Samantha Williams has a knack for numbers, so much so that the eighth-grader from Paul R. Smith Middle School already has completed her high school math credits. In addition to scoring straight A's in her regular middle school classes, Samantha, 13, has high school geometry, algebra II and pre-calculus all under her belt through courses taken via the Florida Virtual School. Now she's taking AP calculus and mulling over a class in statistics.
She's also the only student in Paul R. Smith Middle School's history to score 100 percent on both her algebra and geometry end of course exams. On a side note, she holds a second-degree black belt in karate.
"She's every teacher's dream," said Smith Middle teacher Mary Moss, who taught Samantha in her algebra I honors class. "She always had her work done on time. Her work was beautiful. …What really impressed me most was her self motivation and her strive for excellence. When she got something wrong, she wanted to know why she got it wrong and how to fix it. She's awesome."
She's smarter than smart, according to her friend, Huong Le, 13.
"I think she's a robot. That's my theory," Huong said, with a laugh. "She'll accomplish things most people won't."
Math may come easier for her than most, but Samantha is also driven, said her mother, Julie Wu-Williams, noting that her daughter learned to write her name — first and last — when she was just 3 years old.
"B's are unacceptable to her," said Wu-Williams, who works as a language arts teacher at Smith Middle. "She has a syllabus for her classes, and she's always at least a month ahead, just waiting to turn in her work. I'll get up in the middle of the night, and I'll see her light on because she's up doing school work. I'll have to remind her, 'It's time to go to bed.' "
And she does, albeit a bit grudgingly. "I'm pretty much a perfectionist," Samantha said. "I just want to keep going till I get it perfect."