For James P. Willis II, Adventist education has been the foundation of his career. Since 1978, he has gathered diverse experience within the context of Adventist education, from the classroom, to leadership, to administration.
As an elementary and high school teacher, Willis taught in New York, Nebraska, and California. He has served as assistant principal at La Sierra Academy and principal and business manager at Los Angeles Union Adventist School and Lynwood Adventist Academy (which later merged, known today as Los Angeles Adventist Academy).
Willis went on to become the superintendent of education for the South Central Conference and the Allegheny East Conference Corporation, serving in that capacity for 16 years. In 2013, Willis returned to the Southern California Conference (SCC) to serve as associate superintendent of education. In this position, he has worked with various K-8 and K-12 schools to offer oversight and support.
As of July 1, 2022, Willis transitions into the role of vice president for education, where he looks forward to continuing to serve our schools and families here in SCC.
My biggest hope is that Adventist education never becomes an education of exclusivity for the haves versus the have nots in our denomination.
“What I enjoy the most about education is relationships with students,” Willis shared. “It has been satisfying to me that, in all my years of teaching and administrating, I have benefited from those relationships. The key thing that has always excited me about education is seeing young people, who have been my students, continue in their path of faithfulness to God, which I believe has launched them into achieving tremendous heights in their personal and professional pursuits.”
When asked about his biggest hope for students in SCC, Willis spoke to the quality and availability of Adventist education. “My biggest hope,” he said, “is that Adventist education never becomes an education of exclusivity for the haves versus the have nots in our denomination.” He aims to maintain the commitment of the Office of Education to provide scholarships and ensure Adventist education is available to our members and their families.
“Being with our students, it’s more than just math, English, science—it’s also the God factor, the Jesus factor,” Willis affirmed. “Everything we do should be with the goal in mind that Jesus Christ becomes real to our kids, preschool through 12th grade, and that education under God’s banner is exciting, it’s fun, it can make for a happy place and an environment they love, which will carry them throughout the rest of their lives.”
In this role, Willis also strives to foster greater collaboration with various offices and departments in the conference to advance the mission and purpose of Adventist education throughout our territory. “It benefits all of us when we are more collaborative in our ministry,” he noted.
Willis has witnessed countless stories of the life-changing impact of Adventist education during his 44 years of service. “I believe in the power of Adventist education—and that’s why I’m in it,” he shared.
By Lauren Lacson