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Reared in a family of educators from Gulfport, Mississippi, Dr. Thea H. Williams-Black is a life-long learner who is passionate about education and the impact a quality education has on all children.  As former Dean and Professor of Education at her alma mater, Tougaloo College, Thea had the opportunity to grow the minds of pre-service teachers, providing them with research-based strategies, skills, and techniques to utilize in our ever-changing classrooms. 


Thea received a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Tougaloo College and a Master of Education in Elementary Education and Gifted Education from William Carey University. After teaching several years in the K-6 classroom, Thea returned to school full-time to obtain a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction- Literacy Education from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS.  


After, obtaining a doctorate degree, Thea began her higher education career at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA as an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education and Director of the Summer Gifted Program. After, teaching at Nicholls State University, Thea moved to Williamsburg, VA to become the Director of PreCollegiate Learner Programs and an Adjunct Professor in Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary.  


Having a desire to return back to Mississippi, Dr. Williams-Black was afforded the opportunity to teach undergraduate and graduate courses at The University of Mississippi in the School of Education, Department of Teacher Education.

Earning tenure and promotion while at the University of Mississippi, Thea also developed the School of Education’s first online program, a Master of Education in Literacy Education.  


While the Department Chair and Professor of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Jackson State University, Dr. Williams-Black raised $175,000 in a year and half span to revitalize the esthetics of the department, enhance the resources for faculty and students, and provide scholarships for students in Elementary Education. 

Thea is a contributor to Literacy Education where she has published several manuscripts on literacy, diversity, social studies, gifted and technology. She currently has co-authored three books, two book chapters and numerous peer reviewed journal articles.


Thea is the wife of to Terrence D. Black and mother of Thea Emerson.

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"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think" 

Margaret Mead

About GEMS

GEMS is the brain-child of Mrs. RoseMary Hayes Williams. Mrs. Williams was an educator for over 30 years and was one of the first teachers in Mississippi to pilot kindergarten.


When Mrs. Williams retired from education, her daughter, Thea, followed in her footsteps and began her career in education.  As Thea’s career advanced in education, she knew she would excel because of the foundation received in her undergraduate program at Tougaloo College.  Most importantly, she knew she was excelling from the one-on-one mentoring she was receiving first-hand every day from her mother, Mrs. RoseMary Hayes Williams.


As Thea would share her experiences with her mother; her mother would remind her that teaching is about Growing Educational Minds for Success. 

Our Mission
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