Shevaughn Watson was born and raised in Grand Rapids. The youngest of four children whose mother often emphasized the importance of education and community involvement, she attended elementary, middle, and high school within the Grand Rapids Public School District.
After graduating from Ottawa Hills High School, she attended The Ohio State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science with a specialization in Human Services. She went on to pursue community work as a county case manager in Columbus, Ohio and as she began to build bonds with her clients, she often found herself engaged in conversations with children about their education. That’s when she realized how many children have low self-esteem about their learning, and lack a sense of belonging.
After a few years, Watson relocated to Ann Arbor and decided that she wanted to make a difference in communities by educating the youth of diverse backgrounds. She started her mission of nurturing her desire to serve students of a diverse population in an education setting as a teaching assistant at Logan Elementary. She enjoyed working with children so much that she completed her master’s degree in elementary education and eventually became a teacher within the Ann Arbor Public School District at Eberwhite Elementary and Carpenter Elementary.
Over the course of thirteen years, she has taught first, second, and third grades at Eberwhite and Carpenter Elementary Schools.
Watson was involved in many leadership roles inside of the school district and within the local community. While serving as the lead teacher at Carpenter Elementary, she eventually decided to pursue her Post-Master’s K-12 certificate in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University.
What was always written on your report card in grade school?
The comment that was always written on my report card in grade school was, “Shevaughn is a kind, hard-working student. She is a natural-born leader and is serious about completing the assignments that we have in class.”
What do you enjoy in your free time?
I truly enjoy spending quality time with my husband of 16 years, family, friends, and two dogs, Milo and Tanner. I am also an avid gardener and can often be found spending hours at a time taking care of my garden in the summertime.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
My third grade teacher Mrs. Ziderveen took an interest in me. She helped to cultivate my love of learning and self-value. Over the years as I embarked on my own path and even after getting my undergraduate degree, becoming an educator has always been a passion that eventually I sought to pursue.
What’s the best compliment anyone could give you?
The best compliment that I have ever received came from a parent. The compliment was I had made a positive impact on how their child viewed their learning. They went on to explain that they appreciated how I provided a varied learning experience for their child.
What makes teaching at Carpenter unique?
Carpenter Elementary School is such a warm and welcoming place. One thing that stands out is the feeling of a family atmosphere. Our staff, parents, guardians, and caregivers work together as a unit to ensure that our school is a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for all of our students.
How do you feel about being named co-principal of the 2022 Summer Learning Institute?
It was truly an honor to be named Co-Principal of the 2022 Summer Learning Institute. I have served in a variety of leadership roles in the past, but this opportunity is something that excites me the most due to the amount of collaboration and high focus on student engagement and achievement for our students.
Describe an average workday.
I typically arrive at school by 8 a.m. When I arrive in my classroom, I check my email and the day’s schedule, review the lesson plans, and ensure all of the materials are ready for each lesson, including technology. I greet all of my students at the door each morning with a greeting and a warm welcome. We begin our day with our morning meeting routines to establish our positive classroom atmosphere. Then we begin our day of highly engaged learning opportunities. A snapshot of our instructional day would include a student-centered approach that includes whole-group activities, small group instruction, and a workshop model. We also do brain breaks/energizers in between all of our learning. Then we end our day with a closing circle.
After school, I enjoy working jointly with my grade-level colleagues and support staff, reflecting on instructional practices and student needs. We partner to ensure that we lesson-plan in a way that will reach all of our students.
What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?
The advice that I would give to a first-year teacher would include:
- Be flexible, and know that it is essential to modify your instruction in order to meet the individual needs of your students.
- Establish and maintain high expectations for all students regardless of their background and personal circumstance.
- Build relationships with your students, families, and staff.
- Establish effective classroom management systems.
- Design your lessons with the end in mind, and teach for mastery.
- Seek out positive mentors, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Be a good listener.
- Be reflective of your teaching practices.
- Continue growing as a learner.
- Make time for family, friends, and self-care.
- Work collaboratively with your grade level team because it provides an opportunity to exchange wonderful ideas to enhance student learning.
What’s the happiest part of your day?
The happiest part of my day is when I greet my students at the beginning of the day. I can be found making a joke or giving them an air high five as they walk in. My goal is to make every child smile before entering the classroom to make sure that I acknowledge their presence and how happy I am to see them every day.
Favorite educational apps and websites:
What do you know about teaching now that you wish you’d known that first year?
The thing that I now know about teaching that I wish I would have known that first year is that it is critical to create and maintain a work-life balance because I pour so much energy into my students.
As a first-year teacher, I wish I had known more about how essential it is to create a balance between work and home. Self-care is a critical component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How do you keep students engaged?
I keep my students engaged by relating lessons to real-life situations. I found over the years that students always want to know how they will use the information they are learning, so I am conscious of that when I deliver a high level of instruction.
I also include a lot of humor in the lessons that I teach. You can often find students laughing at some point in the lesson because learning should be fun, and children learn more when they are having a great time.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching?
The most rewarding part of teaching is witnessing the connections that students make within their learning. It is also exciting to see how students grow as individuals throughout the year. This excitement never gets old, and it constantly reminds me of the importance of this profession.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher?
Teaching is an art; you have to employ various tools and techniques to ensure all of the wonderful minds and personalities in your classroom reach their full potential. Teachers hold a vital role in our society.
How do you recharge?
Any time spent laughing and making new memories with family and friends helps me to recharge. I also enjoy playing games and taking relaxing walks with my two dogs, Milo and Tanner. Being immersed in encouraging words that connect to my faith is also quite relaxing.
How do you spend your summers?
I usually spend my summers engaging in several outdoor activities that include attending to my vegetable garden, reading books, and spending quality time with family and friends.