MURRAY, Ky. — Barbra Watson was working a job she truly enjoyed, teaching at a church pre-school in Henderson. She started off as an assistant teacher and, when the lead teacher took another job, received the opportunity to move up into that position. In that role, she enjoyed planning lessons and activities for her class while getting to know the children and their families. She liked it so much, in fact, that the position solidified her decision to go back to college to earn her bachelor’s degree in education.

Watson made the difficult decision to leave her job and pursue a degree in learning and behavior disorders with an emphasis on elementary education at Murray State University’s Henderson campus.

“It had always been a dream of mine to go to college and obtain a teaching degree after all my children were old enough to go to school,” said Watson. “When my daughter began Kindergarten, I resigned my position. Although it was difficult for me to leave, I knew that it was time to begin my journey toward a career in education.”

Watson proceeded to balance her time between school, a husband and three children, and she said she had to be creative in terms of juggling all of her responsibilities. Thankfully, her husband and children have provided her with support, and her youngest child has enjoyed giving input on lesson plans.

Watson came to Murray State with an associate degree from Henderson Community College (HCC). When thinking about pursuing her dream and obtaining a bachelor’s degree, she looked at various colleges nearby, but Murray State was an easy choice for several reasons.

“Murray State University is a great school with a reputation for excellence, and I knew that I would get a high-quality education. I also wanted to complete my practicum hours and student teaching here in our local school district,” said Watson.

Taking classes at the Henderson campus proved to be convenient for Watson. Not only was she able to complete almost all of her classes in Henderson, she was also familiar with the campus since it shares a location with HCC. In fact, the two schools have a partnership that makes it easy to transfer from HCC to Murray State in Henderson.

During her time at Murray State’s Henderson campus, she was fortunate to have learned from “phenomenal educators” while making connections within the local school district, where she eventually hopes to work. She credits many faculty and staff members for helping her throughout her experience, especially when her mother passed away during her junior year.

“All of my instructors were very understanding and supportive during this difficult time,” she said. “Throughout the program as a whole, both Shirley Wathen and Donna Hendricks were wonderful sources of encouragement. Former Director Mike Freels and current Director Heather Roy were also amazingly helpful.”

On May 12, the College of Education and Human Services will award Watson with the Outstanding Scholarship in Learning Behavior Disorders for the highest GPA.

After Watson receives her bachelor’s on May 13 and finishes the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program, she plans to work toward a master’s degree in special education or literacy as well as national board certification.

“As I begin teaching, my desire is to find and implement strategies that will help maximize the learning outcomes for each of my students, and to help them develop the social and functional skills they need to be successful,” said Watson.

Complete information on the May 2017 Commencement ceremony, as well as #RacerGraduation stories, can be found at murraystate.edu/commencement.