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Finding My Way to Teaching Others

By Najzma Williams '17

Hey, Naz!

Let’s catch up! My life has blossomed drastically since my graduation in 2017. I went from hating my job, to a fulfilling career in just five short years. Let me fill you in. 

Najzma Williams on her graduation day, May 14, 2017.

Rocky Beginnings

For starters, life after graduation was tough, at first! My grades weren't terrible when I left Naz but they definitely weren't the greatest, and jobs in the speech and language pathology field were scarce without credentials. I found myself scavenging for a job, and jumped on the first opportunity I could find which was in the scheduling department of the Center for Urology at UR Medicine. After one month, I came to the conclusion that I hated my job because I was neither fulfilled nor using my degree in any way.  Leap of Faith 

Before I knew it, an opportunity fell into my lap that allowed me to teach in a charter school in Rochester, New York. I worked my way up the educational ladder and used every bit of literacy knowledge that I learned at Naz. I gave it everything I had. By the end of my second year in education, I was hospitalized for high blood pressure caused by anxiety. “Where did this anxiety come from?” you might wonder. It came from my job. I was overworked, underpaid, and interrogated about the knowledge that I studied for years to understand. At that point, I knew that it was time for a change. Taking Up Space

In July of 2019, I packed up everything I had and moved to Atlanta, GA, where I found a sense of community in the KIPP Metro Atlanta School District. It was there that I realized what I was actually capable of in terms of literacy, coaching, and curriculum writing. It was like I had this big “A-HA” moment where all of my studies and training finally made sense. I progressed from being a classroom teacher and an instructional leader for the kindergarten team. My responsibilities rely heavily on the skills I learned in undergrad as it pertains to improving developmental reading skills.  Where Will Life Take Me Next?

Now that I have my master's degree in curriculum and instruction/leadership, I am working on my transition out of the school building and to a different role where I will train professionals on the science of reading and how that can be used during instruction. Do you want to know the best part? The science of reading is all based on the content that I learned as a communication sciences and disorders major. Talk about full circle! When I graduated back in 2017, I didn't even imagine being where I am now. At 26 years old, I can say that I am beyond proud of myself! It was great catching up with you. I’ll update you in another five years.

from left to right: Dr. Paula Brown, Dr. Megan Tobin, Najzma Williams, and Dr. Melissa Johnson at the Eastman Theatre in support of Najzma’s dance performance in the 2016 Fringe Festival.

Najzma Williams and dance colleagues performed in the MAD Dance Festival at Naz in 2017.