Leslie Watson

Leslie Watson began his career in education with North Lamar ISD 37 years ago. Now, he’s back at the school district as its new assistant superintendent, and for Watson, it feels like a homecoming.

Watson joined the North Lamar staff in 1982 as a math teacher and coach for several athletic teams. He developed a reputation for being a fun teacher who was able to incorporate real-world examples into his lessons.

Before he entered the education field, Watson worked in construction, and he continued to contract to build homes even after becoming a teacher. He would often take geometry students to job sites as part of his lessons.

“We’d do geometry to calculate how much decking we needed, or the total area of the house or things like that,” Watson said. “So I would show them the practical uses of geometry, and it really helped them relate it to their lives.

“I saw a former student recently, and she said she had been talking about building a home, and when they talked about pitching the roof, she said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m back in geometry class.’ That made me feel good that my lessons stuck with people and had that impact.”

After teaching at North Lamar High School for a number of years, Watson joined Stone Middle School, where he served as assistant principal.

As assistant principal, he worked hard to improve the school’s facilities. That dedication was recognized in 2007 when Watson said he was named the Texas Association of School Boards Assistant Principal of the Year.

After 17 years with North Lamar, he was offered the role of becoming principal at Prairiland High School.

“I loved my time with North Lamar, but I couldn’t pass up the job, and working with (Superintendent) Jeff Ballard was a pleasure,” Watson said.

At Prairiland, Watson was responsible for starting a program that gave Chromebooks to students. He also used online textbooks and other methods of integrating technology into the curriculum.

“I think using technology to the full advantage is a big, important thing nowadays, and the board was really supportive of that,” he said.

Watson also made a concerted effort to improve Prairiland’s special education program, saying he believes in giving every student an equal opportunity to a quality education.

After spending several years at Prairiland, Watson briefly tried his hand at retirement. But, he said, that didn’t last long.

“I missed being in the school setting, helping kids, and so when this position opened up, I knew I had to take it,” Watson said.

The assistant superintendent described returning to North Lamar as a homecoming of sorts, and he is excited to rejoin the district that gave him his start in the education world.

“It’s extremely exciting for me,” he said. “It’s great to be back because I have the history and connection with this district. A number of the school board members I taught when they were students themselves. That’s special.”

As assistant superintendent of personnel and student services, Watson oversees all student services, such as transportation, food services, special ed programs and more. He also supervises personnel matters, which can include hirings and any potential grievances that staff members might have.

“I’ve been back a few weeks, and I already love it,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to what the year has in store.”

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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