Jesse Watson, the CVM’s new academic initiatives program manager and a Black Mountain, N.C. native, has taken a roundabout way back to work in his home state.
His passion for teaching and education has been evident throughout his journey, which includes such diverse experiences as teaching outdoor camping skills, martial arts, English as a second language in Japan, high school English in the United States and instructing teachers-in-training.
In his new position he supports the CVM community with educator development, helping to refine its curriculum and supporting new educational initiatives between departments.
Watson is also serving as the program manager for the Academy of Educators, a new collaboration among CVM faculty focusing on professional development, research, and reviewing curriculum.
What made you want to go into this field?
Veterinary medicine education appeals to me. To be able to design the best system to get the best results is an interesting challenge. We have a heavy curriculum in a field that is rapidly changing. We need to shift from trying to provide such an overwhelming amount of content to providing the right content to make it possible to work while continuing to learn.
What are you most excited about in this position?
It’s exciting that everyone here really wants to do a great job. They’re dedicated to veterinary medicine, and they are really motivated. The people here aren’t jaded. Their hearts are really behind what they do. I feel lucky to be here in this community.
What is your background?
I have a master’s in educational psychology from NC State and an education specialist degree from Purdue. These are research-based degrees. I ran a number of research projects on teacher evaluation methods at Purdue, including one that received a $1.5 million grant. We were really evaluating the tools used to assess teachers. I spent 3,000 hours observing K-12 teachers in the classroom. I also mentored research-oriented grad students.
What’s something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
When I was working on my master’s here in Raleigh I trained in improv at ComedyWorx. Performing was a lot of fun. I’m an introvert, and it helped me develop my public side.
Do you have any pets?
My fiance, Sasha, and I have a gray cat named Ella. She’s 2 years old.
When you’re not on campus, where could we find you?
In good weather, I like to go hiking. I’m also a gaming nerd. I like running Dungeons & Dragons games. As an educator, I’ve run them for kids. You can have some amazing conversations on serious topics through their characters.