“Diversity, quality schools and collaborative leadership”
Photo by Daniel Holmes
Kendall Williams is the Development and Community Relations Director for the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation, which supports the Shelby County School District. Williams and her husband, R.J., have two young children: Harper, 4, and Miles, 1.
Q: How long have you lived in Shelby County?
A: My family moved to Alabama when I was 10 years old. My parents have lived in the same house in Meadowbrook for over 24 years now, but due to Shelby County’s rapid growth, my older brothers went to Pelham High School, I went to Chelsea High School, and my little brother and sister went to Oak Mountain High School. My husband, R.J., and I just moved back to Shelby County with our two children. One of the main reasons we moved is because we wanted our children to go to Shelby County Schools.
Q: What do you love about Shelby County?
A: I love how diverse our county is. There are many different cities and each has its own personality, but collectively work together to continue to keep Shelby County the best place to live and raise a family. It is also refreshing to have leadership who work together on all aspects to move our county forward. We love all the parks and festivals too!
Q: Describe your job with the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation.
A: As the Development and Community Relations director, I strive to build strong partnerships with our stakeholders. Our mission is to expand the possibilities of educational excellence. Whether we bring in funding, or volunteers, or other resources for teachers and students to succeed, the Education Foundation is the conduit for businesses and community partners to make those connections with our schools.
Q: You started your job with the SCSEF almost three years ago. Why did you decide to pursue the opportunity?
A: Growing up I always thought I would be a teacher, but I also believe it takes a true calling to be a great teacher. I did not receive that call. This was an amazing opportunity to work in education and make a difference in children’s lives.
Q: What is your favorite SCSEF program or event? Why?
A: My favorite event for the Education Foundation is Taste of Shelby County. Not only because I love food and trying new restaurants; it also provides a unique opportunity to all of our stakeholders from each of our school zones: parents, students, teachers, administrators, businesses, communities, and elected officials to be together in one room.
Q: You’re a product of Shelby County Schools. What has surprised or impressed you most about the school system since you graduated?
A: The biggest change I see and experience is the overall shift in instruction. Our teachers in the classroom are not just teaching – they are truly engaged and invested in making sure each student is learning the material. I have also been very impressed with the commitment to making sure students are prepared for what comes after graduation.
Q: What does a typical weekend look like for your family?
A: It depends on the season! We are in the middle of soccer season now, so we spend a lot of time at the field. We also visit many of the local festivals – Mt Laurel Fall Fest is one of our favorites! My husband and I enjoy hiking at Oak Mountain State Park, and having picnics with the kids. There are the typical weekend chores: grocery store and laundry, but we like to stay outside as much as possible.
Q: Who are three people, living or dead, you would like to meet and why?
A: John Lennon because he was so talented and thank him for helping inspire our daughter’s middle name – Lennon! Princess Diana because even though she was a princess, she truly believed it was her job to give back and help others. She was so humble in her work and made an impact on countless people. Her children are continuing her work, and I hope I inspire my own children to give back as well. Finally, I would say Jimmy Fallon. I love how he is so comfortable in his own skin. He is by no means the best singer, but he loves to sing and perform whenever he can. I would love to have that confidence. Plus, he just seems to bring FUN wherever he goes.
Q: What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
A: I would tell my 18-year-old self to continue to travel whenever possible. I have been very fortunate to visit many different states and countries. Seeing different places and cultures first-hand is priceless. Every experience helps shape the person you are, and I know my travels have helped shape me.