October 15, 2020 – “I was a mass communication major so I didn’t really have an education background, other than my parents were both teachers and I wanted to coach basketball. Fresh out of college, I did the 4-12 shift at TV20 doing the nightly news. My days were free, and I started substitute teaching. It got to a point with subbing where I thought I might want to make it a career. That’s when the district office told me about the EPI [Educator Preparation Institute] program at Santa Fe College.
EPI opened a lot of doors. A lot of the professors I had were retired educators within our district, and some were still serving as administrators. When you have people who are teaching – actually in the field themselves – and you take their experiences into consideration, it can really take you to the next level. Now, as an administrator, I do notice a difference in teachers who gained experience through EPI.
I taught ESE – exceptional student education, or students with disabilities – for seven years. Back then, when you were trying to get a teaching job, you got your foot in the door through ESE because a lot of those jobs are high turnover. As the chair of ESE, I was responsible for IEPs [Individualized Education Programs] and compliance. There were also six or seven other teachers that I would coordinate with. I moved over to the sixth-grade team leader position and I started seeing some of the decisions and ideas that we were coming up getting passed down to the kids, and seeing the changes it was making for them and their education, and that they were coming to school feeling good.
Making those decisions as a leader opened my eyes. If you would have asked me 15-20 years ago if I’d ever be an assistant principal, I would have looked at you and laughed. But you know what? Once I got into teaching and I started to see the significant difference I was making in the classroom, it put a different perspective on things.
What I learned in EPI was monumental. I was very young, about 23 years old, fresh out of college. I wasn’t sure if I wanted partake in teaching as a career. But to be able to get that course work under my belt through the EPI program, it prepared me to get into education and to learn what it takes to really be successful.”
- Leroy Williams, Assistant Principal at Eastside High School