Grand Haven High School teacher develops ‘Pay it Forward’ class for seniors

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GRAND HAVEN, Mich., -- Brian Williams is known around Grand Haven High School as the "cool" teacher. And there's good reason.

"He's always there for you," explained senior Garrison Mast."He loves what he does, and he makes us love it even more."

Williams is also well-known there for his a caring heart. Several students even told FOX 17, he's "like a Dad".

And, after 17 years on the job, Williams has found a way to have an even bigger impact on his students. Last winter, he developed a seniors-only class entirely based around the idea of "pay it forward." The curriculum calls for students to get out in the community and give back.

"We visit the Children's Advocacy Center, the People's Center. We go visit Love, Inc., all these non-profits, to gain a sense of what people are struggling with,"
said Williams. "Learning and having a sense of empathy is important, because once you know, you can't un-know."

His students eventually develop their own projects in various areas, to make a difference.

"The compassion he has for pay it forward really spreads on all of us," said Taylor Fase, who's currently in the class."I think I can say that for our whole class. He makes us want to be a better person."

Williams has run the class three times so far, and hopes to develop a curriculum that other schools can adopt. In the meantime, he expects students who have taken the class to continue to do great things

"I hope most of them stay in Grand Haven, but whatever communities they go to, once they go to school and start families, that's me paying it forward," he said. "It'll bring me some sense of accomplishment and pride someday, if I can say hey, I had a hand in what they're doing."

As the April Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Williams will be receiving a $500 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Ron Douglas, our March Pay it Forward Person of the Month.


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