Friday marked the end of the career of one of Columbia County's more high-profile educators.
After 33 years as a teacher and administrator, Associate Superintendent Lauren Williams retired last week.
"I have four grandchildren here in town, with three of them being ages 2 and under," Williams said of her reasons for retiring. "I want to spend more time with them and my father.
"One of the first things I'm going to do is take him (her 86-year-old father) on a trip to Hershey, Pa.," she said.
Williams, 55, started her career as a sixth-grade teacher in Fredricksburg, Va. She also taught in Kentucky and Florida before moving to Augusta in 1986 to teach at Episcopal Day School.
A year later, Williams joined the Columbia County school system as a sixth-grade teacher at Martinez Elementary.
When Lakeside Middle School opened and her sixth-grade class moved there, she remained at Martinez Elementary teaching in a lower grade.
As she gained experience and furthered her education, Williams worked her way up to assistant principal and then principal at Martinez Elementary.
Eventually, the school board took notice and brought Williams to the central office as director of school improvement.
From there, it was a quick transition to associate superintendent under former Superintendent Tommy Price and current Superintendent Charles Nagle.
"She has been instrumental during my administration of helping us to continue to meet the challenges of No Child Left Behind," Nagle said. "She led us through our first system-wide (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation, relieving our schools of much pressure that normally surrounds a very serious accreditation process."
Nagle also noted that Williams conducted leadership classes for aspiring administrators and "meaningful" professional learning opportunities for teachers.
"By all accounts, our principals and school system leaders have expressed their deep appreciation for her leadership and support," Nagle said. "She will be greatly missed."
But Williams doesn't intend to stray too far.
"I don't want to have to work every single day, but I do plan to stay in education and do some part-time consulting and writing," she said.
Considering the current education budget crises, Williams said she wants to write a book on "how to do school on a shoestring (budget) and still get great results."
Her first education assignment after retirement will be a vacation Bible school class at Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church.
"I haven't taught Bible school since 1986 and now I'll have time again," Williams said.
But Bible school might be the only teaching assignment Williams will immediately take on.
"At the central office, summer is just as busy as the rest of the (school) year," she said. "I want to enjoy a summer off. I feel like I finally graduated."
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