EU Alumni Perspective: Joe Williams
Name: Joe Williams
Graduation Year: 2005 Bachelor of Science- Elementary/Middle School Education and 2009 Master of Educational Leadership
Current Position: Assistant Principal at Sturgis Brown High School
City and State: Sturgis, South Dakota
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER AND WHAT YOU DO NOW
After graduating from Evangel, I taught an at-risk middle school classroom at Carver Middle School in Springfield, MO. I learned about some of the toughest kids out there. Not only did I learn how hard teaching could be, but I also learned that I loved the kids that many had given up on. After two years in this position, the program funding was cut and I began teaching 5th grade at Jeffries Elementary. I held this position for three years. In that time, I earned my master’s degree in Educational Leadership through Evangel. In 2010, my wife, Melissa Williams (Keller, 2006), and I moved to Spearfish, South Dakota. I began teaching in Deadwood, SD as a 4th grade teacher. I also coached volleyball and track and field. I loved these positions, but soon God opened a door for me to become the 6-12 assistant principal and activities director in the Lead-Deadwood School District. I was really excited to finally put my secondary administration certification to work. I continued to coach volleyball during my first two years as an administrator, but the job’s demands kept me away from my family more than I wanted. Our first child was born in 2013 and I knew I needed to do a better job balancing my work and my home life. With this in mind, I changed schools and positions. Sturgis School District is right down the interstate from our home. They had a pre-K through 8th grade assistant principal position available. I made this move and was content with the change. Our second child was born around the time of this move. This new position gave me more time with my wife and two children. It also allowed me to focus on the educational part of my position and not get bogged down with athletic business. It turned out that during the first year in Sturgis, two different positions opened up for head principal for the upcoming school year. I felt more than qualified for these positions and thought I could see what God was planning to do with me. As it turned out, God had different plans than I thought. I did not get either position. When I found this out, I was in shock and a bit angry for about six months. God really had to work on me, but being the benevolent God that He is, He did just that. It turns out that, despite not getting the head positions I wanted, the Sturgis Brown High School Assistant Principal position opened. It was not the plan I had in my head, but I know my plans are not as good as His plans. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” I started this position in 2019. After serving in that role for one year, my local administration nominated me for the South Dakota Region 7 Assistant Principal of the Year. In December 2020, I was named the South Dakota Assistant Principal of the Year. Melissa and I also welcomed baby #3 on February 23, 2021. I know God is not done with me yet, and as I look back at my accomplishments and challenges, I can see God’s fingerprints all over my life. I am grateful for the direction God has given my life.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM EVANGEL?
I have many great memories of my years at Evangel. My best memories come from my tribe of friends, Darren Eddington, Macy Mitchel, Josh Morrill, and Nate Wells. There are so many fun memories it is hard to pick just one. One of my favorite memories is when we set up a slip’n slide in the dorm hallway. Yes, we made a mess, but man we had fun! I also remember times when we talked deeply about our spiritual relationships and who God is. It is these friendships that God used to mold me and helped me become who I am today. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my memory of the Evangel Softball Team’s annual volleyball tournament. My team made it to the championship game and won. It just so happened I asked a girl out from the losing team and we got married a couple of years later!
HOW DID EVANGEL HELP YOU IDENTIFY/DEVELOP YOUR CALLING?
Evangel is structured in a way where classes not only offer educational opportunities, but also have professors who are passionate about developing students in their respective fields and building relationships with them. I can remember learning from Dr. Jon Spence and Dr. Coleen Hardy and seeing their passion for not only teaching us, but also for getting to know us on a personal level. For me, this translated into wanting to do the same thing with my students in school and with the teachers and staff. Relationships are key to helping and developing others. These two professors led by example and I am so grateful for that. Ultimately, they helped me understand that my career is my mission field.
HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AT EVANGEL PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE AFTER GRADUATION?
I learned about relationships at Evangel. Living in the dorms helped me understand how to work with all types of people. I also feel that my classes prepared me above and beyond for what I would encounter in my career. I felt like I could reach out to any of my professors after graduation for assistance if needed.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A CURRENT STUDENT PREPARING FOR THE WORKFORCE?
Care for those around you, be honest, and work hard. These three things are key to standing our and making a difference.
WHAT WOULD YOU LOOK FOR IF YOU WERE IN A POSITION TO HIRE NEW GRADUATES FROM EVANGEL?
I want to see graduates who want to change the world for Jesus. If you have that mindset, God will take care of the rest! Also, it is great to see graduates coming into the field with a strong work ethic, a coachable spirit, and an ability to work well with others but still be self-motivated.