Milton Williams signed an annual contract for 35 years. But it was more than a commitment to the teaching profession — it was a commitment to his students, as well. His belief: “All children come with a strong desire and enthusiasm for learning. As educators and parents, it’s our responsibility to foster and maintain that desire and enthusiasm. We cannot be the cause of an educational breakdown in student learning!”
Sharing a similar vision is Elizabeth Yvonne Williams, Milton’s wife of 32 years. Their combined resumes read something like this:
He’s a 1975 graduate of Southeast Bulloch High School, but would return almost 20 years later to coach football and basketball for 11 years at his alma mater.
She’s a 1977 graduate of Montgomery County High School.
He graduated from South Georgia College in 1977, obtained a BS in Health and Physical Education from Georgia Southern University in 1980, a master's in Education from Cambridge University in 2005, and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Cambridge in 2008.
She’s a 1981 graduate of Armstrong State University and earned a master's and Educational Specialist degree from Georgia Southern University in 1998.
He has been a Health and P.E. teacher at Effingham County High School and Central Jr. High School, and principal and assistant principal of Southeast Bulloch Middle. He has coached middle and high school football, boys and girls basketball, middle school soccer and high school track and softball.
She has been a science educator in Montgomery, Chatham and Bulloch County schools, an educational consultant, a biology instructor at Savannah State University, a principal and assistant principal in Bulloch County elementary and middle schools, and is currently a University Supervisor and Instructor of Elementary Education at Georgia Southern University.
While cutting these paths in the educational arena, the trailblazing twosome made history as their schools’ first black principals: Elizabeth at Stilson Elementary and Milton at Southeast Bulloch Middle School.
Appreciation of their children
Derrick (the oldest of two adult sons) reminisces, “We watched both of our parents further their education while we were growing up. Whether it was my dad traveling to Cambridge in Boston for his EdS or mom going back to Georgia Southern for her EdS, they sacrificed.”
Nor did Milton’s ardent approach to his profession go unnoticed by his sons.
“We’d spend hours upon hours with our dad at the school doing homework and studying while he coached various sports,” Derrick said.
Their mother’s commitment to her profession was modeled throughout their upbringing as well. The family often accompanied Liz to numerous destinations for speaking engagements or other academic obligations.
Now meet the Milton and Liz Williams who wear the monikers Memee and Papee for their grandchildren.
Youngest son Gerald weighed in and described his parents' love for their family as unconditional.
“When I look at them I see love, sacrifice and greatness. My mom is my rock and my dad is my hero. What other parents would cater to their son’s love of reptiles in spite of being deathly afraid of them?”
Liz cringes and laughs with the admission that she and Milton were “snake sitters” for Gerald’s vertebrate during his time in basic training.
Patience and service continue to be evident in Liz’s leisurely pursuits. She has taught sewing classes to girls age 8-16 for the past two summers and has developed a passion for quilting.
“I have created 23 quilts to date — many of which I’ve given as gifts.”
Grandchildren Anaya, Kamryn and Ian are particularly impressed with their grandmother’s embroidery skills and have learned to make their requests known. Six-year-old Ian keeps Memee busy with custom orders.
“He recently sent a picture of Sonic the Hedgehog and asked me to put it on a shirt. Needless to say, I had to scan the picture and convert it to a stitch file and then embroider it on the T-shirt,” Liz lovingly boasts.
“While Ian is an exceptional artist with an affinity for reptiles and snakes, Darien (18 months) loves a ball and (like his dad, Derrick, who played football, basketball and baseball throughout his middle and high school years) verbalized 'ball' as his first utterance.”
Committed to church, family
Members of The Body of Christ Assembly Inc, the Williams are a spirited couple who diligently give back. She describes herself as being passionate about leadership responsibilities to the women’s ministry and Sunday school. She’s also committed to being the best wife, mother and grandmother she can be by supporting, listening, being physically present and sharing her wisdom and service without reservations.
Milton notes the Bible verse, “The Lord is my Shepherd” as his favorite and is a church deacon, president of the men’s ministry, and president of the Pastor’s Support Committee. Thankful for his life of leisure after retirement, he’s found a way to bond with granddaughters Anaya,12, and Kamryn, 9.
“Both girls are playing basketball this season. I’ve been working with them on techniques. We have a regulation height goal and court at my house.”
Milton enjoys yard work and gardening where he raises fruits and vegetables which are freely shared with family and friends.
“I also enjoy being a supportive husband, father, grandfather and son. I’m fortunate to have my 95-year-old grandmother whom I care for daily.”
Derrick concludes, “We are honored to have been raised by two individuals who have always put God first and have walked by faith while raising us. You only get two parents; we were just blessed to have Milton and Elizabeth Williams as ours.”