Dr. Stacy Williams is entering her fourth year teaching at Marist, where she teaches Psychology and Special Education classes.
What generated your interest in psychology? Why did you decide that you wanted to teach it instead of fully dedicating a career to being a psychologist?
I stumbled across the field of psychology as an undergraduate at Amherst College. I am from a family of educators and have always dreamt of being a teacher. However, while at Amherst, I sought to explore and possibly merge the fields of education and psychology. I love this field because one is able to apply psychological principles to learning effectively and efficiently. I have used my passions to create supporting educational environments for struggling learners. In the end, I am living my dream and the legacy of my family.
How did you get involved with teaching at Marist? What do you love the most about teaching here?
My husband and I own a home in the area, so when a job became available four years ago, I eagerly applied and was offered the position. I enjoy my students’ eagerness to learn, their polite banter in and out of the classroom and their zest for making use of every opportunity to expand their personal and professional horizons. I love the interaction they have with my dog Naji, who has become a major player during exam week with helping students manage their stress levels.
Are there any specific areas of psychology that you are most interested in? Why?
I am a school psychologist by training. In this field, I have cultivated the identity as a systems-level consultant. As a systems consultant, I primarily work with districts in creating supportive environments for both teachers and students. I have also been honored to do consulting work in Jamaica, working closely with rural educators in supporting the needs of students in that environment. I take pride in watching a student who initially struggled to learn a concept, master a skill and the joy it brings to both parents and teachers. I enjoy watching teachers develop skills and the confidence that comes from moving an entire class towards higher standards. My role as a school psychologist is to support teachers and staff in meeting the needs of all students.
Do you do any kind of research in psychology at Marist? Do you involve your students in that research?
The easiest answer to that question is YES. In the past 3 years, my students and I have presented several papers at both local and national conferences. I have been honored to take about 11 students to these conferences. I enjoy working with students and currently have several projects underway for the coming school year with Marist students. Additionally, I have published two articles since being at Marist with students and have several others in submission.
What is your favorite part of the Marist community, and especially the students?
I enjoy interacting with students outside of the classroom. I have been honored to participate in a drumming circle with students going off to Ghana, jumping for joy at sunset celebrating the end of the semester with students, engaging in breathing exercises and mindfulness activities to reduce the stress and tension of finals week. I have enjoyed attending talks and cultural expressions of talents, listening to students and sharing in their revelations of life and love and mentoring them on their journey towards “adulting.”
Why should students take an interest in psychology? How do you connect psychology to real-world issues?
I love what I do! Students see that and they want to learn more. They often describe me as being passionate about the subject matter. My field isn’t a job; it is a calling. We connect psychology to real-life issues/experiences in the classroom daily. In class, we bring in pop-culture via videos or real-life examples to exemplify the topic at hand. My students’ voice and experiences are also important and lend credence to our discussions.
What is your favorite classroom moment or something that you're exceptionally proud of from a teaching perspective?
My classes are challenging. Every year, I raise the bar. In one of my undergraduate classes, a student at the beginning shared that she was only taking my class because it fit with her schedule. I am proud that this student did not check out given I wasn’t her first choice. Throughout the semester, she challenged herself and persisted throughout the activities. At the end of the semester, she shared that she was happy she was stuck with me because she learned a lot of content, about herself and was able to learn skills that were readily applicable. As a teacher, this is a powerful moment, when students are able to identify what they have learned but more importantly put it into practice.
What is one thing about yourself that you would like a prospective student to know?
I hold all students accountable for their learning. All students can get an A in my courses if they put in the work. If they are ready to work hard and learn in the process, they are welcomed in my classroom.
What is something that you hope your students take away from their time working with and learning from you?
Lin Manuel Miranda writes, “the best moments when you’re a teacher is when you’re laying back and the kids are making the connections for themselves and all you do is keep the ball in the air…You’ll know when those neurons are firing and things are happening and you just get to watch it.” Miranda captures my sentiments about what I want for my students. I want them to learn and to walk away feeling accomplished that they pushed themselves and that at the end of the day they can see the fruits of their labor. My greatest joy is to see past students excelling in both professional and personal endeavors and to get that ‘hug’ from that student who challenged me at every step of the journey. The bottom line is, taking a class with Dr. Williams isn’t easy---there may be tears along the journey but in the end, when it matters the most, it will be worth it!
Written by Adriana Belmonte '17
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Campus: New York