Tenure: 17 years
Positions Held at GA:
The Distinguished Achievement Award, 2013
Why I Stayed:
Honestly, there is no other educational institution more preferable to me than GA! I did teach at three other schools, but GA's opportunities for educators are second to none! The facilities, small class size, the innumerable tools and materials, and professional development opportunities at either no cost or very little cost are truly amazing gifts. Last, but certainly not least, the invaluable investment, which is paying off in dividends too numerous to mention, regarding our three children and their lives as adults which are impacting this generation and their individual concentric circles largely because of GA!
The students...the many students I have met, helped to nourish academically, emotionally, and even spiritually at times...serve as the very best memories, which will remain in my heart forever. After I was asked to take on the responsibility as a lead teacher in fourth grade, I was quite intimated by the excellent education I knew my children were receiving. Could I measure up against the many gifted and talented academicians I greatly admired as a parent who used to sit on the sidelines watching her children grow academically? My faith emphatically yet humbly told me...of course you can! Use the gifts you were given to the best of your ability and trust the process, which will include times when you will feel inadequate! However, those moments would not reflect a flaw with my ability, but rather a need for me to continue to embrace my faith as a capable woman, wife, mother, and teacher. I had to cultivate a positive mindset that would glorify God, positively impact students placed in my classroom, and make my family proud of whom God made me to be.
I am thankful for:
My God Who created and cultivated my personal Jeremiah 29:11 journey ("I know the plans I have for you...to give you a future and a hope) that included Germantown Academy! Obviously, GA was to play a very important part in my personal path as an educator and not just serve as the institution the Lord directly used in order to provide my three children with the best education EVER!
Gifts to the Community:
- A master teacher with an innate gift for genuinely connecting with every child, every single child, within her sphere, knowing intuitively what each child needs to grow as a student and as a person, and, miraculously, meeting that need...every time.
- A sense of humor designed to reach children and colleagues, open them with a smile, and teach through laughter.
- A fourth grade literacy curriculum fueled by a passion to teach children to read and write skillfully and confidently.
- A growth mindset, long before the term was coined, that believes in her own ability to develop and change as well as her students.
- An exemplary and unwavering work ethic.
- Extraordinary determination and a strong sense of self, allowing her to enter this community wholeheartedly.
- A beautiful example of a woman living out her professional calling guided by the spirit and her faith.
What Rich Schellhas Will Remember Most about Connie:
Connie personifies our greatest vision of what a passionate, compassionate, loving, engaged teacher might be. You know just by meeting her that she cares deeply about each of her students, each of her lessons, and each of her colleagues. What you might not know, however, is the dramatic actress Connie transforms into when she makes the classroom her stage. Honestly every moment feels Tony Award winning in its energy, conviction, and complete commitment to the role and the audience – in this case her beloved students. Her teaching mesmerizes me, and the very idea of seeing her final bow in the classroom this June saddens me to the core. GA is, without a doubt, a better school for the blazing talent, inspiring dedication, and good old-fashioned hard work of Connie Williams.
I used to joke with my colleagues about those precious children who needed a little extra attention by saying, "I'm gonna take them to the back alley and...PRAY FOR THEM! (Ask Sherri Chadwin!) Humor played a large part with my interaction with the children. I am known for saying in the classroom, "Students, you don't know their stories so be careful!" or...when they did not know how to answer or react to a truthful statement, I would say, "And the church got quiet!" I know I have others but...cannot recall them.
Next Page of Life:
Find rest...spiritual rest! Many opportunities to serve the Lord in a deeper more expansive way were put on hold, so to speak. He told me to do what he planned for me at GA and to not look at this time as if it weren't a part of His plan. GA has taught me so much about community service. I would like to be able to use my gifts and talents to serve my community and others with my time and look forward to being able to come home after my time of service and breathe!
I look forward to traveling with Keith for the purpose of ministry. I have spoken at several seminars and conferences. Perhaps this will reignite! Being able to travel to Texas to spend time with my oldest and his new wife (and prayerfully children to come) as well as with my youngest, who also lives now in Texas. Spending more quality time with my daughter Courtney and my heart, Laila Amari, my seven year-old granddaughter is high on my to do list. I look forward to spending more time with my currently 95-year-old father who is healthy. Despite his good health, I do not know how many more years I have with Daddy who continues to live alone, in the house where I grew up, and who drives back and forth to my home and to church (our church).
Having lunch with friends and family. The opportunities are endless.
What I Will Miss Most:
The children...interacting with the children; the comradery with friends and colleagues which I found in my 17 years at GA; parents who have become longtime friends! Oh...I will miss the blessing of my salary! (smile)
CLICK HERE to share a memory with Connie
CLICK HERE to make a gift to the Annual Fund in honor of Connie
From the email to the GA Community:
The art of education. No, I don't mean colorful bulletin boards and student self-portraits hanging in the hallway, though both may be lovely.
Let's parse the phrase.
Art: work created with imagination and skill ~ beautiful and expressing important ideas or feelings.
Education: to lead out or bring forth.
A teacher who practices the art of education joins with her students and through imagination and expertise draws out the very best, and always quite beautiful, person who waits within. Sometimes teaching is easy, the energy between student and teacher flows effortlessly and creation is a dance. Sometimes teaching is tough and requires flat out courage to discover the chink through which to slip to find and free the spirit within. Teaching can be risky business. The very best teachers live to take that risk.
Connie Williams, fourth grade lead teacher, intuitively understands students, all students, perhaps especially the students who open cautiously, who seem, at first, to open not at all. "Maybe his little heart isn't getting the support it needs," Connie says and finds a way to tend that little heart with compassion and a healthy dose of laughter. For this reason and many more, it is with deeply mixed emotions that I announce Connie's retirement at the end of the school year.
Connie has blessed our school first as a parent of GA students, then as assistant teacher in first grade with the late Sally Wolf 1760, and finally as a lead teacher in fourth grade. Connie brings her authentic self to every interaction. A wise and witty counselor for many students, parents, and colleagues, Connie's sense of self, rooted in her faith, has grown strong and sure. She knows herself to be an excellent teacher. She believes in herself, and her students feel, intensely, her belief in them.
Without a doubt GA is richer for Connie's presence in our community. She is a creative, compassionate, care-full teacher, who embraces her students and their families, speaks her truth, and maintains a direct connection to the higher power. She is a blessing to us all. Do I hear an "Amen"? I know I do! Sincerely, Maggie McVeigh 1760, Director of Professional Development