A PUSD Student in the 1980s and 90s, Stacy Williams Has Come Full Circle As the Director of Discovery Gardens Special Education Preschool

By Tara Fort • Photo by Trisha Shaffer

From student to educator, Discovery Gardens Special Education Preschool Director Stacy Williams has lived in Prescott since 1986, having attended Lincoln Elementary, Granite Mountain Middle School, and Prescott High School.

After her high school graduation, Stacy spent two years at Yavapai College where she had the opportunity to be a part of the team that brought the first Northern Arizona University (NAU) satellite campus to Yavapai County, catering to those students who wanted to become educators within the Prescott area without having to travel to Flagstaff for classes.

Shortly after graduating from NAU in 1997 with a degree in Special Education, Stacy began her career with Humboldt Unified School District. She started with Prescott Unified School District in the fall of 2005. She was hired as a Special Education Preschool teacher before becoming Director in 2012, a position she has held since that time.

Stacy jumped right in with growing the Discovery Gardens Preschool program. At the time there were just four and a half classes utilizing five teachers and five aides at Taylor Hicks Elementary. Now, the program has 14 Prescott classrooms with 14 teachers and 16 aides, with classrooms located at Abia Judd, Lincoln, and Taylor Hicks Elementary Schools and at the district office, which was previously Washington Elementary.

Stacy said, “Growth of the Prescott program has been so beneficial to the families of young children, but it also makes for a very busy program! Our youngest learners have access to highly qualified teaching staff who use developmentally appropriate practices to teach through exploration in a safe learning envelopment. Using the Arizona Early Learning standards and a personal touch of creative themes and investigations, the teachers create a whole new world within their classrooms. There is truly nothing like it.”

“Stacy Williams has been such an important part of our PUSD culture of Every Child Every Day,” said District Superintendent Joe Howard. “A Badger alumni, she has been in her position for over a decade and has grown our preschool exponentially. She is a visionary and a community builder and she has given thousands of kids a great start in their often 14-year involvement in our district.”

Stacy said she is proud to be a part of the district: “PUSD has created a culture of collaboration among staff, students, and families within the town and its surrounding communities. All our sites at every location demonstrate an attitude of welcome and safety. Discovery Gardens is an inclusive program where students with and without disabilities are blended together into classrooms that foster growth and unity.”

She added, “It is an amazing feeling when entering into any classroom to see how magical the preschool teachers really are. I absolutely love what I do! My days are ever-changing with something new to love, and experiences from which to ponder and learn.”

For more information about Stacy Williams and the Prescott Unified School District, visit www.prescottschools.com