2010 Dave Jones Award Winner: Sterling Williams

Service characterizes Sterling Williams, her students and their families. Williams, Lejeune High School science teacher, was selected as 2010 recipient of the Dave Jones Award for her work with her local newspaper. She’s a veteran teacher with 24 years at Lejeune High School and 10 years in North Carolina public schools.

All teachers work on the frontlines, but “frontline” takes on greater significance for teachers such as Williams whose students have family members serving in the military. Local, national and global issues merge as students feel the direct effects of front page news.

Williams teaches subjects that challenge many students, biology, environmental science and marine biology, and she supports and coaches students who come to her for extended learning at the end of each day. The flexibility and adaptability of newspapers allows her to use them in all her classes.

Williams uses newspapers to get to know her students, having students complete a coat of arms with items drawn from the newspaper. As initiating activities, she shares main ideas from stories that report science news and encourages students to share what they find on their own. Students complete short activities that align with the content of stories in the news. Williams also guides their reading, customizing worksheets for selected news stories. And, students bring in stories that they find, completing summaries and making oral presentations on the stories. The 3—2—1 guide and her guide for critiquing marine biology stories are examples, posted on the website.

In extended learning class, students show how newspapers promote the reading habit and connect home and school. Students work on classroom and homework assignments and read newspapers on their own and discuss issues with their teacher and classmates. Many students take newspapers home with them at the end of the day.

Williams receives 20 newspapers each Monday. She uses news reports and the special NIE page, World of Wonder, published on that day. She receives ten newspapers every other day. She also uses the Mini Page and saves issues that support teaching on science topics and will use editions archived online.

Williams acquired her love for newspapers from her parents who shared their love for news and education. She has built a relationship with her local NIE director, Carolyn Alford of the Daily News, to keep up-to-date on sources available to teachers. The newspaper’s e-edition will allow her to search archives for stories relevant to science topics. To further her learning, she has attended courses and workshops on effective use of newspapers in the classroom.

Recognizing Williams’ commitment to integrating newspapers into her classes, The Daily News chose Williams as NIE teacher of the year for 2009-2010. Alford’s story about Williams described her use of news about the recent oil spill off the Gulf coast.

A local story, published May 6 in the Globe, described the work of Williams’ students in the community, “LHS students have big impact on environment,” for their support of recycling on the marine base. Learning about local issues led to their service. Williams is a model of service, having dedicated her life to teaching and her use of scientific data as a call for students to serve their community.

Williams was recognized at the NC Press awards held in February 2011.