Vanessa Hayes-Williams for PLSD Board

October 25, 2021
Pickerington Online’s Meet the Candidates

“Discipline should be a last resort in the Pickerington Local School District (PLSD) and redirecting behavior through social and emotional strategies should be the goal towards developing an equitable climate and culture that produces scholars, communities and neighbors,” said candidate for school board Vanessa Hayes-Williams.

Hayes-Williams wants to work with the district to strengthen communication with families and improve upon the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) systems that teach kids how they are expected to behave rather than punishing them for not meeting those expectations.

As a member of the PLSD Citizen Advisory Committee, she learned that the district had challenges regarding “equitable discipline”.  The group offered the district “big ideas” on how to improve across all levels – board, district and building. These ideas included hiring staff that reflect the diverse cultures of the students, developing accountability systems to measure the effectiveness of professional development training, and developing mindfulness/meditation spaces for students and staff in each school and district department.

“These experiences for me enhanced and expanded upon the conversations that I had with my family, neighbors, and various community stakeholders,” Hayes-Williams said. “The work that we began however is not done. I strongly believe that more collaborative work is needed.”

She wants the district to establish an online dashboard quantifying academic success, attendance, discipline and training. She is most passionate about helping the distinct to find new ways (in addition to advisory committees and parent-teacher-student organizations) for parents and community members to become involved with teaching and advocating for the students. This would lead students to become responsible citizens and to find career pathways within their community. 

Furthermore, she would like the district to consider the behavior-error model of distinguishing between major and minor behavioral infractions and responding to each disruption with the question, “What’s Driving the Behavior” rather than issuing a quick punishment. 

Hayes-Williams has already started working with the district to develop a technological fix to the identification system of whether a student’s behavior should be categorized as a victim or as an offender.  The district is currently working with Infinite Campus to decode reports and develop more respectful identifiers for school behavior errors while also reducing barriers to career readiness options.   

She wants to schedule time into staff schedules for sending emails and/or making calls to parents to inform them when their child does something positive.   She practices a 360-degree approach to communication and encourages families to likewise send encouragement to educators and school leaders.  To reward such efforts, Hayes-Williams would like to see staff members who significantly reduce their discipline and disparity rates compensated.

Hayes-Williams said that working on the advisory committee has inspired and positioned her as “a voice for the greater good” and forced her to evaluate how residents of the PLSD can, ‘Rethink Success Together” to better tell our Tiger & Panther stories. The district can continue to build unity platform, with collaborative work, that can serve as a springboard to propel the PLSD forward.”

She said that she is “looking for an opportunity to serve as a part of the solution with the PLSD board and that our solidarity, unity of purpose, and shared passion will help the PLSD to develop stronger processes, policies and structures which will ultimately provide greater accountability, transparency, and equitable services for each of our students. Collectively, we can expand the district’s education pathways in a way that reaches each of the communities that the district serves.”

Hayes-Williams is “excited about ‘Rethinking Tomorrow Together!’ and believes that “we can build bridges that expand upon the traditions of success that the community has become known for because…We are Pickerington!”

Hayes-Williams has received endorsements from the Pickerington Education Association (PEA), the Central Ohio Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the Matriots Political Action Committee, and the Franklin County Democratic Party.

What do people say about Vanessa Hayes-Williams?

Kelly Livingston used to work with Hayes-Williams.

“To someone who hasn’t met Vanessa, I would describe her as vibrant, compassionate and intelligent,” Livingston said. “Vanessa’s best quality is her drive and determination to see things through.

Livingston believes that Hayes-Williams would be good for the school board because she genuinely cares about the well-being of children.

“Her passion for education and fostering the growth and development of children is to be admired,” Livingston said. “I have no doubt that she will bring that same drive, determination and passion for betterment to your school board.”

Who is Vanessa Hayes-Williams?

Hayes-Williams continues to serve as an educational advocate that prides herself on bringing equitable learning experiences to all.  Vanessa is a passionate educational visionary that believes in fostering a shared leadership approach that is key to personal enrichment, citizenship, and connection.  

The evidence of this is reflected in her own pathways of conferred degrees from Indiana University, Indiana Wesleyan, and her current doctoral candidacy work focused on education leadership and management. Her strength in family engagement is equally shared by her community advocate husband, Carl Williams, their high schooler, college daughter and two college graduate children.   

She possesses strong social and emotional learning competencies that help to further her advocacy work which involve equitable discipline, understanding the impact of trauma in school climates, supporting all cultures, and developing stronger scholar-athletes. Her Teamsters legacy and strong family values have afforded her the ability to provide fundamentally sound recommendations to public organizations.  

Hayes-Williams has more than 30 years of working within the public sector in professional development, organizational change, and program management on the behalf of the public good.  Her service profile includes adult corrections, community development, social welfare, and education. 

Her volunteer efforts include serving in school district leadership, advocating for students with disabilities, and coaching both social and emotional learning. She has been a Freedom School Literacy partner, educator, caregiver, and a concerned citizen.  

Pickerington Online does not endorse any candidates or issues.