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Growing into role: Williams named lone finalist as superintendent

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, April 3, 2019
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Leading the Pack

LEADING THE PACK – Taylor Williams has been named the lone finalist for the superintendent job at Slidell ISD. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Taylor Williams almost instantly made a good impression on Superintendent Greg Enis nine years ago when she started as a fifth-grade teacher at Slidell Elementary.

Enis, a veteran educator, noted how Williams had her students’ best interest at heart and how she commanded the respect of her teaching peers. It wasn’t long into her tenure that Enis started talking to her about pursuing an administration job and also dropping hints to others about her future.

“Mr. Enis, back when Taylor first started, knew she was a unique person who took pride in her job and helping students,” said Slidell ISD School Board President Tim Fletcher. “He told me if he ever left, she’d be a good one to take the job.”

Enis proved correct as Fletcher and his fellow trustees named Williams the lone finalist for the superintendent role last month. Her 21-day waiting period before she can sign a contract with the district will end April 14.

Williams has been the district’s interim superintendent since October when Enis retired.

“I’ve been in a six-month interview since October,” said Williams, who has been completing certification under the mentorship of Alvord ISD Superintendent Randy Brown.

Williams will be taking over leadership of a district that has won UIL academic titles the last five years and a boys basketball championship this spring, along with numerous other honors in academics, theater and sports the last few years.

“I have a huge legacy to carry on. I’m fortunate. I realize that not everyone gets to have their first superintendent role in a school like Slidell,” Williams said.

The superintendent’s office was not an initial goal for Williams. The first generation college graduate knew at an early age that she wanted to be a teacher.

“I always wanted to teach. I was not one of those that switched majors,” Williams said. “My mom will tell you since I was little bitty, I was teaching people. I had a pretend classroom in my room. If you asked me the first year that I got my first job, I would have told you that I would retire as a teacher.”

A Decatur native and graduate, Williams found her first job at neighboring Slidell. She immediately took to the district where she had started as a substitute soon after finishing her bachelor’s degree at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She loved being able to balance several roles, which is demanded at the small school.

“You have to be a team player. We wear a lot of hats,” Williams explained. “There’s no one in this district that doesn’t wear more than one hat … I’m not fit to do just one job all day long.”

The opportunity to grow and take on several roles kept the young teacher in Slidell instead of heading to neighboring districts.

“It’s a village. We’re all on the same team – the school board, the administrators and teachers,” Williams said. “It’s nice to be in a place where you all have the same vision and are rowing in the same direction. I’m fortunate Slidell is like that. As long as I’m happy and feel like I’m growing professionally, this is where I’ll always be.”

After teaching a few years, Williams was approached by Enis about getting her master’s degree and moving into an administrative role. She took on a student services role and coordinated some of the district’s testing and student data.

When she finished her master’s, she was named elementary principal before eventually becoming the secondary principal three years ago.

Williams returned from maternity leave this fall to Enis announcing his retirement. He approached her about taking the interim role.

Since that time, Williams has been learning on the job. She organized the election in November and has been formulating a plan for the district to pay back its portion of the gas compressor lawsuit. The district could have to pay back $579,000 – the most in Wise County.

Williams is taking that challenge in stride.

“We have to do what’s best and move along,” Williams said.

After working with Williams for nearly a decade, Enis is glad to see her follow him in the role.

“I’m glad for her and her family,” he said. “It’s not easy to make that decision and take that route. But I’m glad for her and Slidell. I’m very proud of what she’s accomplished and look for her to do great things.”

Enis’ best advice was for her to continue putting the students’ needs first – a trait that stood out to him in Williams’ first year.

“As long as she focuses on what’s best for kids and as long as she keeps that at the forethought of each decision, it’ll give the school the best opportunity for success,” Enis said. “Successful schools are there to serve the kids.”

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