‘We need all the help we can get’

LEAD, S.D. – As a math teacher at Lead-Deadwood High School in South Dakota, Amy Williams said she was “shocked” to learn she was nominated for the Country Music Teacher Classroom Initiative spearheaded by singer Jake Gill. 

Williams, who is from Lusk, was nominated by her mother for CMTCI when Gill performed at the Niobrara County Fair in 2019.

“He’d asked if anybody knew any good teachers and my mom had been at the concert and just said my name,” Williams said. “I think this has been a work in progress, but I didn’t know anything about it till a couple of weeks ago.”

As a beneficiary of CMCTI, Williams’ class will receive a free songwriting session in-person or over Zoom.

“At first I was like, well I teach math not music, but it’ll be cool because maybe we’ll do a math song or something,” Williams said.

“Song writing combines the therapeutic benefits of music with the creative release of bringing our thoughts to words,” Gill said in a press release. “Today’s child is experiencing more stress and trauma on a daily basis, than in times before. To be able to express their thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner is crucial to a thriving development.”

Williams also created an Amazon wish list with classroom supplies that Gill will share on social media. Anyone can purchase items from it and they will be delivered directly to her. 

Teachers struggle to buy classroom supplies any year, but the opportunity to receive donations comes at a crucial time, Williams said, as she and her students prepare to return to school amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. It’s uncertain whether they will begin the school year in person or remotely, so the supplies will help Williams prepare for either scenario.

Items on the list will help Williams whether they are in or out of the classroom this fall, she said. They include graphing paper, rulers, notebooks, a boombox for her students to listen to music and more. 

“We can’t exchange supplies, so I think I would still probably give [items] out to the students,” Williams said. “Because last year I had just a shelf with graph paper and kids would get in line and go grab it. I don’t think I could do that this year. It’s basically trying to help my situation where we have all these new modifications, so I’m just trying to prepare for that.”

At the high school, it’s difficult to have students bring in their own supplies, Williams said. 

“This will just take that burden off,” Williams said.

Williams’ wish list can be found at https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls

“I’m really happy,” Williams said. “If you just donate even one notebook it would be helpful. We need all the help we can get.”


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