Henrico’s Top Teachers – Tish Williams

Tish Williams can thank her dog for her successful teaching career.

Well, sort of.

Williams moved to Henrico seven years ago and was walking the pooch past Deep Run High School one day when she saw a sign on the school's marquee advertising for an instructional assistant. She was looking for a part-time job and applied.

Once she got the job, she quickly developed an appreciation for the school, its environment, students and faculty members. So she went back to school herself, obtained her teacher's certification and became a full-time teacher at Deep Run.

Now as an exceptional education teacher who works with mathematics students, she is able to use two sets of skills for which she's been trained. (She originally earned a degree in social work and served as a case manager before coming to Henrico.)

Working with students who have a variety of disabilities is challenging but rewarding for Williams.

"The most rewarding part is seeing students grow and succeed and reach their goals from year to year," she said. "I see more progress, and in social work you don't always see progress. In teaching, I sometimes see it right away."

The parents of her students see it, too.

"Tish has exceptional knowledge of special education and a passion for making a difference in the lives of her students," one nominator wrote. "Tish always makes time to help our son succeed and has found a very personal way to motivate him, when other teachers have failed to engage him."

Williams works in a collaborative setting with general education teachers, assisting students and sometimes pulling them out of class for more individualized help. She has flexibility to tailor her methods to each individual student's needs and even to try new and creative approaches as she sees fit. The goal always is to return them full-time to mainstream classes. For the students under her watch, that's often the case.

"Today we have a successful student, in mainstream classes, with most of the credit due to Ms. Williams proactive involvement and guidance," the nominator wrote. "She truly made a difference in his life."

Williams won't be job-hunting on any other marquees anytime soon.

"I will do this the rest of my career," she said. "It's a great mix, because I do get to do a little social work and I do get to learn.”
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Cowboy Mouth will perform at 8 p.m. at The Tin Pan, 8982 Quioccasin Rd. Formed during the glory days of grunge music, Cowboy Mouth forged a different sound from the very start – a sound rooted in rock, punk, blues and the attitude of the Big Easy, the band’s hometown. Bandleader Fred LeBlanc, who previously performed with the punk band Dash Rip Rock, pulls double-duty as the group's frontman and drummer. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. For details, call 447-8189 or visit http://www.tinpanrva.com. Full text

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