Achieve Today. Excel Tomorrow. 2016 - 2021 Strategic Plan

Tommie B. Williams

June 20, 2015
A little over 20 years ago, the school board for the Arlington Independent School District decided to build a new elementary school to address the increasing student enrollment in south Arlington. In Arlington, it is tradition to name schools and buildings for educators from the district who have had significant impact on students or the profession. So, in the fall of 1992, the doors opened to Tommie B. Williams Elementary.

In 1996, four years after the school's opening, a new wing was added to accommodate the growing numbers. That was also the year I was hired as a classroom teacher. It was a wonderful experience to be part of a group working to provide students with a safe place to learn where expectations are high. My path as an educator took me to other campuses and positions and I feel lucky to have been able to return to Williams as Principal. Although fortunate to have met Ms. Williams, after learning of her passing, I felt the need to know more about the namesake for our school. In school documents, articles and scrapbooks I found information about a woman; Whose family was adamant about the importance of education; Who knew in first grade that she wanted to become a teacher, and pursued that goal at Terrell High School and Prairie View A&M; A woman who experienced education before integration in Texas and participated in its realization at Booker T. Washington High School in Wichita Falls. She was a clinic aide, a teacher, a basketball coach and a cheerleading sponsor. In joining Arlington ISD, she was a counselor, a dean and the first African American administrator in the district.

In seeking information, I was provided a copy of the video of the school's dedication ceremony from November of 1992. The most interesting piece of the ceremony was when Ms. Williams spoke. She said Williams Elementary would be "more than a name, more than cold stone. It would be beauty and spirit and light. More than a name, but a promise." She continued, "I never want to forget from whence I came. I vividly recall as a student in public school that children of my descent were not allowed to attend other schools where there were other races. And now my name is affixed to a public school where there is no limit to the number of different nationalities who are at liberty to attend. What a beautiful bouquet." She went on to say, "There are times I wondered 'What could I do to leave a token to show future generations my love and hope for children? Within my heart, I simply believe that Williams Elementary is another true indication that Dr. Martin Luther King's dream is truly becoming reality. And because Williams echoes the best part of my life and because it is a promise, it must continue to be a school second to none, a guiding light for the community, for Arlington, the state. Why not the world?"

Tommie B. Williams was an inspirational educator, worthy of the namesake recognition. Today at Williams Elementary, we continue to work toward her ideals. I am grateful for her service to children and honored to be a part of her legacy.

To view the Williams Elementary dedication video, click here.

4915 Red Birch Dr. 76018


Year Opened: 1992


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Tommie B. Williams

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