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Jordan Williams: Making a Difference in Physical Education at Williamston's Elementary Schools

The Hornet Hive Podcast

Release Date: 05/16/2024

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More Episodes

In the latest episode of the Hornet Hive Podcast host Dr. Christopher Lewis sat down with Jordan Williams, a dedicated physical education teacher at Discovery Elementary and Explorer Elementary in the Williamston Community Schools. The conversation delved into Jordan's experiences, challenges, and the inspiring impact he has had within the school community.

The Pandemic Pivot: Navigating Physical Education during COVID-19

Teaching physical education during a pandemic was no easy feat, as Jordan shared. He highlighted the initial challenges of connecting with students while adhering to safety protocols that included masks and social distancing. Despite these hurdles, Jordan emphasized the support he received from both the students and the school community. As a new addition to the district during the COVID-19 era, Jordan expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and the collaborative efforts to ensure the continuation of physical education in a safe and engaging manner.

The Heart of the Community: Fostering Student and Family Engagement

One of the aspects that stood out in Jordan's discussion was the deep sense of community he experienced in Williamston. From the enthusiastic participation in events such as the Halloween parade to the overwhelming support for initiatives like the Kids Heart Challenge, it was evident that the school and the community are deeply intertwined. Jordan's anecdotes painted a picture of a vibrant community that not only embraces the school but actively participates in initiatives aimed at promoting student health and wellness. The strong bond between the school, families, and the broader community reflects a shared commitment to nurturing the holistic development of each child.

Empowering Through Physical Education: The Impactful Role of a Teacher

As the conversation unfolded, Jordan revealed the personal connection he has with his role as a physical education teacher. His journey from a student passionate about sports and physical activity to a teacher dedicated to inspiring the same enthusiasm in his students showcased the profound impact a teacher can have. He shared how the diverse range of activities offered in class, from traditional sports to lesser-known activities like pickleball and tennis, aims to ignite a lifelong love for physical fitness and well-being. By emphasizing the broader aspects of health, including nutrition and making healthy choices, Jordan embodies the modern approach of physical education, aligning with the evolving needs of today's children and providing them with the tools for holistic well-being.

Mentoring and Learning Together: Building a Supportive Network in Education

Jordan's recollection of his experiences, particularly the mentorship he received from fellow educators, shed light on the importance of a supportive network in the field of education. His acknowledgment of learning from his colleague, Mr. Plaxton, showcased the collaborative environment within the school. It highlighted the significance of continuous learning and professional development, even for experienced educators. The narrative underscored the immense impact of teamwork and collaboration in fostering an environment where not only the students but also the educators can thrive and continue to grow.

Jordan Williams' insights and experiences as a physical education teacher at Williamston Community Schools exemplify the critical role of educators in shaping the overall well-being of students. His dedication to promoting physical fitness, healthy habits, and community engagement underscores the profound impact of a supportive school environment. Through Jordan's words, we are reminded of the instrumental role of physical education in grooming the next generation and inspiring them to lead fulfilling, healthy lives.
 
In this engaging conversation, Jordan's passion for his work shone through, serving as a testament to the profound influence of educators who go beyond teaching and truly shape the lives of their students. As we reflect on this insightful discussion, we are inspired by the commitment and care that Jordan and his colleagues bring to their roles, paving the way for a brighter and healthier future for the students in their care.
 

TRANSCRIPT

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:04]:
Welcome back to the Hornet Hive. I'm your host, doctor Christopher Lewis, one of the members of the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education. Really excited to have you back again this week. This week, as always, I love being able to share with you Some of the amazing things that are happening within our schools and taking some time to be able to not only tell you about programs and activities and things that are happening, but beyond that, letting you get to know some of the amazing staff that are within our schools, that are working with our kids on a daily basis because you may or may not know them, and that's okay. But it's important for you to get to know who they are so that you know who's working with our kids too. And today, we got another great guest with us. Jordan Williams is with us. And Jordan is a physical education teacher at Discovery Elementary and Explorer Elementary and working with students k through 5.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:51]:
And he is he's been here for a few years, and I'm really excited to get to know him a little bit better and for you to get to know him as well. Jordan, thanks so much for being here today.

Jordan Williams [00:00:58]:
Thank you. I'm happy to be here.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:59]:
It is my pleasure having you here today. And I guess first and foremost, you've been here for a few years now. What initially brought you to Williamston?

Jordan Williams [00:01:05]:
Well, I actually grew up kinda in the area. I grew up in the Weberville, Danville area. I went to high school in Danville, actually. So and my mom actually worked here in Williamson for for a really long time. She worked for an eye doctor, a local eye doctor here. So I always knew that this community and the schools were amazing. And when When I found out that they were looking for someone, I definitely was all over it because I knew, like, this was a place that I wanted to be. It was kinda one of those things where I I didn't mind where I was at, But there was just a few schools on my list that if something ever popped up, I definitely would try to to get the job.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:38]:
Well, I'm excited that we were able to snag you away and be able to bring you into the district to work with our kids. And, you know, you've been here now for a few years. You came in over COVID, during COVID, which is a challenging time for most teachers, but especially for special teachers as you were and physical education teachers as well. So Talk let's talk a little bit about that and the transition into not only a new school, but a new school during a pandemic. What did you have to do to be able to augment the learning opportunities for students to be able to help them not only continue with physical education, but physical education during times when you're having to really change things to be able to keep everyone safe.

