When juniors at Edmond Santa Fe High School enroll for their senior year courses, K.C. Williams' government course is a top choice among the students.
Williams is an Oklahoma Christian University alumnus and has taught in Edmond for 16 years. Before teaching at Santa Fe, Williams taught at Summit Middle School for seven years.
"I never intended to be a teacher," Williams said. "I wanted to farm in Kansas but realized it wasn't my strength. I believe teaching was a door that God opened for me because I can honestly say I would not have dreamed I would be a teacher upon graduation from high school or even junior college."
In February of this year, Williams was named Teacher of the Year by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Any class has the potential to become mundane, but students are not bored in their government course.
Oklahoma Christian freshman Chance Nichols is one of many Oklahoma Christian students who had Williams as a teacher while attending Santa Fe.
“He made the class fun and made a boring subject interesting,” Nichols said.
Williams has had an interest in social studies since high school. Mr. Thompson, his high school government teacher, was influential in his interest.
Before attending Oklahoma Christian, Williams was as student at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan., where he received a degree in criminal justice.
Williams’ baseball coach at Seward County Community College recommended he look into Oklahoma Christian. Williams was also offered a spot on the university’s baseball team.
“I was a baseball pitcher at OC from ‘88-90 and then finished my degree in ‘91,” Williams said.
Williams pursued a degree in social studies education, and several faculty members encouraged Williams as he made his way through college.
“Dr. Maple took me under his wing and nurtured the desire for history and social studies,” Williams said. “He really pushed me, and I respected him for that. I owe some of my teaching techniques to him.”
Williams went on two summer mission campaigns with history professor John Maple to the British Isles.
John Wilson and John Thompson were also important history professors of Williams’ life in and out of class.
Williams was a member of the university’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national collegiate history honor society.
Students at Santa Fe particularly enjoy how Williams engages the whole class in discussion.
Santa Fe senior Morgan McEwen said Williams will give the class a topic and the students will debate, reflecting on their political view point and their own thoughts.
“He’ll also relate it to personal experiences that he’s dealt with or heard about, and it just makes us realize what’s going on,” McEwen said.
Williams also daily discusses current events with each of his classes.
“With the coming election, we all have something to talk about,” McEwen said. “I feel like if I didn’t have him as a teacher, I wouldn’t know half of what was going on with the election.”
Students also learn the process of making a bill into a law by working with a computer program. The students create and present their own bill and try to get it passed.
“My method of teaching is getting the students involved in the discussions, civics projects and political arena,” Williams said. “I truly want them to have a hands-on experience and will do everything within my power to make sure the opportunities are available.”
Williams has a genuine concern for his students at Santa Fe. Each semester, the class is visited by the Speak Out program.
Through this program, incarcerated inmates visit the class and speak about the choices they made and the crimes they committed. The students have heard from robbers, drug addicts and convicted murderers.
“The program is crucial because it shows that these are ‘normal’ people and that they got caught up in choices they made throughout life,” Williams said. “It gives the students an insight that can’t be taught. It is easy to talk about the death penalty or punishment, but when you see and hear the stories, it allows the students to realize that these are real people and not just a statistic.”
Williams was officially announced as Teacher of the Year during a ceremony on Feb. 25 at the Supreme Court Courtroom at the State Capitol building. Williams said the ceremony was life-changing.
“I must admit that I didn’t realize how significant the award was until we walked into the chambers of the State Supreme Court at the capitol,” Williams said. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to even be mentioned as the Oklahoma Supreme Court Teacher of the year. I will cherish this for the rest of my life and feel extremely blessed with the opportunity.”
Williams is a teacher most students say they do not forget. One reason is because Williams has introduced them to the world they interact with daily.
“I didn’t even care about government until this class, and now, I know how important it is,” Santa Fe senior Brittany Jascavage said.
Another reason Williams’ students won’t forget him is because they know he is genuine.
“He’s one of those teachers where you look forward to going to class; that’s rare these days,” Oklahoma Christian freshman Jeffrey Davis said. “He loves life and it shines through him.”
Article written by Lori Woodfin for the Talon