Cameron Williams teaches English.
You went to Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts for high school; how has attending a boarding school influenced your teaching philosophy?
I see so many similarities between my experience at Deerfield and St. John’s, especially in terms of the culture around academics. I think a lot of this stems from the small, discussion-based classes and investment from both teachers and students in learning. While at Deerfield, I really took advantage of the fact that my teachers were all so present and approachable. I attribute so much of my growth as a writer to the many conferences that I had with my teachers over those four years. Now, as an English teacher, I try to build multiple opportunities in and out of class to conference with students, so that we develop together an ongoing conversation about how to grow as a writer throughout the year.
What tips would you give to high school students who are trying to find what subject they want to pursue in the future?
I discovered pretty early on that I would pursue English, as it was the subject that both came most naturally to me and that I could not seem to stop thinking about outside of class! My advice is to pay attention to what material you find yourself thinking about on your walk to lunch, or over the weekends. Ask yourself — what assignments do I feel especially inspired or motivated to work on? I always just naturally found myself gravitating towards my writing for English (often not in pursuit of a particular grade but my own level of happiness with my work). Let these kinds of instincts guide you as you narrow your focus academically.
How did you decide to come teach at St. John’s?
When I first moved to Houston to teach after graduating college, I was lucky enough to meet and become good friends with a large group of St. John’s alumni. I was initially struck by how every person within the group was so smart, driven, and personable! Later, I came to understand how their high school experience had laid the foundation for academic and professional success and lifelong friendships. When I started to look at schools while finishing my Master’s, I immediately thought of St. John’s and how inspiring it would be to teach at such a special place.