New Teacher Q&A: Vashti Williams

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Q: What drew you back to MFS?

A: There is a really strong sense of community here and I didn’t want it to just be, you know, I went to high school here, and then I left, and then that’s it; it’s still something I want to be a part of. You know, I’m kind of giving back to that community that gave a lot to me.
Q: How did you find out about this position opening?

A: I spoke to Karen Washington, the Upper School Diversity Coordinator, … and she let me know that there was an opening, [and I should] share it with any of my friends who might be interested, apply myself, and so I did.

Q: What aspects of the MFS Community will you be involved with this year?

A: I’m going to be mostly focusing on Upper School science. I’m going to be working with Mr. Newman. I’m also going to be working with diversity; I’ll be with Karen Washington and Dorothy Lopez. I did not just call her D Lo for a second. There are a couple of different projects I’m going to be working on, and I think I might be working with a few different clubs as well.

Q: What class or subject do you hope to teach long-term?

A: I’m really not sure, I mean, I studied Environmental Studies in college and I’m still hoping to continue with that environmental field.

Q: Do you plan on teaching at MFS?

A: If not at MFS, [then] at another Friends school just because I believe a lot in the Quaker kind of education, pedagogy general concept.

Q: How did you spend your summer?

A: I studied abroad in Costa Rica. I did an ecological project. I hiked around a bunch, got to see a lot of the local flora and fauna, and I did an interview project with local coffee farmers. I also did an internship at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philly, and I was working with the Butterfly Exhibit there.

Q: Are there any teachers that you had while you were a student here that you will be working closely with this year?

A: Mr. Newman, Mrs. Washington, and Mrs. Lopez. But I’ve already seen a bunch of other teachers, faculty, and staff I recognized.

Q: Do you think it will be a weird dynamic?

A: It’s already a weird dynamic. Just because, you know, now my teachers are my colleagues. I’m going to see people going through the same routines that I went through four years ago, except I’m not in that same space.

Q: What are you looking forward to or what are you nervous about?

A: I started off really nervous and training has kind of helped me be less nervous. I mean, this is my first real job out of college. I’m comfortable, because I’m familiar with the space, with the community, with the culture, but it’s also new.

Q: What do you want your students to know about you?

A: That I’m approachable. That I’m always here if you [students] guys want to talk. If need guidance, [have] questions, anything like that. I’m not that old. So really anything, nothing is off limits. Just talk to me, I’m here.

Q: How do you think your leadership positions in college helped to prepare for this opportunity?

A: So, I’ve kind of gotten used to being able to direct people and control large crowds [and] inform people in a way that’s concise and easy to understand. I have also helped people with a really wide range of problems. I was a residential assistant, an R.A., in my senior year, and so I’ve kind of got to know people on a very personal level and help them with not only academic things, but things that were going on in their personal lives. That’s something I think will carry over nicely into this position.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Hmm … I play violin and piano. I do art, various mediums. I embroider, I ride horses, I used to play tennis here (at Moorestown Friends School). Hmm … fashion, make up, a lot of different things.

Q: Are you a cat person or a dog person?

A: See, I love all animals. I am an environmentalist studies major. I don’t think we should have to choose. I want cats and dogs, and various other animals in my house.

Q: Do you have a favorite animal?

A: It’s a three way tie between ducks, sharks, and alligators. I know one of those things is not like the other, but I love all of them. Unfortunately, I can’t have pets over at Robert’s Hall. But once I’m out … yeah.

Q: What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

A: Interesting question. There’s so many different future versions of myself that I’ve envisioned that I’m not even sure I have one specific path. I could do research field work, work in a museum, I could completely eschew the whole environmental studies and sciences background and go into doing something art or fashion related, I really don’t know.

Q: Who would you like to see, politician or celebrity, on a new bank note?

A: On a new banknote, interesting. That’s a really interesting question, I not sure I have a response to that immediately. I think it would be pretty cool — There are a lot of different historical figures who I feel deserve to be on a banknote. It could be the Tuskegee airmen, that would be pretty cool. I can’t think of one specific person that I would want to see on a new bill. I know there’s been a lot of discussion of having Harriet Tubman on a bill, and I’m behind that. The thing is, there’s so many different people who made America what it is now, that I don’t think that one person should outshine the others. I know that we have the founding fathers and their faces are on everything. That’s just one aspect of country and I feel like if money is going to represent the whole country, then there’s a lot of people who would have to be on that list. Maybe we just shouldn’t have faces on bills at all.

Q: What superpower would you most like to possess?

A: I have an immediate response to that, and it is shapeshifting. Think about it: if I wanted to have laser vision, I could shapeshift into a laser. If I wanted to fly, I could shapeshift myself into a bird.  

Q: What is one app you can’t live without?

A: Snapchat!

Q: Mac or PC?

A: This is big, because I’ve had both. I think I’m starting to move back to Mac. I have a (Samsung) Galaxy and I have a PC, but I think I want to go back to Apple. I hope I don’t divide the school over that.

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