Julia Williams left from work at Northside High as its assistant principal on Friday and reported to her new job Monday as the school’s top leader.
As Northside High’s new principal, Williams said, she plans to focus on improving the culture of the troubled school, revamping its academic intervention program and developing professional learning communities among the teaching staff.
She said she’ll hold an open house sometime in early May for the community to tour Northside and hear more about the plan she pitched during her interview.
“I’m focused on improving our school culture by building relationships with students and getting parents and the community more involved at Northside,” Williams said Monday afternoon.
Williams replaces Melinda Voorhies, who resigned last month after coming out of retirement in 2012 to help launch the school’s turnaround plan. The school received an F letter grade from the state in the 2013-14 school year.
Williams said Monday that she has “big shoes to fill.”
“There are very high expectations. We have a lot of room for growth and we’re all excited about working on that,” she said.
Williams first joined the staff at Northside in February 2013 as an assistant principal. Prior to that, she worked with other math teachers in the district in the role of lead teacher. She was named the 2011 Louisiana Teacher of the Year while on faculty at Lafayette High, where she taught algebra to gifted education students.
Northside’s intervention program will see some changes under Williams’ leadership. She said she wants to revamp the program so it focuses more on students’ academic weaknesses.
“Right now we have an intervention period, which is more of a study hall,” she said. “We’ll create a response to intervention program that looks at overall gaps, and identify students’ weaknesses to use programs specifically designed to help them.”
Two others interviewed for the position — Lafayette High assistant principal and former interim Northside principal Mary Yvonne Zeno and Mikal Stall, a teacher at Comeaux High.
In her application, Williams cited her experience in helping to lead Northside High and her role as a mentor to teachers and students on the campus. She said she’s also received training on Compass, the state’s revamped teacher evaluation system, and served as vice chairwoman for the Louisiana Department of Education Advisory Committee on Educator Evaluations, “making me well aware of the many challenges our teachers face in this new era of accountability.”
“I truly believe that I can assist in leading Northside in the changes that need to take place,” she wrote in her application.
Williams holds two master of education degrees from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in gifted education and educational leadership. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in math from LSU and began her teaching career in the Lafayette Parish School System in 2002. She’s also held adjunct instructor positions at UL-Lafayette and the University of Phoenix.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.