MERIDIAN, Miss.— Even as a young girl, Abby Watson used to play “school.”
Now, the DeKalb native and elementary education major is being recognized as Mississippi State University-Meridian’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the Division of Education. And, while she won’t yet take over her own classroom as a teacher this coming academic year, she’ll instead continue in school as a student.
“I was afraid if I stopped and went right into teaching, I’d never go back to school,” said Watson, a Summa Cum Laude graduate. “My parents encouraged me to continue my education and attend graduate school full time while I still had the opportunity.”
Watson will be the first to tell you she’s had her life all planned out since attending high school at Kemper Academy.
“My senior year, while my friends were all deciding what they were going to do after high school, I would say, ‘I’m going to graduate from KA, go to East Mississippi Community College’s Scooba Campus and then transfer to MSU-Meridian to become a teacher,’ and that’s what I did,” she said. “I guess the only thing I didn’t have figured out was what would come next.”
Although Watson always knew she wanted a career in education, she recalled an incident that was a defining moment for her during one of her classroom observations for the teacher education program.
“I was in a class and the teacher wanted me to work with a student that was struggling,” Watson said, “and I was to work with him one-on-one on the days that I was there. When the time came for me to move out of that classroom, the teacher expressed how much that student had grown and how I had really helped him. I can’t even describe the feeling that came over me when she told me that. I just know it confirmed for me that this is what God wanted for me – this is what I was meant to do.”
Watson and 22 other senior education majors at MSU-Meridian spent their last semester as student interns in classrooms across the region. Paired with Lisa Gray, a third-grade teacher at Neshoba Central Elementary School, she said she “enjoyed every minute of it.”
“I never once dreaded going to work,” Watson said. “I loved the kids and all their different personalities. Ms. Gray is very caring and respectful toward her students, and, as a result, the students listen and respect her as well. She is also very organized and knowledgeable, and taught me a lot throughout my internship that I’m sure I’ll use in my own classroom one day.”
While her days as an undergraduate have come to a close, Watson is thankful for the time she spent at MSU-Meridian.
“I liked the small campus; it’s what I was used to,” she said. “Knowing everyone in my classes and all my professors, there has been a closeness among us that I don’t think I would have had somewhere else. After taking the summer off, though, I’ll be ready to tackle graduate school this coming fall.”
To learn more about MSU-Meridian, visit www.meridian.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.