Our Interview With Ms. Williams!


Barakat Jooda, Editor

The New Dealer was lucky to interview Ms. Williams, FDR’s AP of Science. Ms. William has quickly become one of FDR’s leaders for social justice. Here is our April Interview!

The New Dealer: What are you currently doing, as the AP of the Science Department, to help teachers navigating remote and in-person learning?

Ms. Williams: We have a lot of meetings.  The teachers function well within their content area teams. I provide them with different supplies and resources they need. This sometimes includes purchasing e-platforms such as Test Wizard and Gizmo. I also give them time to plan and prepare, and I make sure to incorporate them a lot in the planning process of all things related to the Science Department. 

The New Dealer: What are some challenges being faced by the students during online learning, and what is being done to make things easier for our students?

Ms. Williams: Some of the students are bored, and some feel like they get a lot of work. In addition, some have a hard time understanding the lessons. As to what is being done to make things easier for students, most science teachers decided to teach the entire period, and they try to get a lot of things done in groups for the students. They provide them with lots of guided notes, translated lessons, videos, real-time explanation, time in office hours, and extended time to complete tasks. The science teachers have also tried to modify the labs, so that the students can submit work based on the new New York State requirements on labs. I think the Science teachers are more lenient, and they give students more time to turn in work and catch up.  The teachers have also created culturally relevant lessons on Covid-19, the legalization of marijuana, the Flint Water Crisis, and the Taboo around the Menstrual Cycle and discussions on Cancer. 

The New Dealer: I know you were very active during Black History Month at our school. Can you tell us briefly about some of the activities you planned and participated in? Did you find the experiences rewarding?

Ms. Williams: I have conducted two Town Hall presentations with Ms. Washington. One was around the time George Floyd was murdered.  The other was around diversity and tolerance.  I am also a part of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) at our school. I am one of the advisors, along with Ms. Gaitor, Mr. Voltaire, Ms. Emile, and Ms. Marcano.  During Black History Month, we gave the teachers resources every week, for them to determine how the resources can be incorporated into their classes. The resources were divided by subject area. We also had different speakers, movie screenings, and we had a black history celebration for the members of MBK. We also collaborated with New Utrecht High School’s My Brother’s Keeper club. It was a lot of work, but it was rewarding. 

The New Dealer: I also know that you are one of the advisors for the My Sister’s Keeper club, so can you tell us what this club is all about, and why you decided to get involved? 

Ms. Williams: My Sister’s Keeper(MSK) is an off-shoot of My Brother’s Keeper(MBK). MBK was an initiative created by Former President, Barack Obama, to close the achievement gap and ensure that young black males can reach their goals. The MSK was created with the same intent. The goal is to create relationships with our female students, fill in the gaps (wherever that may be), and also be a resource for them to help them achieve their goals. I have done both the MSK and the MBK at other schools, so I am very familiar with the challenges faced by all girls, and I am very keenly aware about the plight of young black men in schools. 

The New Dealer: Apart from being the AP of the Science Department, and being an advisor for both the MSK and MBK, what other roles do you play in the school?

Ms. Williams: I am developing a Health Sciences educational option, and I created the Honors Academy with Mr. Catalano.  It will be launched September 2021.  I am also working on bringing a food pantry to the school. I do a lot of town halls (as you know). I am working with an organization called Follow Us, which is an organization designed for students in FDR who are interested in science, get into “science colleges.” I am also working on bringing a greenhouse in the school’s courtyard (fingers crossed). In addition, I am working on bringing Career and Technology Education (CTE) to the school (also with Mr. Catalano), where students get trained in different areas such as medical science and technology.  The CTE program serves as a bridge to help them gain employment in that area.  I am very community-minded and I love science; I am just trying to figure out how to bring science, and community, to the FDR community. 

The New Dealer: How has remote learning been for you personally, and what challenges have you faced with online learning, and now transitioning to in-person learning?

Ms. Williams: Remote learning was harder at the beginning, with learning how to help the teachers and students.  The challenge really is coming back to the building, because the teachers who are remote don’t get enough of my attention, as the teachers in the school. We are trying to figure out how to deal with textbooks, labs, and other things. It really has not been perfect, but it has been okay.

Thanks again to Ms. Williams, for all she is doing to make FDR at better place!