Over the last decade, Mike Williams' career has taken him from the blacktops and gymnasiums where he taught children physical education to the principal's chair at Amador Valley High School all the while staying in the Bay Area, where he was born and raised.
Williams grew up in San Carlos and saw his passion for teaching start to take hold as a high school senior tutoring peers to fulfill a community service requirement.
"I remember helping explain a basic problem, and to see the look on their face when they realized they finally understood it, and I was the one helping them through it, it triggered, 'This is such a great feeling, I enjoy this,'" Williams, who is in his 30s, said. "That started my thought process about going into education."
That thought process has culminated with Williams' appointment to the top post at Amador Valley High in the spring. Then a vice principal at Amador, Williams served as interim principal for the last two months of the 2015-16 school year before formally taking over July 1. Williams replaced Tom Drescher, who left for another job.
Once Williams realized his interest in pursuing a career in education, he enrolled at Chico State University, where he gained more inspiration for becoming a teacher.
"When I was in college I took an art history course, and it wasn't truly a class I was excited to sign up for at the time," Williams said. "But after experiencing the class and the teacher and the passion, it just made it very clear that was my calling. I knew I wanted to work with students and I wanted to help."
After getting his bachelor's degree, Williams returned to the Bay Area to teach in the county he grew up in. He spent several years teaching physical education at Peninsula schools and along the way obtained his master's degree in educational management and administrative credential from San Francisco State University.
Then Williams transitioned into the administrative side of schools, taking a vice principal position at a middle school in Half Moon Bay. After four years there, he was offered a vice principal post at Amador Valley in spring 2014.
The job offer prompted Williams' family to make the move to Livermore, closer to Williams' brother, an aunt and uncle and other relatives.
"That was the one challenge of coming out here the only thing I ever knew as far as my home was all in San Carlos," Williams said. "We sold our house, my mom sold her house that she's owned for 37-plus years and moved over here. It was a big family transition so we could set roots here."
Now Williams' latest transition is into the role of Amador's head administrator. One of the challenges he says he has faced initially has been that 25 teachers about a fifth of the staff are new to the school this year. That's meant ensuring they all have the support they need so they'll eventually become "long-term veterans," Williams said.
The teachers at Amador are just a part of what Williams has grown to appreciate about the school.
"The overall desire of students to succeed, the commitment of teachers to provide the best possible education for students," Williams said when asked what appealed to him about being principal. "It's a very comfortable place to be because the staff here makes you feel welcome."
When Williams isn't at the school, he said he enjoys spending time with family, including his wife and two young children, and going to concerts and sporting events.
Williams makes $144,508 as principal of Amador Valley, located at 1155 Santa Rita Road.