at my church for a few years. All those experiences just affirmed that I was to become a teacher. Becoming a school administrator was never really in my career plan at first. When I became a teacher, I thought I would teach my entire career. However, I was blessed with opportunities and people in my life that encouraged me to pursue this path and I am so grateful.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: At this point in my career instead of teaching children, I now support teachers and principals. What I most love is when I get to support teachers to make their jobs easier. Teachers do the real work. I am a firm believer in servant leadership. It is my job to ensure they have the tools, resources, and training they need to produce students fully prepared for the future of their choosing whether that is college, career, or workforce. We have been granted an opportunity to lead and shape the future of our own communities and that is most rewarding.
Q: What was your first job?
A: This question is funny to me. My first job was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Albertville. On a whim one day I decided I wanted a job for some extra spending money. KFC was the first place I walked in and applied, and I was hired right on the spot. I started out working the drive through and in a few months was promoted to shift supervisor at 16 years old. I worked there my sophomore and junior year of high school before taking a job at Rack Room Shoes in the Boaz Outlets.
My first job in my current profession was teaching ESL at Crossville High School in 2002 and then later first grade. I later became a language acquisition coach before becoming the Director of Federal Programs and Assistant Superintendent in DeKalb County. I was blessed to come to Guntersville in 2021.
Q: What is your spouse’s name? What does he do for a living?
A: Stanley Williams. He is a teacher and assistant basketball coach at Plainview High School. During his career he has been a Special Education teacher, intervention teacher, and PE teacher. This is his 26th year to teach and coach.
Q: Do you have any children?
A: Yes, I have two teenage sons. Jonah (18) who is a senior this year at Plainview High School and Jay (15) who is a freshman at Plainview High School.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: I don’t know about what meal (maybe crab) but anyone who knows me knows it will include a Coke Zero.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I cannot narrow it down to one place. There are so many places I hope to travel to one day. I love anywhere with water (beaches, lakes, rivers, etc) but I also hope to travel internationally to Italy and England one day.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I have two teenagers who are involved in sports and a husband who coaches so spare time is rare. However, I do enjoy reading and kayaking.
Q: What do you enjoy about living and working in Guntersville and Marshall County?
A: I have always loved the Guntersville area. As a kid, I spent weekends and summers on the lake with my family. We spent lots of days and nights camping, fishing, and tubing with extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.) It is a beautiful place and working here is a breath of fresh air. I also get to work with some amazing people and students every day.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: My dad passed away in December of 2020 with Covid. I would love one more opportunity to sit and talk with him over lunch or sit on his porch swing and chat about my sons and life.
Q: Would you rather read a good book or watch a good movie and why?
A: A good book. I can get lost in a good book for hours. Books let you travel anywhere in the world and to any time period without ever leaving home.