Antoinette Williams (then Thibou) in Navy uniform next to current-day Williams sporting West Valley Middle School gear.

Students in Antoinette Williams’ seventh-grade social studies class spent a portion of this week writing cards to veterans as a way to enhance the lessons they’re learning in the classroom.

As they talked about veterans and active military in their own families, they learned that their very own teacher served the country.

In 1990, Williams decided to enlist in the military with a dear friend, and after meeting with a recruiter, she chose to join the Navy.

She attended boot camp in October of that year and finished in time to be home for Christmas. 

“One of the best experiences was when we graduated and went to Orlando. We got to be in our uniforms, so everyone knew we were military,” Williams said. “We didn’t have a lot of badges or pins, so everybody knew we were new, but everyone was so friendly.”

Other memories were “not as fun,” like midnight watch duty or working in the galley of the ship, but all of her experiences gave her a strong work ethic that she carries over into the classroom.

When she left the military after nearly four years of service, she went back to school, but didn’t initially get a degree in education.

“I think I always wanted to be a teacher, but I was a communications major for undergrad,” she said. “Once I started working with children more, I just one day said, ‘I think I want to be a teacher,’ out loud. I applied to the UT teaching program, and I’ve been doing this for 23 years.”

All these years later, Veterans Day still means so much to Williams, especially with several family members who have also served. She still gets emotional remembering how proud her father-in-law was to be a veteran of the country. 

“I know a ton of veterans and their families that put their whole heart into it every day,” Williams said. “We need to think about them more than just on Veterans Day. We need to think about them almost every day because the reason that we have our freedoms is because somebody is not with their family and they’re defending us in whatever way possible.”

KCS celebrated veterans, Guard members, and reservists at the Honoring Service Ceremony earlier this week, where a video featuring several KCS veterans was premiered for the first time. The full video is shown below.

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