November 14, 2018 – Key West, FL. Key West Art & Historical Society Education Director Adele Williams To Pass Torch
After three years of upward momentum, Key West Art & Historical Society’s Education Director Adele Williams will step down from her position at the end of this month. With more than two decades of experience as an educator in a multitude of environments and a vision of enhancing the Society’s community involvement around its various programs that educate and entertain visitors and locals about Key West’s art, architecture, and history, Williams brought a vital initiative to the Society.
“Over the last 3 years, we’ve reached 22k people through educational programs—Parent & Me programs, the Distinguished Speaker Series, collaboration with National Parks Service to bring photography workshops to the Dry Tortugas, tours to Cuba, STEM programs in relation to Flagler’s bridges, Civil War Days outreach in the schools with the State Park Service, and educational outreach based on outsider artist Stanley Papio and Mario Sanchez— to name a few,” she says. “My ultimate goal was to reach all levels of the community— toddlers through adults— which I think we’ve effectively done.”
Williams stepped into a position that was defunct and “had to start from scratch.” Her youth-focused initiatives included educational programming for schools aligned to state standards and the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational initiative spearheaded by the federal government, specific programming for special needs and at-risk children, environmental programs, school outreach programs that include visiting authors, artists and a traveling exhibit series, and scholarships to support those in need.
“Bringing dynamic educational programs to Keys youth and working with the children themselves was the highlight,” she says. “Listening to them articulate their knowledge of the history and culture of the Florida Keys assures me that the pragmatic approach that I’ve taken to education the last three years has come to fruition.”
“And the gamut of academic experts, authors and artists- both national and local- that I met— Fidel Castro’s daughter Elena Fernandez, Arthur Rothstein’s daughter Ann Rothstein-Segan, who toured every public school in the Florida Keys with our outreach program, B&H Photography and National Parks at Night Photographers Gabriel Biderman and Tim Cooper, to name a few- was extraordinary.”
Memorable moments include traveling through the limestone-cast country of Vinales “on the Cuba Uber, an ox-drawn cart” with a slew of photographers, meandering through the corridors of Fort Jefferson at 4am during the night photography weekend workshop at Fort Jefferson, and creating history-themed camps held at Fort East Martello with “my extremely talented” staff Crystal Smith, Rick “Deadeye” Wheelus, and Kevin Lisinski.
“One person doing the education for multiple museums was challenging,” says Williams, reflecting on months where the Society would be holding 31 educational programs in a 30-day period. “But the privilege of having access to these facilities outweighed the challenge, as was having a continued impact on the area’s children through our programming, watching them develop a sound understanding of Keys history and gaining a true ownership of their islands and museums,” says Williams.
“We applaud Adele for her work rebooting the Society’s Education Department, creating dynamic and creative programs for young and adult learners,” says Society Executive Director Michael Gieda.“The Society wishes her and Shawn great success in their future travels and endeavors.’
Williams and husband Shawn Cowles will now begin their research and development of world heritage sites throughout Mexico, Central, and South America to create educational tours, a business they hope to launch in the coming years. Williams says she hopes her department will continue to flourish and “that a new perspective will bring a fresh approach.”
“Everyone at the Society brings their own strengths to help bolster the organization. I certainly hope that mine have, too,” she says.
For more information about the Society’s many educational programs, visit kwahs.org or call 305.295.6616. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
Photo Caption: Adele Williams, who has served as Education Director for Key West Art & Historical Society the past three years, is about to embark with her husband Shawn Cowles on a Mexico, Central America and South America tour by motorbike.