LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Standing in front of a group of fourth graders, Morris Williams taught a lesson on goals. It was a lesson he once learned when he sat in these same Washington Elementary classrooms as a child.
“This is where I started,” Williams said. “I went to school here.”
Now, he’s volunteering at the Little Rock School District campus and mentoring three students.
“I’ve been mentoring for a long time. It’s a passion of mine,” Williams said.
Williams is a longtime mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. The organization focuses on one-on-one mentoring and also expands to group mentoring at schools and organizations.
“The things I try to instill in them is number one, be respectful. Respect each other and certainly you have to respect me because I have certain rules and if you don’t follow those rules, they know what will happen,” Williams explained.
While Williams was not always sure if the fourth graders were absorbing his advice, after talking with the students, it was clear that Mr. Williams was making an impact.
“You get a little discouraged because you think, am I really doing any good?” Williams said.
“He taught me how to do the right thing, how to talk about stuff that I did in the past and then how to get over it,” fourth-grader Gerald Johnson said. “He taught me how to get over it and do the right thing.”
“[He taught me] to kind of fix my behavior,” fourth-grader Chase Rogers said.
“[He taught me] to be good, be honest and don’t fib,” fourth-grader Chase Rogers said.
For some of these boys, Williams is the only male role model in their life. While Williams did grow up with his father in his house, he knows first-hand how the lack of attention can feel.
“I didn’t have that one-on-one with my dad. When I started going to school, there were male teachers that I had developed a good relationship with,” Williams recalled.
He hopes to be that positive influence and ignite the potential in these students’ lives.