An Interview with… Ann Williams

Continuing our last interview’s trend of interviewing longtime friends of KLU (a great opportunity for us to catch up with Raise the Bar Psychology’s incredible Dr. Kate Jacobs), we got in touch with an invaluable ally, and wonderful person, in the form of Ann Williams.

Ann is… Indescribable. The work she’s done over the years has been truly remarkable, and the support and services that she’s given to us at Kids Like Us have been generous beyond words. She’s got a lot going on with us at the moment, and we’ll let her tell you about that herself!

We can’t express just how much we value Ann as a friend, and we’re very grateful to her for taking the time to talk to us for our latest KLU Q&A…

 

Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ann: I am an ex-chalkie, having taught Maths for over 30 years. I taught in three different countries in different sectors – all girls, all boys, mixed, boarding and day schools. When I retired, I ‘discovered’ dyscalculia which is a developmental disorder like dyslexia. It’s often called ‘maths dyslexia’, as there are similarities between the two.

Q: What inspired you to do the work you do with the Dyslexia and LD Parent Support Group Bayside?

Ann: I’ve seen the concerns and worries that can occur in families who have kids with developmental disorders like dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc., and the effect it can have on kids. Many parents, when their child is initially identified as having a developmental disorder, have no idea where to go to get the help and support they need. There’s an absolute need for a group like ours, and I worked and continue to work to make sure that we’re meeting it.

Q: How did you get to know Kids Like Us?

Ann: I first met Anne Jackson at a conference about 5-10 years ago, and was struck by her passion to help 2e kids. Then, about 5 years ago, Catherine Kirby very kindly offered us the use of the Sandringham premises for our meetings – and for FREE (an offer I couldn’t refuse!)!

Q: Could you tell us a little about the Kids Like Us Bursary Fund, and your role in it?

Ann: Kids Like Us is first and foremost an organisation that exists to support the young people they work with. The Bursary Fund plays a big part in that, as around 40% of KLU students come from lower income backgrounds, or families who for one reason or another find themselves in need of financial support to help their children access the support they need.

To ensure impartiality, KLU established an independent board, staffed entirely by volunteers, to review each application to the Bursary Fund and to allocate support where we can. When Catherine approached me and asked if I’d consider becoming Chair of the Bursary Board, I saw this as an opportunity to make a real difference to the 2e kids that KLU does such wonderful work with.

I am very grateful to the other volunteer members of the Board for their unfailing support and assistance, and also to the other KLU volunteers and friends who contribute their time and effort to raise funds from the community. Without these financial contributions to the Bursary Fund, we would not be able to help families in need.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Bursary Fund, or would like to make a donation, you can do so here.

Q: You’re leading two dyscalculia and low numeracy themed events this October, could you let us know a little about them?

Ann: When I ‘discovered’ dyscalculia it became my passion. So I undertook a Masters in Education which enabled me to delve a bit deeper into the theory of dyscalculia. I also had an article published in the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties.

Over 50% of dyslexics are also likely to have dyscalculia. The problems that they have with Maths are attributed to their dyslexia, so their Maths issues are not addressed. As an ex-Maths teacher, I think this is appalling. Maths is so important. Also, there is little awareness amongst teachers or in the community about dyscalculia, so I am trying to raise awareness about this potentially debilitating disorder.

The first of the two events, Dyscalculia Counts Too, is a full-day session led by myself and KLU’s Lucie Smith. It takes place on Friday, 13th October, and is designed for teachers (K-10) and interested parents. You can find out more about it here.

The second is The Cost of Not Counting, an information evening taking place on Wednesday, 18th October, and led by myself and a brilliant collaborator of mine, Nathalie Parry. This event is designed for parents and others who work with children who have dyscalculia or low numeracy, and can be found here.

Q: What do you do in your downtime?

Ann: What downtime?! I’m retired now and am kept very busy. I am an admin of a very active Facebook group, also I find time to play Bridge twice a week and to exercise regularly.

Q: Can you describe yourself in one word?

Ann: Curious – I like to find out why and how things (and people) work.

Q: If you were a fictional character, which character do you think you’d be – and why?

Ann: Alice (of ‘Alice in Wonderland’). Partly because Charles Dodgson (also known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll!) was a mathematician, but also because so many female protagonists, for example Elizabeth Bennet (protagonist of ‘Pride and Prejudice’) were constrained by their gender, and I would hate that.

Q: What was your favourite book when you were at school?

Ann: Wuthering Heights. So romantic! I grew up in Accrington, which is a disadvantaged part of Lancashire in the North of England, not far from Howarth where the Brontës grew up. So as a teenager, when I walked up on the moors I imagined Heathcliff there, waiting for me!

Q: Finally, what’s been the best thing so far for you about 2017?

Ann: Hearing good news about my husband’s health.

 

If you’d like to know more about Ann, you can meet her at her free monthly Coffee, Cake & Chat mornings held in our rooms at Kids Like Us – the August morning takes place next Friday, 4th August, and you can book in for this morning here. Bookings are completely free, and just to give an idea of numbers!

 

Alex Ashcroft

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