Nicolas Williams has a shoebox full of notes that remind him why he loves his career. Past students who were impacted and inspired by his teaching have thoughtfully left behind their words of encouragement and thanks, meaning more to Williams than they’ll likely ever realize.

Even students who have experienced some of his tough love appreciate the passion and care he pours into his career. One of the notes reads, “Dear Mr. Williams, You are the coolest teacher I've had at this school. It seems like I was just in your classroom being taught by you. It's like every time you see me, you have so much energy when you say my name ... Even though you've written me up in the past (we are not going to speak on that), I just wanted to write you this letter because I wanted you to remember me as a kindhearted student. I'll miss you, man."

Williams calls himself a “lifelong learner,” with goals to advance his own education and move into an administrative role in the near future. But for now, he’s embracing every day he has with a classroom full of students at Mann Magnet Middle School.

“Teaching is my passion,” Williams says. “I take great pride in it. I am lucky because I get to do it with joy and with students who I help to realize their potential.”

And his impact extends beyond the classroom walls. Williams likes to attend his students’ sporting events and is also the sponsor of the Student Council and Gentlemen's Club at Mann Magnet Middle School.

“I chose Student Council because it promotes student and school pride as well as student leadership and a positive school environment,” Williams said. “I chose the Gentlemen's Club because I want to reach young males socially and emotionally in order to reach them academically.”

In these settings, Williams hopes he can have a positive and lasting impact on all of his students. But he also knows that a quality education and solid upbringing start at home.

He encourages his students’ parents to be present, active and encouraging.

“Parents are the first teachers,” Williams says. “Parents should create strong support systems for students both at home and at school to increase learning.”

He experienced this support system as his mom supported him growing up and throughout his blossoming career.

“My mother has impacted me all my life,” Williams said. “She has gone without in order to provide for me. Ever since I was a small child, I saw her work many hours to provide food and clothing not only for me but for all four of her children. She is the backbone and strength of our family. She's the matriarch and loves her family. She has always supported me in my endeavors.”

As Williams looks to the future, he is confident in his next steps. He plans to pursue an Ed.S. program in order to obtain principal licensure and then work to attain principalship.

“The future holds limitless opportunities for me; I'm certain.”

Do you know a central Arkansas teacher who works hard every day to inspire his or her students to learn, reach goals and dream? Click here and nominate him or her for one of our 2021 Amazing Educator Awards!

See more of this year's Amazing Educators.