Jordan Williams [00:02:20]:
It was definitely a challenge. Like I said, My previous school that I was at, we had just over 150 kids. So it was I got to know you know, I knew all their names and everything. And coming in here, they all All the kids had masks. It was hard because it was hard to get to know the kids, their faces, and everything like that. So it was definitely a challenge. It started. It took me a while to get Kinda used to, it was probably hard for them too to really get to know me because I was behind a mass a lot of times.

Jordan Williams [00:02:46]:
So it was definitely a A challenge to start, but the kids and the other staff and, like I said, even the community just welcome you with open arms and everything like that, and it was a good transition for me to My 1st year here and everything. Well, it it was a struggle because you're so used to doing something for like I said, I've been teaching for 12 years. So I had to change a lot of things up. Luckily, when I came in, it was kind of past the online, Like, most of the kids were back in person and everything like that, so I didn't have to to deal with that a whole lot. But just making sure the kids were spread out luckily with the gym, That's kinda easier to do because the kids can kinda spread out, but just making sure things were wiped down, clean, all that. Like Like I said, it was definitely it was definitely a challenge, but the kids here and the other staff really helped with the transition process for me. And like I said, it went as smooth as it could For as as challenging as it was, you know, it it really was. It was a good experience for me.

Jordan Williams [00:03:45]:
Like I said, hopefully, we don't have to ever go through that again. But if I had to pick if I had to pick up stuff a place to figure this kind of stuff out. It Williamson was amazing. Like I said, it was I felt comfortable. If I ever had any questions with the administrators, I could always go to them and Ask them because, you know, I had questions too because 1st year here, they had different guidelines and set up, so I had to make sure I Was inside of those too. So it was a challenging experience, but it was also enjoyable for me just to get my feet wet here and just to get to know the kids in the community.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:04:14]:
Now As I mentioned, you started here in 2021, just a few years ago. And in any teaching opportunity that you take advantage of, in any opportunity where you're in a School District. There are things that day to day, month by month, year by year that sustains you in the work that you do. And As you think back to the experiences that you've had thus far within our district, what has sustained you in this work, and What makes Williamston a great place to work? So for

Jordan Williams [00:04:40]:
me, the kids, the community, the families, the other staff members just have been so supportive. It probably helps with what I teach, but, like, when they come in, the kids are always just excited to be here. And like I said, so enjoyable working with with The kids here, they always come in and they're ready to learn, eager to learn, and, you know, they there's times that they, that they teach me some things too because there's some that they're like, hey, mister Williams, we've done this in the past. Can we can we do this? I'm like, sure. You know? So they teach me some things too. But the big thing for me too is just the community. Like I said, I've been really, really amazed just how much this community embraces the school. Just from, like, the Halloween parade and stuff Center.

Jordan Williams [00:05:20]:
It's just amazing to see how many parents are out there watching the kids walk around. Fit For Life, we're actually doing our Kids Heart Challenge, Which is for American Heart Association. This was the 1st couple years that I've ever partaken in it because I tried it at my old school and we just didn't Get the reception from the parents. Here, it's I think the last few years, we've made over $80,000 for the American Heart Association. It's just amazing just to see all the parents get involved and everything like that. And then just, like I said, just the surrounding staff members. Like, I always feel like I If I ever mean anything, I can always talk to any of the administrators, and they're always here to help. And it's refreshing because I don't think you get that at every school.

Jordan Williams [00:06:01]:
And, and same with the support from the community too. I feel like it can always if we ever need anything for the gym or anything like that, if we ask either, like, the school board or just PTO or PTA. If we ever need any help from them, they're always on top of it. And if we ever need donations for like just like Kleenexes or anything, I think I I think we asked for Kleenexes 1 year, and I think we ended up with, like, 40 boxes, you know? So it's just it's just, it's just so refreshing To be in this type of work environment really is.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:06:29]:
Now you just mentioned you're talking about being a physical education teacher, and you could have probably taught many different areas. You you chose to be a physical education teacher. What was it about physical education that made you decide that that was the area that you wanted to teach in?

Jordan Williams [00:06:43]:
School. Yeah. So when I was younger and stuff, like, you know, I've always enjoyed sports and being physically active and stuff, and so when I was when I was in high school, I had an opportunity to shadow a, elementary Fit for Life teacher or PE teacher. And just going down there and working with kids, I had just enjoyed it a lot. And at that point, I was like, You know what? This is kind of something that I really think I wanna do. And then going through college and just being able to do some experiences and doing some student teaching and everything, it just pretty much clarified that I might made the right decision because I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy seeing them progress throughout the years, seeing how much they, you know, improve just being physically fit. And When when you see some of those moments that, that a kid just understands and gets it, it it does make you feel good.

