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Donna Watson
Dean, School of Education


Teaching is the best profession, and I have always been a teacher. I graduated from Big Creek High School (highlighted in the movie October Sky) and couldn’t forget my wonderful teachers from elementary, junior high, and high school.  After graduating from Bluefield College with a BA in English and a mathematics minor, I taught mathematics in middle school for 16 years in McDowell County, West Virginia.  In the summers, I worked providing professional development throughout West Virginia with teams from the West Virginia Department of Education.  I was also active in the WVCTM (West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and was state president of that organization in 1999-2000. I loved teaching middle school math and Algebra; I wrote grants for computers, manipulatives, and resources because the school was in an area of poverty.

When I moved to Mercer County, West Virgina, I worked for a textbook resource company, Creative Publications and traveled around the region setting up displays and training teachers in the curriculum.  At the same time, I began work as an adjunct instructor in education at Bluefield College, working for my mentor from my college days, Dr. Gerald Clay.  Eventually I went to Virginia Tech to work on my doctorate degree, and when I finished, I become a full time assistant professor at Bluefield College.  When Dr. Clay retired, I became the director and then the Dean of the School of Education when we established the Master of Arts in Education, adding an online degree to our traditional teacher education program.

In the summer of 2017, I moved to Bristol, TN, and accepted the position to become the Dean of the School of Education.  Teaching new teachers and guiding the School of Education provide challenges and always daily joy.  I’m so blessed to be working with such fine faculty in education and wonderfully idealistic young people who are called to be teachers.

I enjoy cooking and feeding people, listening to stories, telling stories, playing the piano (especially for church), gardening, and exploring Appalachia. And I keep a daily gratitude journal where I thank God for His guidance and love.

Another favorite verse is from Proverbs 3:5-6,Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (Mathematics Education) 2005
    • Virginia Tech, University, Blacksburg, VA
    • Dissertation: Learning Mathematics in Central Appalachia: Life Histories of Beginning Elementary Teachers
  • Master of Science (Secondary Education) 1983
    • Radford University, Radford, VA.
  • Bachelor of Arts (Major:  English; Minor:  Mathematics and Education) 1980
    • Bluefield College, Bluefield, VA
    • Summa Cum Laude
Recent Publications and Presentations

2016 – Presented “Social Media and the Writer” at the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium, June 10, 2016, at Southwest Virginia Community College.

2010 – Co-Presenter with Phyllis Owens “Using Student Presentations to Engage and To Teach” for the Appalachian College Association Summit

2009 – Co-Presenter with Phyllis Owens “The Teaching/Learning Paradigm: Where Do You Fit?” for the Fall Faculty Workshop at Bluefield College

2009 – Co-Presenter with Phyllis Owens “The Student Research Continuum: From Article Reviews to Action Research” for the Appalachian College Association Summit

2008 – Presenter for the Noyce Scholars Seminar, sponsored by the Appalachian College Association, “Learning Mathematics in Appalachia”

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