New leadership changes to Williams High School begins with the new principal, Dr. Mary Ponce.
Ponce, however, is not looking to reinvent the wheel. She said she intends get to know what the current programs are offering, what the previous administration has been building on, so she can sustain them. The fact that the district can boast a 100 percent graduation rate and the dual college enrollment intrigued her. “That really attracted me, the multiple pathways and some of the innovations that this school was doing,” said Ponce, about her reason to apply for the next level in her career evolution.
Ponce began her educational career in Fairfield Suisun as a bilingual paraeducator. Originally she was going to school to become a lawyer but after obtaining the teaching job, her journey took an unexpected turn.
“I went for it, got the job, and I got the bug, and I didn’t look back,” said Ponce, “I fell in love and knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Ponce is a California native but a first generation college graduate. As an administrator, she had 14+ years experience and then spent another 13 years in Davis as a principal for two different schools in a small district. Meanwhile, Ponce serve on many committees at the district office, helping them to build programs and policies, becoming one of the most veteran and tenured administrators before coming on to Williams.
With a background from transitional kindergarten to sixth grade, Ponce said that it was time to continue on in her journey.
“I thought it would be a phenomenal experience, an adventure, come out with the big kids,” said Ponce, “I guess they liked me and what I had to offer, they took a chance and gave me the job. It’s been exciting, I’m loving it.”
Ponce said her first goal is to build relationships with community, students, and staff, and ultimately develop a full understanding of have a background of tk all the way to 12
“I want to have that breadth and depth of understanding of the whole system because eventually I want to lead my own school district,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to be a superintendent. Williams Jr/Sr. High is giving me that opportunity. At the same time, being Latina, being bilingual, knowing background and demographics for the school, it seems like a good fit for us to continue the good work that this school had started.”
Ponce said the high school has some great programs and one of the things they do well is all their students graduate. She wants to impress the importance of culture and climate by getting feedback, especially from the students. She anticipates giving student surveys and focus groups to ascertain if students feel connected, if they feel challenged, and other elements of how they see their education.
Ponce said the staff has been very welcoming and that the fit is a natural one.
“I have a good feeling of this match and I think I was meant to be here and it will be reciprocated,” Ponce said. “I think we’re going to be a real good team.”
Curious by nature, Ponce said she is asking, “Why are we doing the things we’re doing? Do they make sense for children? At the end of the day, we’re here for the youth. I’m excited to team up with Williams and do good work for our youth.” ■