Former Gibbs teacher overcomes the odds and writes book


ST. PETERSBURG — Charley Williams, author of “Overcoming the Odds – No Excuses – Find a Way,” has lived a life many might think to be unattainable, however, when hearing him speak about from where he came, you can’t help but feel anything is possible.

Undeterred by meager beginnings, he overcame adversity and rose to the top over and over again. He began his teaching career at Gibbs High School and eventually become the principal of several area schools over the years.

A product of a broken home, Williams grew up in the housing projects of a rural community in Florida with his mother who held two jobs to make ends meet.

“My mother made a lot of sacrifices; she had less so I could have more. She dedicated her life to me,” explained Williams.

He credits his mother and fourth grade teacher, Thomas Payne from Cookman Elementary in Jacksonville, for instilling in him inspiration, the importance of a good education and a positive attitude.

“My mother was talking about education from the time I left the womb,” he laughed.

With each mention of how his life has evolved, Williams got more excited. Sharing his story creates a platform for the endless possibilities in store for children in underserved communities.

From failing first grade to skipping past the sixth grade to graduating college and becoming a principal and educational leader, his story comes full circle and brings along the reader by offering a glimpse of his life through his new book.

Many in his neighborhood followed suite when they saw what a success he had become. From heading off to Florida A&M University to earning his bachelor’s degree in Spanish and French, to receiving a graduate degree from New York University, to continuing his studies at Rutgers and Princeton and the University of Paris, many of them used him as an inspiration and became successful, contributing members of society.

“Overcoming the Odds – No Excuses – Find a Way,” is a testimonial to what perseverance and a good attitude can do despite one’s socio-economical background.

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