By Skip Vaughn, USAG RedstoneOctober 23, 2009
Barbara Williams spends much of her time attending meetings at school and talking with military parents. She doesn't mind her busy schedule; she just wishes more people knew she's available to help.
"I still see people every day that say they don't know about school liaison services," she said. "I would say that's an area that needs improvement."
Williams serves as youth education support services director/school liaison officer in Child Youth and School Services under the Garrison. She started in April after 32 years in the Huntsville city schools system.
"The position that I'm in is very similar to my position in the Huntsville city schools district where I worked with families and children. I'm still working with families and children," said Williams, who formerly served as the director of pupil services at the city school board. "This one's different in that it's issues that concern schools and military children's education. My primary responsibility is of course military children's education."
She has already seen the community's support for military children, whose mobile lifestyle entails frequent school changes. Under a new program this year called Military Operation School Supplies, 20 corporate sponsors provided 375 book bags filled with school supplies. The effort started in June and the book bags were distributed to military families in early August.
"It was just an overwhelming project," Williams said. "They poured out a lot of support for our families."
Now she just wants military parents and federal-connected parents - because they are mobile as well - to know that she's here to help. If they have concerns or school issues that need to be addressed, they're welcome to call her at 842-9642.
Military children residing on post attend Columbia High, Williams Middle and Williams Elementary. The school liaison officer also serves military children who reside off post and attend other Huntsville schools, Madison city schools and Madison County schools.
"I deal with a lot of issues concerning schools and military children. I facilitate solving prblems and resolving issues with families," she said.
She has seen growth in the programs within Child Youth and School Services, including the home school program, and more communication with the local school boards. She attends the board meetings with Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli.
She tries to do outreach with parents, not only concerning transitional issues but other problems they may be having in the schools as well.
"I serve as an advocate for families," Williams said. "I help give parents the tools they need to be advocates for their children."
She plans to continue training school personnel on issues regarding mobile families. This includes school counselors, teachers, administrators and special educators. The Armywide training normally occurs annually through the Military Child Education Coalition.
Williams said she also plans to increase the number of schools involved in the Student 2 Student program, under the Military Child Education Coalition. In that program, training is provided to enable peers to help with transition of their military classmates.
"Very adequate" is how Williams describes the schools in Huntsville, the city of Madison, and Madison County. "We have wonderful schools in all those districts."
Her education career began with 16 years as an English teacher at Johnson High followed by three years as an assistant principal at Chapman Middle. Around 1997, Williams became a district administrator and served as the director of pupil services. She and her husband, Hosea, have a son Brandon, 20, who attends Calhoun Community College and will go to Alabama State in January.