SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The students and staff at Van Duyn Elementary School don’t miss an opportunity to show off their school spirit. You’ll often hear Principal Eva Williams do a call-and-response with the kids. She’ll say to them, “When I say Cha Cha, you say” and the students will respond with, “Champs!”
Williams has been principal there for eight years. Her mission is to ensure everyone here feels a sense of pride. “You walk into this building, you see it,” Williams explained. “You see it on the walls, you see the work the students do.”
Van Duyn once had priority status, meaning it was among the lowest five percent, based on performance in mathematics and English language arts in New York. It’s now in good standing. Williams shared how the school was able to transform. She said, “We did things to encourage our parent engagement. We brought in a variety of community partners that brought in different talents, gifts and opportunities for our students.”
These are reasons the vice principal nominated Williams for Elementary School Principal of the Year. “Principal Williams embodies so much of what courageous leadership looks like and i just felt like it was necessary for her to be recognized,” said Dr. Reba Y. Hodge, Van Duyn Elementary School Vice Principal.
Williams found out she was selected by the School Administrators Association of New York State last week. The community has been showing its appreciation ever since. The school, which is situated on the South Side where the headlines often tell the story of crime, has an important lesson for everyone here from Principal Williams. “Your zip code does not determine your future,” Williams said.