English Teacher Finds Time To Sponsor Student Organizations
by Daisia Smith ‘22
English teacher Lynnette Evans-Williams wears many titles at Sherwood. While teaching AP Language and Composition and Honors English 9 for five periods a day, Evans-Williams is also the sponsor of both Black Student Union (BSU) and National English Honors Society (NEHS).
Evans-Williams sponsors NEHS and shares that her “passion for English makes it easier for [her] to feel connected with students who share the same love for literature.” She also enjoys the community aspect of these clubs that she sponsors where all those who are participating join because they want to, not because they have to do it. Although being a sponsor may seem simple, NEHS this year has 100-plus members, and it is Evans-Williams who is, “going through student transcripts to make sure students meet the GPA requirement, making sure [she] has their recommendations from other English teachers that was required, keeping up with emails coming in from parents and students…” The club is student-led for the most part but as the sponsor and adult in charge, it is her responsibility to aid in organization and ensure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.
Evans-Williams explains how she is more hands-off with Black Student Union because there is not as much paperwork compared to the English Honors Society. She allows the BSU leadership team to be more of the forefront as she listens and provides her support. Although both of these clubs clearly differ, the sense of community that both of them entail is what keeps Evans-Williams going.
Evans-Williams became the sponsor for BSU last year during virtual learning and accomplishments include members meeting with administrators regarding responses to inappropriate behavior within Sherwood, a joint meeting with the Asian Pacific Islander Student Union, and planning new events for the near future. With her help building a strong leadership team of Sherwood’s students of color, many more voices are being heard. She shares how a leadership team that includes seniors helps her understand student perspective and, “get a sense of what [black and brown students] experience at Sherwood.” Evans-Williams can relate to the students’ stories from her own experiences in 15 years at Sherwood. She too has faced several microaggressions and had even been targeted by students who made blatantly racist comments. When Evans-Williams was initially asked to become the sponsor for BSU, she was excited to help assemble a new generation of students who are passionate about unity within the school and ready to make change. Such interactions “makes the job worth it.”