From left, Dr. Joel Barnes, supervisor Secondary Education; Dr. Jeff Elliott, chief academic officer; Autumn O'Bryan, CHS principal; Ben Williams; Renny Whittenbarger, supervisor of CTE; and Dawn Robinson, CCS Board of Education chairman
Cleveland City Schools announces that Cleveland High School Robotics teacher Ben Williams was named the Tennessee Secondary/Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Association for Career and Technical Education. Mr. Williams began teaching at Cleveland High School in 2013 and quickly became an influential educator in the Cleveland City Schools CTE program, said officials.
Mr. Williams has a heart for humanity and service. His class designed and constructed the Malachi Project, a wheelchair device that has the ability to move around and interact with sensory devices mounted on a wheelchair for Malachi, a special needs individual in the community. After finishing the Malachi Project, Mr. Williams’ team was inundated with similar requests which have blossomed into a joint venture with Malachi's family to identify and support as many similar mobility needs that can be addressed by robotics teams. Mr. Williams’ team has successfully matched a family from Missouri to a robotics team in St. Louis and launched a website with documentation and resources named themalachimovement.com. They have almost all of the donated parts to design and build three new "Wild Thing" projects for local families who have children with similar mobility needs.
Dr. Russell Dyer, director of schools, said, “Mr. Williams is a dynamic classroom leader and he works tirelessly to push his students to think in imaginative ways. He excels at drawing nothing but the best from his students. I appreciate his dedication to our students both inside and outside of the classroom."
Mr. Williams encourages students to serve others. He has led humanitarian relief trips to Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Argentina with students. The teams have engineered and built aquaponic systems for underprivileged communities in these countries. The trips are a life changing experience for his students, said officials.
This year Mr. Williams started the First Robotics Team at Cleveland High School. The team received funding from industry leaders and won the Inspiration Rookie of the Year Award in their first competition. Mr. Williams was voted by his peers as Cleveland High School Teacher of the Year in 2016. He has served as a coach for the cross country and track teams. He is also an adjunct faculty member of Cleveland State Community College.
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Lee University with a master’s degree from The Citadel. He and his wife, Cassie, live in Cleveland with their two daughters and son.