Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Barry Williams: A Student's Tribute

Here on the "Say Yes to U. City Schools" blog we love to talk about our fantastic students, teachers, and programs. Today we have a story that combines all three: a touching Facebook tribute to a former Brittany Woods Middle School teacher from a student whose life was profoundly affected by the robotics program he started. 

Science teacher Barry Williams served in the district from 2000 until his retirement in 2013, with four years as the science department head. In 2009 he started the district's first FIRST robotics program, the Soaring Eagles FLL team. Since then the program has grown and spread, and hundreds of U. City students have benefited. 

One of those students, UCHS 2015 graduate Walter Deitzler, took to Facebook in 2013 to talk about how Mr. Williams influenced him:

"June 7, 2013
Today I played guitar at the retirement ceremony of the single, most influential teacher in my life, Mr. Barry Williams. Many, if not all of you, know that I am addicted to robotics, Mr. Williams is the teacher that influenced all of this. Before 7th grade, I knew that I wanted to go into a STEM field, but was not sure what exactly I wanted to do. Then, I joined Mr. Williams' FIRST Lego League robotics team, and ever since my life has been changed. He had a passion for us doing robotics. If we wanted to meet before school, he would be there bright and early to let us into the lab. He would allow us into his room at lunch to build robots, and on top of that, we would have our meetings after school for 2-3 hours each day. On Saturdays he would arrange for the school to be open so that we could build robots for another 6-8 hours. In 8th grade, he was my Science teacher, and allowed us to build our robots for FLL in his class. He led us to victory in every single qualifier that we ever attended, and we had reasonable success at St. Louis area championships, both years I was in his program. He nurtured my passion for science, and made me the budding young mechanical engineer I am. he will be sorely missed in the district.
Thank you Mr. Williams!"

Mr. Williams passed away earlier this year, and now Walter is a mechanical and aerospace engineering student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville

. Once again he took to Facebook to remember Mr. Williams and his impact:

"June 7, 2016 
Mr. Williams passed away earlier this year. He had a large impact on all of those he taught, and especially me. He dedicated all of his free time to inspiring students to go into STEM, and was just a great all around teacher."
Rest in peace Mr. Williams."

Barry Williams was just one of many, many excellent and dedicated teachers we are so fortunate to have here in U. City.  These individuals make a lasting impact on our students each and every day, and we are grateful. 

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