Top of Page

Inside CPS

News and Stories from across the District

Diverse Learner Teacher Determined to Help Every Student Reach Their Full Potential

07 September 2023

Ms. Williamson is committed to a student-centered approach to teaching. 

Ms. Williamson

When she thinks back on her time as a CPS student, Ms. Mekea Williamson can almost instantaneously rattle off the names of a number of teachers who inspired her. She describes herself as a student who never wanted to stand out and notes that these teachers helped her find her confidence and kept her from fading into the background. 

So, it’s not too surprising that she’s found her way back to the classroom to positively impact students of her own. She started her career working with infants and toddlers, explaining that the instant gratification of working with extremely young children was a big plus for her. While she wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when she made the transition to working at an elementary school, she has found the work to be just as fulfilling. 

And she sees Libby Elementary School as exactly where she’s supposed to be. 

“Everyone has such a great history here at Libby, and this is the first school I’ve ever been in where the teachers have decades of experience and are staying here,” she said. “They make it feel like a family, and at the end of the day everyone has each other’s best interests at heart.” 

The support from her colleagues has helped Ms. Williamson develop a more student-centered approach to teaching. She says that, at first, she acted more like a “helicopter teacher,” where she would hover over students to make sure they were staying on track. Now, she instead promotes more student-to-student discourse. She cultivates self-advocacy within her students by making sure they know how to find resources on their own. And she is committed to personalizing learning for each student.

welcome back sign

“One of my goals for this year is for students to take more initiative and ownership,” she said. “If they get stuck, I want them to say: ‘I got this.’ That might lead to: ‘Ms. Williamson, can I share these cool facts I found with you? Can I share them with my friends?’ This can also really help with their social-emotional learning as well.” 

Since she teaches fifth through eighth grade, she is quick to remind her students that they are role models for the students in younger grades. She knows that, in order for them to set a good example for others, they first need to feel like they belong at Libby. 

That’s why she relies on the co-teaching method. This approach structures the classroom in a way where diverse learners are not clustered in a single group. All students are spread out in groups throughout the classroom, and they know that they can always reach out to Ms. Williamson or another teacher for additional support. This method also encourages peers to help each other. 

If a student needs more one-on-one attention, she always makes herself available. While she never strays from giving a student grade-level work, she creatively adjusts the pace or quantity of the work given to ensure that she is meeting the student where they are and that they are able to feel a sense of success and accomplishment.

“The moment when you see a student’s face light up because they were able to read a sentence in a book and their chest pokes out and they fist bump you makes me so proud,” she said. “Because even though they may struggle, they know that they can take ownership of their learning and that practicing will pay off.” 

While Ms. Williamson hopes that her students continue to build on the academic skills they are learning from her, the two takeaways she cares about the most are that her students remember that they have a voice and that they never settle for anything less than being respected while also respecting others. This same advice helped her as a student, so she knows firsthand how powerful it can be. 

“This school year, I want my students to enjoy the process, keep making progress, and never stop wanting to get more,” she said. “‘More’ can be a lot of things. You can get more understanding. You can get more opportunities to learn something new. You can get more friendships and relationships. But you can’t be afraid to ask for them, and you need to put yourself out there to get as much as you can.”

picture outside school

Related Stories

23 May 2024

A School Year Full of Learning and Growth

By Laura Garza, Kindergarten Teacher at Nobel Dual Language School

17 May 2024

Take Five with Laura Godwin: Literacy Interventionist and Climate & Culture Lead at Dore Elementary

Ms. Godwin is known to be an asset in creating a positive and engaging learning environment, and makes it a point to ensure that the students and staff around her feel happy.

16 May 2024

Finding the Perfect Role as a STEM Specialist

By Ms. LaTina Taylor, STEM Technology Specialist at Langston Hughes STEM Elementary School 

16 May 2024

Getting to Know One of Our District’s Yale National Fellows

Mr. Barr believes an educator's craft is a form of artistry.