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Pamela Williams: Art Teacher • Madison Grant Junior and Senior High This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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When I first came to Madison Grant in seventh grade, people warned me of Ms. Pamela Williams, a mean old gum-sniffing-out teacher known for making high-schoolers cry. Sure I was worried when I first stepped into her class for a subject I enjoyed and thought I was good at – art. Ms. Williams, I soon discovered, wasn't mean at all. She respected students in return for them showing her respect. The attitude she received from some pupils was terrible. Of course she'd take them out into the hall and yell at them. I would have too.

I felt so alone moving to a new town 200 miles from my old one. Art was and still is my it's-okay-to-just-think-and-relax class. Some days, I would come to class in tears. Sometimes I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and cry. Ms. Williams was the teacher who didn't just ask if I was okay, she waited for an answer. She wouldn't let me off the hook without one. If I said “I'm fine,” she could tell when I was lying. She was the first person to start calling me Katie at Madison Grant. (Everyone calls me Katie now.)

My freshman year has been the best and worst time of my life. I had Ms. Williams Introduction to Two-Dimensional Art first semester. One week I couldn't sleep, my home life was crazy, and I was nothing less than depressed. I had stayed up for 38 hours and was so sleep deprived I couldn't hold a pencil and draw. Ms. Williams came over to my desk after the first ten minutes of class because she noticed I had been staring at my watercolor board with my pencil at the ready in my shaking hands since class started. She didn't even have to ask if I was okay; she already knew I wasn't. I told her what had been going on, trying with all my will power not to cry. She took the pencil from my hands, and said, “Katie, you're a mess.”

I told her that I knew it. She told me that I was one of the strongest and most mature people my age she'd ever met and that my parents didn't give me enough credit. I left her class that day feeling renewed. When I turned back at the door to thank her, I saw her wiping her eyes with a tissue. I knew then that she was one of the kindest people I'd ever met.

I never thought an art class could teach me so much about myself. I ­didn't have to stay inside the lines or the boxes others created for me; Ms. Williams showed me I could make them for myself. She taught me that others don't make the future for you; you make your future for yourself. Ms. Pamela Williams is not just an amazing educator, she's a wonderful friend.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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