Pauline Williamson is somewhat of a Renaissance woman.
She’s a teacher at UTPB STEM Academy, a seminarian and an artist.
Williamson teaches freshman world geography and government for seniors and she also has a special topics and social studies course.
“Special topics and social studies class is designed basically to allow students to focus on using their critical thinking skills to understand multiple different aspects of issues that have shaped their culture and also look at it from multiple points of view. …,” Williamson said.
“What we are doing in order to accomplish that is we are looking at local government and how local government works …,” she said.
Williamson wants students to come out of her class with a better grasp of how to use critical thinking skills when they engage in political issues, especially locally, and have a better idea on how they can help impact the way their community is governed.
She had taught science and Texas history for fourth graders before, but found that some of the things that engaged her are probably more suited for high school students.
“We can have the big questions like we’ve talked about how a society can preserve and perpetuate its values and we’ve talked about what values are … how are the rights and freedoms of individuals are protected in a democratic society and why is that question even important. What is it about democracy that might have a negative effect on rights and freedoms of individuals. Fourth-graders can talk about a lot of that, but you can go deeper into it with the high schoolers, especially when they’re prepared to basically step out and be the people that are actively shaping our society and our culture. I just like getting them thinking. I love science, but I love social studies, as well,” Williamson said.
She earned a degree in religion from McMurry University with a minor in Greek. She went to Candler School of Theology in Atlanta for three years and is now working on her master’s in divinity from there.
She got her teaching certificate in 2012. She was a paraprofessional at Dowling Elementary School for two years. Williamson taught fifth grade reading, then moved to Houston and taught science for a year. She then went to seminary for three years and came back. She has been teaching at the STEM Academy ever since.
Williamson never expected to become a teacher.
“My grandmother was a teacher; my mother was a teacher and I never wanted to be a teacher except that I really like teaching. Education and empowering people with knowledge and information and the ability to think clearly, to me, if you’re looking at ways that you’re going to change the world, being an educator is a huge way to do just that,” Williamson said.
She tells her students to be careful when things are boring, because sometimes people don’t want you to pay attention. However, she said the students are very engaged when they are watching a city council meeting, for example.
Williamson attends Connection Christian Church. Her parents are Ed Williamson and Mary Elaine Williamson. She has two brothers, Mark and David, two sisters-in-law who are “amazing,” and a niece who is her “pride and joy.”
“I have a really strong relationship with God. I’ve been called into ministry. Sometimes we have a very narrow view of what ministry looks like in this country. Back in the 2000s, I was living in California and i was a project manager and I was very successful. I was reading an investment book on a flight home that said you needed to invest your time and your money where your values were,” Williamson said.
God and family are the two most important things to Williamson.
“But I was states away from my family and it’s not that I was doing anything bad, I was just a project manager, but I also wasn’t necessarily serving God. So I came back, got my degree in religion and have been doing teaching. When I was teaching down in Houston, I was doing religious posts and it was one of those things in order to do things the right way I need to have more education, so I went to seminary at Candler,” Williamson said.
While at Candler, she started creating art in a more directed way.
“For a long time, I kind of thought I was just doodling …,” Williamson said.
Instead of taking notes during lectures, she would draw. She can also do that for events.
“Most of my art is religious in nature,” Williamson said. She strives to communicate the message of God in a way that “you don’t have to speak a certain language, you don’t have to be able to read; the story is here.”
She added that she has a distinctive style and has been branching out into paintings. Her computer tablet was a birthday present to herself. She has made art for book covers, as well.
“As you can see, in a lot of my artwork representation matters. One of the things I like to do with my work is lift up people whose voices have not necessarily been traditionally represented, which is why I draw the people I do. Stained glass is one of the big influences on my artwork. Tattoos were a big influence …,” Williamson said.
The Rev. Dawn Weaks, co-pastor of Connection Christian Church, said Williamson has a deep commitment to all of scripture; not just the well-known stories, “but the whole witness of scripture, especially the people that don’t often get much play and that inspires the artwork.”
“We’re, of course, honored to have Pauli at our church and the music that Pauli leads and the way that at any given moment there’s Pauli with her artwork in hand working on a new piece. That’s inspiring,” Weaks said.
In her private life, Williamson works with the Pride Center of West Texas.
“I’m actually the vice president of the board and I co-facilitate the youth group, so to me it’s very important. It’s great to be a part of it myself, but really, again, lifting up people who have been traditionally under represented or whose voices have not always been heard it’s very important to me for that to happen. I like to keep a balance,” she said.
Pauline Williamson is somewhat of a Renaissance woman.