Textbooks, paperbacks, atlases and magazines fill every shelf in her classroom. Maps of the world, the United States and the local town adorn the walls, along with quotes from historic figures, postcards from around the world, hand-drawn art work, high school memorabilia, thank you cards, and, secured with a shiny silver thumbtack in its own special corner, an unopened package of Twinkies ominously dated ‘best by Dec 2, 2007!’
Welcome to Jan Watson’s engaging classroom at Rochester High School, south of Olympia. It is in this room over the last four years high school juniors and seniors enrolled in certain classes taught by Watson have earned Eastern Washington University credits as part of the College in the High School program.
Watson is recognized for her outstanding contributions to the fields of history and geography education. Working closely with EWU faculty, she has taught more than 200 students in multiple sections of history 110 and geography 101. All College in the High School classes are taught by high school teachers at their own schools but must follow EWU syllabi, offer parallel content, and meet all published student learning objectives. Teachers must pass rigorous assessment to enter the program.
For her outstanding efforts, Watson is the recipient of Eastern’s inaugural EWU in the Classroom Award for Academic Excellence. The award was created to honor a high school teacher who has greatly enriched the educational opportunities of his or her students through exceptional achievements in the EWU in the High School program.
EWU faculty make yearly visits to their classrooms to ensure students are receiving education that meets Eastern standards. History advisor Larry Cebula, PhD, and geography advisor Stacy Warren, PhD, consistently have observed the academic expertise thriving under Watson’s capable direction, leading them to nominate her for this year’s award.
“Watson is one of the star teachers in EWU in the High School,” wrote Cebula and Warren. “Her classroom is a place of academic rigor leavened with support and understanding. Her teaching is dynamic and takes advantage of multiple resources. Particularly impressive is how Watson combines her own research into local and regional history and geography to draw students into the larger historical and geographical themes.”
Watson is retiring at the end of the 2017-18 school year. In selecting her for this award, EWU faculty recognize her contributions not just in the classroom but in inspiring lifelong learners.
“Jan is like family,” Warren said. “There is nothing better than meeting a new freshman here at Eastern and finding out they were once her student at Rochester and she is the reason they are in college.”