WCU math education program nets another honor

When Hannah Watson ’12 received the 2012 Outstanding Math Education Student award for the western region of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics this fall, she became the 23rd product of Western Carolina University’s mathematics education program to receive the award in the last 26 years.

Hannah Watson ’12 teaches mathematics at Franklin High School.

“I feel extremely blessed and honored to have been recognized for this award,” said Watson, who is now teaching mathematics at Franklin High School in Macon County, where she interned as a student teacher. “Ever since the day I made the decision to teach I have never looked back, and it has been my dream to teach math. I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career. My students help me make every day an adventure.”

The daughter of Ken and Vicki Watson of Murphy, Watson graduated as valedictorian from Hiwassee Dam High School in 2007. At Franklin, she is teaching alongside a previous recipient of the award, WCU alumna Emily Beller Awtry ’99, who won in 1999. “Hannah is a fantastic teacher and an inspiration to myself and others at Franklin High,” said Awtry.

Watson’s adviser, Kathy Jaqua, WCU associate professor of mathematics and computer science, says she can tell that her former student already is settling in to her new profession. “When I visited during her student teaching at Franklin, I could see she was a good fit there,” Jaqua said. “She had students involved in activities and was using the technology there to make all 90 minutes of the class period count. Franklin has invested in advanced technology and has a strong faculty – they think similarly about active, hands-on learning.”

Active in WCU’s student affiliate of the NCCTM, Watson presented research at the Smoky Mountain Undergraduate Research Conference on the History of Mathematics, and also attended last year’s state conference as a student teacher. She was recognized as an Outstanding Prospective Teacher and received the Outstanding Student Teacher in Mathematics Award while a student.

Last year’s winner for the western region was Caitlin Yencha ’12, a native of Cary, now teaching at East Henderson High School in Flat Rock. “That’s great news for Hannah,” Yencha said. “She deserves this award. She was always the hardest-working student in the classes we shared.”