Rachel Watson was a finance major in her third year of college when the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred, and it made her stop and think about her life. She had always wanted to be a teacher, but changed her mind after she had been talked out of pursuing it.
Watson decided to finish her finance degree. After graduating and working at a mortgage company, she realized she still wanted to be a teacher so she went to Temple University and eventually got her master’s degree in secondary math.
Watson teaches eighth-grade algebra at Elizabeth Davis Middle School, and she said having a finance degree still plays a role in her classes as it helps her students get a broad picture of how math plays a role in their lives.
She taught at Carver Middle for three and a half years but took a six-year hiatus when her second child was born. She eventually found her way back to teaching when her youngest child went to kindergarten.
This is Watson’s second year at Elizabeth Davis, and she said she is constantly evolving and always researching and refining how to teach.
“I enjoy them as young adults because they know enough things to engage with you, but they also sometimes need that person to guide them differently and understand them,” she said. “And I also make them color … we’re not too old for that.”
She said she tries to vary what her students do because nobody wants to just sit in class.
Watson said she loves being able to support her students in another way. Her father died when she was in middle school, and that experience has allowed her to bond with students who were also going through the similar things.
Watson’s father encouraged her to do math. She realized most students don’t have that person to assure them that math is easy because they are usually told it’s hard. She said she tries to be that voice for kids.
The death of her father is partly why Watson went back to teaching. She wanted to be a light for others, and that makes her job. Watson said she tries to create a positive environment, and has motivational quotes on her classroom walls.
“I had a student tell me, ‘Mrs. Watson, you’re just always confetti … you look like confetti, you just are confetti,’ … and that was a huge compliment to me because … nobody wants boring every day, and I’m a colorful liver,” she said. “I couldn’t stand it when this room was plain white. I was like, ‘Let’s bring the color in, let’s brighten it up,’ because I feel like what we have to look at sort of helps to influence how we feel about what we’re doing.”