AMERICUS (June 20, 2013)—After 16 years on the faculty at Georgia Southwestern State University, serving as School of Education dean since 2007, Lettie Watford will retire at the end of July. The search for a new dean is under way.
"Dean Watford has played a key role in the evolution of our teacher education program," said President Kendall Blanchard, Ph.D. "Her leadership has been crucial to our accreditation efforts and to the enhancement of our reputation as a university that produces outstanding classroom teachers."
"I am honored to have served Georgia Southwestern in several capacities," said Watford. "Working as a professor of mathematics education brought me great joy, and my role as dean of the School of Education has helped me form lasting relationships with administrators, faculty, staff, and students at GSW, and with educators in school systems around the state. I work with smart, talented people with wonderful energy and enthusiasm to not only prepare and further educate teachers, but to positively impact P-12 grade students."
Watford's abilities as a leader are evident by the positions she has held during her tenure at Georgia Southwestern. As dean, Watford and School of Ed faculty and staff built a Professional Development School network of over 50 schools in 16 Georgia school districts. She worked as interim dean from 2005 to 2007. From 2002 to 2005, she served as department head of Middle Grades/Secondary Education. She began at GSW in 1997 as an associate professor of mathematics education, coming from Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga.
"Dean Watford has been an able leader through quite a few difficult years," said Brian Adler, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs. "I have greatly enjoyed working with her. Her team building ability is evident in what the School of Education has accomplished, including a stellar review by NCATE and the PSC. She will be missed."
Dean Watford guided the School of Education through a successful NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) reaccreditation process during Spring 2013. Taking place every seven years, NCATE review is a rigorous process requiring education programs to clearly demonstrate that they effectively prepare students to teach in the classroom. The preliminary review from NCATE and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission said the School of Ed met all standards at the highest level and made no recommendations for improvement.
Under Watford's direction, the master's and specialist's degrees in education were streamlined into two general graduate programs: a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction and an Ed.S. in teacher leadership. From 2008 to 2013, 429 Ed.S. program students and 290 students in the M.Ed. program students completed these degrees from GSW.
"The fact that this many teachers have impacted and will impact their students positively with what they learned in the advanced education programs at GSW is what I feel is our greatest accomplishment with graduate programs," Watford said. "Graduate faculty in the School of Education worked together using their areas of expertise to design these programs."
Showing the ability to adapt, the GSW School of Ed redesigned its graduate programs again over the last year to meet the new rules from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for certification upgrades for teachers.
Watford earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Tift College, a Master of Education in secondary math from GSW, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in math education from the University of Georgia. In 2003, Watford was named GSW's Teacher of the Year, and in 2012 she was recognized as a Tift College Distinguished Alumna.
"I thank President Kendall Blanchard, Vice President for Academic Affairs Brian Adler, and the administration of GSW for supporting my efforts to serve the University and the School of Education," Watford added. "They have been most supportive of the work of teacher education."