Jordan Williams [00:07:28]:
And like I said, You're right. I probably could have classroom teacher or anything like that, but this was kind of my calling. This was kind of what I kinda wanted to do. Like I said, I always enjoyed being physical fit and School. And the type of sports, I mean I've played every different type of sport growing up and everything like that. So for me just to kind of show my passion through some of the activities that we do in class, I just hope the kids can kind of feel the same thing and then maybe they pick up sports activities that maybe they never would have tried like tennis or golf or something like that. If they can see that, hey, you You know, mister Williams enjoys doing that. Maybe I should try it sometime and see if I can enjoy it.

Jordan Williams [00:08:03]:
So that's kinda why I ended up going towards the the physical education route just because Of my experiences in the past with that. Like I said, I just enjoyed it so much. And my phys ed teacher has really helped me going through school Either through our coaches or anything like that. I've had a lot of nice good mentors that have shown me the way too. So that kind of steered me towards that direction.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:24]:
Now When I talk about physical education, some people in their minds are gonna think gym teacher. Some people are gonna think lots of different things. And the role of a physical education teacher now is not gonna be the same as what it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago. Talk to me about the role that you play in working with the students and how it looks different than, let's say, when you were a kid.

Jordan Williams [00:08:48]:
Yeah. I think now it's You're definitely dealing with other challenges too. I think it's not just obviously, you're covering the basics, you know, how to throw, how to catch, how to pitch, A lot of that stuff, but you're also trying to teach these kids how to be physically fit for the rest of their lives and trying to be more just trying to touch other different things too because There's a lot more challenges now that we have to deal with, you know, just with technology and other like that. So my goal is just to, is to show these kids that, hey, it can be fun to go out and move around. And so I'm trying to teach them different things too where they can do it at home. They don't need a ball. They don't need special equipment. It's one of those things where we're trying to teach these kids how to be not only physically fit, but also just healthy in general just with the types of choices they make with With foods and and drinks and stuff, it's it's pretty broad when it comes to that just because we want the kids to understand, hey.

Jordan Williams [00:09:42]:
You know, obviously, it's important to be physically fit, but there's other things that we need to, to think about. And back when I was a kid, we went outside and we played and we did all that other stuff. So now it's a little bit different. That's what one thing that I've noticed here though. I think the kids Really do enjoy doing things outside and playing and stuff. And like like I said, with this community, it's it's nice because they have those opportunities. There's a lot of parks and stuff. So I I think Mr.

Jordan Williams [00:10:05]:
Plax and I both try and teach these kids how to, do other activities other than your normal just You know, your basketballs or your your soccer, other activities such as pickleball, tennis. We're trying to teach these kids other things where they can go out and have fun with them. And then Those types of activities they can they can play the rest of their lives. You know? Even when they get older, they can do pickleball, they can do tennis because all their sports Center are those are activities that you can do all the way till you're older. And and I've noticed too the kids really enjoy those. They really enjoy pickleball. They really enjoy tennis because that might not be something that they normally get a chance to do too. So

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:10:41]:
Now You have been in the district for a few years, and you've had different experiences, things that are positive, things that may be negative. You know, never know. Every day you walk home and you probably have different stories and the teachers definitely are storytellers. Can you share a story with me that for you really epitomizes the experience that you've had thus far as a staff member here in Williamston.

Jordan Williams [00:11:01]:
Yeah. So for me in previous in my previous jobs and stuff, I was I I was the only special teacher. Either it was me or there there was, like, an art teacher here. There's a whole group of us because, you know, there's another Fit for Life teacher with Mister Plaxon, and we have a art teacher, a music teacher, Spanish. And just the 1st day I got here, I felt like I felt comfortable because I had people around me who helped me out, especially mister Plaxton, the other fit for life teacher. He he kinda took me under his Swing a little bit. Like I said, I've done this 10, 12 years before I came here, but I learned so much from him, and and he always kind of just showed me the way. You know, if I ever had any questions, he's like, hey.

Jordan Williams [00:11:43]:
This is how I do it. This is kinda and so I learned a lot from him even now. Like, you know, I thought I knew a lot coming in, but then after Getting getting stuff from him. His knowledge has just been amazing. Like I said, I think just some of the activities that mean the activities that we've done after school or even, Like I said, the Kids Heart Challenge. Just seeing the kids kinda just come together, the parents, everyone just, Like I said, it's been amazing to see how much community support there is here in Williamston. And, you know, when I talk to my other friends or Center. Teacher friends and stuff, I tell them just how amazing it is because they're like I said, you don't get that as much anymore.

Jordan Williams [00:12:20]:
It's a small community feel, but it's a bigger community. And it's One of those things where I always feel like if I ever need anything, I feel like there's a lot of people that I can count on that can always be here to help me out. So that's kind of what I've notice. It's been just an amazing experience these last 3 years, and it's a place that I feel like that I can keep going.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:12:41]:
Well, Jordan, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for all that you're doing to engage our kids and challenge them and push them to live that healthy lifestyle and to start young and creating those habits that will help them to stay healthy throughout their entire life. And we're so excited to have you in the district, and I wish you all the best.

Jordan Williams [00:13:01]:
Thank you. Thanks for having me too. Like I said, I'm I'm happy that I can had an opportunity to talk to you today and and the community too.