Mrs. Julia Williams arrived at Boys’ Latin in 2006 to fill a simple eighth grade science vacancy, but her journey to Boys’ Latin has been anything but straightforward. Mrs. Williams was born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and immigrated to the United States, where she pursued her career in education. Since her arrival on Lake Avenue more than 15 years ago, Mrs. Williams has established herself as a cornerstone of the middle school faculty, teaching chemistry and physics and providing students with invaluable perspective as a native Sierra Leonean.
Raised in Sierra Leone, Mrs. Williams is the eldest of four and grew up with a father who worked as an Assistant Principal and teacher at a local all-boys school. As such, the Williams family understood the importance of education and hard work in their studies: “Whatever we achieved, we worked for it,” she remarks. Mrs. Williams was always drawn to science and math, and exited high school intending to pursue a career in medicine, hoping to come to the United States and attend medical school. Unfortunately, she was not able to come to the US at that time, and Sierra Leone did not give her proper access to the medical schooling she wanted. Perhaps drawing on her parents' roots, Mrs. Williams decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in education: “it[education] was the natural path.” She graduated from the University of Sierra Leone with a B.S. in Education in 1983. Mrs. Williams would go on to teach math and physical science at two schools in Sierra Leone, while also juggling family responsibilities as a wife and mother of two boys.
In 1999, however, Mrs. Williams embarked on the next chapter in her life. She entered into a US Diversity Visa Lottery and was chosen for her qualifications as an educated, respected teacher. This acceptance quite literally turned her world upside down; she and her family moved to the United States, settling in the Baltimore area. The transition was not totally smooth, though: “I missed my church, and despite the war, there were certain things I was connected with that I no longer had,” she recalls. Nevertheless, she persevered and continued her teaching career in the Baltimore City and County school systems, even going on to graduate school at Goucher College, where she received an M.A. in Teaching in 2004. Mrs. Williams almost left the teaching profession in 2007 but credits two students who urged her to move to the private school sector. And when an eighth grade physical science position opened up at Boys’ Latin, she did just that. Since then, Mrs. Williams has not looked back; she has spent the past 16 years teaching eighth graders the Periodic Table and Newton’s laws.
Mrs. Williams commented that Boys’ Latin has evolved into a more technology-based learning environment since her arrival, a shift that has some challenges but one that she has embraced. Whether students are using spiral notebooks or Chrome laptops, Mrs. Williams is sure to remind them of the importance of discipline, hard work, and acknowledging the incredible opportunities they’ve been given. It is both that perspective that she brings and the outstanding teaching she is known for that make her such a valuable asset to the Boys’ Latin community.