In fact, that familiarity is embedded in the DNA of McGarity Elementary School kindergarten teacher Holly Williamson, who is a fifth-generation county resident, fourth-generation Paulding educator and in her 12th year as a kindergarten teacher at McGarity.
Winning the system teacher of the year title last week also added to the accomplishments of her growing family in 2014. She became a mother in February for the first time, while husband, Trevor, recently earned his certified public accountant certification.
“It has been a very big year,” she said.
Williamson, 33, is the daughter of Freddy Henderson and Dallas Elementary School teacher Rita Henderson. She is a 1999 graduate of Paulding County High School who earned her undergraduate degree from Kennesaw State University, and her master’s and Education Specialist degrees from Piedmont College.
A committee of community leaders reviewed each of the school-level teachers of the year and determined the winner. The event at West Ridge Church in Dallas was a fund-raiser for the Paulding Education Foundation, which organized the ceremony.
Each school-level winner was asked to submit an essay which included details on where and when they taught and their community involvement. In Williamson’s case, in addition to 12 years of teaching, she leads a music ministry at First Baptist Church of Dallas and is a member of the city of Dallas’s Historical Preservation Commission.
She said she was asked to explain her philosophy of teaching and community involvement. School officials also taped an interview with her and shot some footage of her as she taught.
In the video, she said she talked about how to reach students because they all had different “learning styles.”
“It’s important to address different styles of learning so you can make sure everybody learns what they need to learn,” Williamson said. She also said she liked to incorporate “all the five senses” into hands-on lessons for her students “to make it a meaningful learning opportunity.”
Williamson said she was surprised by the award after seeing video interviews with the other school-level winners.
“Just sitting back and watching clips of these teachers, I was inspired,” she said. “We have some amazing teachers.
“It just affirmed for me that I’m perhaps reaching the students, and their parents. It just makes me want to do better and better.”