Home Education A newcomer to the Newark School Board gives priority to academic renewal

A newcomer to the Newark School Board gives priority to academic renewal

A newcomer to the Newark School Board gives priority to academic renewal

Crystal Williams, a newly elected member of the Newark Board of Education, faces security, school culture and academic renewal when she takes office.

Williams who scored the most votes in the April 19 school board election, she was sworn in for a three-year term – and her first elected post – at a virtual reorganization meeting last week. Re-elected board members A’Dorian Murray-Thomas and Daniel Gonzalez also took the oath. The three ran to Fr. slate is supported by powerful politicians including Mayor Ras Barak, who won Tuesday for a third term.

Williams said at the meeting that she knows a lot of work is needed to help students get out of the pandemic. “I am just ready to serve here, ready to do everything necessary for the children to get what they need. We need to come out of this pandemic not the same, but stronger, smarter and kinder, with a commitment to do what is right for children. “

Williams, a network technician at Verizon for more than 20 years, sees his role on the board as a support representative.

“If you don’t give your customers a quality product, then you lack customer service, and a competitor enters and accepts your customer,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s the same for students and parents of Newark’s public school system. They are our customers and we must provide them with quality services and education. “

And in that regard, she says she deeply understands what her new “clients” want from the board.

As a single mother of seven children currently attending or attending public and charter schools in Newark, Williams has seen school buildings are deteriorating, lunches that make her children lose their appetitelack of classroom resources and low test scores.

She has also seen the dangerous ways children go to and from school, and hopes to deal with them, though she does not know exactly how. “It’s all new to me, but I’m going to ask a lot of questions,” she said. She also said that the impact of the pandemic on student performance is of great concern, as is school culture, s low morale of the teacher affecting student motivation.

“I want the quality of life of students while they are in our schools to improve, making sure they want to be there and be proud of their school, and to feel that they are welcomed, loved and respected,” she said.

Over the years, Williams has found time to volunteer in parent teacher associations and advocacy groups. Uncompromising parentsa group of parents who are supporters of school choice.

She met Jasmine Morrison, a fellow parent and group leader, on a school bus to Trenton. Morrison said they are heading to the state capital along with other members of the group to oppose the decision block extension some charter schools in Newark.

“Crystal has played an important role in the group, whether it’s going to rallies or helping to hold coats and hand out bags,” Morrison said in a recent interview. “She has so much energy and you see that energy in her interactions with the kids and I think she’ll bring that to advice.”

Co-Vice President of the Board of Directors of Asia Norton said she was looking forward to the fresh look that Williams would bring to the board and its monthly committee meetings.

“Although she is new to politics, she is not new to motherhood or the workforce,” Norton said. Ms. Williams is proud to be a mother and makes sure her children have everything they need, be it in class, on the football field or going to college. And I think she will do the same with children all over the district ”.

The Williams children are 3 to 23 years old. Her senior, Brooklyn, graduated from Rutgers-Newark in May 2020 and at that time had difficulty moving on to distance learning.

Her son Jason, 16, coped well with distance learning but had serious difficulty returning to school in person, she said. After considering several options, Williams translated it into Academy of Leaders for Life at South Ward, a school that helps students earn an equivalent high school diploma. He graduated in December and now attends the Universal Technical Institute, the campus of a trade school in Bloomfield.

“He went the other way,” Williams said. “I’m not going to force him to fit into what he isn’t. Now he comes home from school excited and earns money by working part-time. ”

With seven children, Williams said, it is quickly becoming clear that all children learn differently and require different support.

During a recent phone call when Williams drove her second senior, 17-year-old Autumn, to Temple University in Philadelphia to visit campus, she shared tips she often gives to her children.

“Sometimes we have to go around, and a detour – it’s not necessarily a bad thing – along the way you can find a place where you want to live,” she said. “Sometimes the detour works in your favor. Maintaining openness and a positive attitude is the key. ”

Williams said she never imagined she would run for any public office, especially because she dislikes public speaking and prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

But after catching COVID at the start of the pandemic and seeing her children endure their struggle, she decided she didn’t want to “hide” anymore. When she was approached by other parent advocates and community members to run for the Newark School Open Council, she decided to go for it. Guaranteeing support from influential political players, including State Senator Theresa Ruiz, and the money that comes with that supportplayed an integral role in her successful campaign.

“I’ve never been on the board, so I don’t know a lot of things, and I’m going to turn to board members for help,” Williams said. “But I know I want a better quality of life for children, and I will be true to my promises.”

Catherine Carrera is the head of Chalkbeat Newark’s bureau, which covers urban K-12 schools with a focus on English learners. Contact Catherine at ccarrera@chalkbeat.org.

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