Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Leadership, 2008
School of Education
April 1, 2010
“I always knew I was going to be a teacher.”
Dr. Nancy Watkins is a K-12 educator for 21 years currently teaching high school at Valencia High School in Orange County, California. In addition to teaching in public schools, Dr. Watkins is adjunct faculty teaching educational policy courses at several local colleges. Her research interests focus on the role of teachers in the policy making process.
Dr. Nancy Watkins always knew she was going to be teacher. An inspiring teacher in high school solidified her decision to be a secondary social studies teacher. After completing her B.A. in Political Science at University of California, Santa Barbara, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin her teaching career. Her first teaching experience was in the now defunct Richmond Unified School District. RUSD went into state receivership in 1991 and Dr. Watkins was one of 800 teachers laid off. Moving back to Southern California, Dr. Watkins secured a job teaching at her high school alma mater in Upland. Awarded a Master’s Degree in 1994 from Claremont Graduate University, Dr. Watkins studied public policy and wrote her thesis on the constitutionality of school choice. In 1994 she was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to study transitional democracies in Eastern Europe.
One month after her husband began a management and leadership doctoral program, Dr. Watkins began her doctoral program in education.
With three active boys under the age of ten, we knew it was going to be a busy time. Strong commitment to the goal helped both of us finish our degrees in just over three years.
Dr. Watkins is committed to the students in her classroom and to involvement of teachers in the processes that affect educational policy. The sentences below are posted on her podium front and center in Dr. Watkins’ classroom:
Slow down. Pay attention. Question everything. Start now.
She believes her most significant contribution to student learning is encouraging students to think. Many of her students walk into the classroom and read those words aloud each day. She likes the reminder for students and believes the message serves as a frame for each lesson and experience in her classroom.
Dr. Watkins currently teaches Advanced Placement US Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Comparative Politics, Economics, and an epistemology class called Theory of Knowledge. Students enrolled in these courses are high achievers and are driven towards success. Even with these motivated and intelligent students, Dr. Watkins believes teaching must transcend the simple text and keep students inquiring. Furthermore, she believes that inquiry is not for the students alone. She envisions an important role for teachers both in and out of the classroom and serves as a teacher leader in numerous capacities on at her school site, the district and in the community.
Dr. Watkins teaches Government, Economics, and Theory of Knowledge at Valencia High School, but throughout her career has taught every subject in the social science content area. Currently, she is the Social Studies Department Chair, a member of the Leadership team, and a Focus Group leader for the WASC accreditation process.
Also on site, Dr. Watkins is an active member on committees related to school culture and change. She is a member of the Professional Learning Communities Leadership Team and served as one of nine teachers who are provided training about PLC’s and tasked with framing the concept for the entire faculty. Related to PLC’s, she created a digital presentation on interventions for student success that was shown at a school wide faculty meeting. She is also a member on the School Site Council (SSC), a group that includes students, parents, community leaders, administrators and teachers. The SSC has local control over grant money distribution and other decisions for the school site.
At the district level, Dr. Watkins is a representative for the high school at the Superintendents Teacher Advisory Council (TAC). This council meets monthly and has teacher representation from every school in the district. The opportunity to work with colleagues at all levels has been valuable for the diverse perspectives. The TAC allows teachers to interact with district personnel and receive information that can be communicated back to the school site.
She has also served as a technology trainer for the district, training several teachers on new attendance and grade book software. For the training Dr. Watkins designed the presentation, guided teachers through the technology, troubleshot technical issues, and provided follow up after the training.
Dr. Watkins currently serves as the Community Service Coordinator for Valencia High School. In this role, she brokers community service opportunities for the students. This requires extensive communication with volunteer organizations and with the students. She enjoys building these working relationships.
In 2007, Dr. Watkins was appointed to the state level Committee on Accreditation (COA) commissioned through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to serve as a member for a four year term. This committee reviews accreditation reports for teacher education programs throughout the state. As a member on this committee she represents teachers throughout the state of California. There are three K-12 teachers currently serving on the COA.
Dr. Watkins is often asked if she hopes to go into school administration since completing her degree but she responds:
At this time, I plan to stay in the classroom and continue to advocate for students and teachers. I believe it is important that students develop critical thinking skills and for teachers to know that they have a role to play in educational policy making.