Summer Williams, originally from South New Jersey, has been working at the school for 18 years and is now the Interim Dean of Students for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Williams enjoys listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff’s DJ sets and is involved in a theatre company. One of her favorite playwrights is Ntozake Shange.
What is your current role and how is that different from what you did before?
My former position was Associate Dean, so I have a bit more responsibility school wide. As the dean for the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, I am responsible for managing the flow of school and supporting every student in 115. I am able to give a little bit more of myself to the school community and really think about what are all the ways I might be able to have a positive impact.
What was your best experience from theatre?
When I was in college, one of the things I learned was that if there’s an opportunity to fill in a gap, do whatever you can to make that happen. There was not a lot of theatre being offered that felt like it was speaking to me directly, so I decided to direct a show in the basement of a cafe and create a piece that I thought would be appealing to folks in my demographic. And the school was like, ‘oh, yeah, we want to support that’, so they gave me some funding to do it. That was a big game changer for me. It’s not just about theatre, it’s about an approach to life. Do we see an opportunity for improvement? Do we see a chance to make something better? Do we see a chance to work together with other people toward a greater vision?
Why is theatre important to you?
Theater is the way I understand and make sense of the world around me. It helps people to see and understand individual stories like where people come from. It helps us to process things and helps us to care about one another. I know that when I’m working on a play, I get to do that. I know, when I’m working here at schools, I get to do that. I’d love for us to be able to do much more of that all the time.
Night owl or an early bird?
I am not an early bird. Definitely more of a night owl. Often when I’m directing plays, I’m directing into the night. I’ll finish rehearsal at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. Then I’m still sort of excited about whatever happened at rehearsal, so my brain is racing, and then it’s hard to go to sleep.