Kettering woman described as ‘a phenomenal teacher’ who inspires students

A Kettering woman who retired after a 35-year career in the classroom with the Dayton Public Schools is continuing to inspire students in retirement.

Joni Watson taught art at Horace Mann Elementary School until she retired last school year.

Caren Earick called her “a phenomenal teacher who completely inspired students.”

“She (Watson) makes sure kids are excited as they extend their knowledge of the arts,” Earick said. “She’s a complete advocate for education and teachers. She would constantly impart the importance of keeping involved in the educational community.”

Earick knows this first hand as both her children had her as an art teacher.

In addition to the recognitions of her work in the classroom, Earick said Watson was nominated as an Ohio teacher of the year, but was ineligible because she had retired last spring. Watson’s dedication to her fellow teacher is also noteworthy as as she served on the Executive Board as well as associate vice president of the Dayton Education Association.

Earick said Watson assisted in the planning of and hosting many Professional Development courses and many courses she has hosted have been geared to advocacy for equality and equity.

“Mrs. Watson continues positive relationships with her students and families once they have left her building,” Earick said. “She has been a huge impact on hundred and hundreds of children throughout her career.”

Watson, a graduate of DPS, said she spent her entire life in the district.

“I was an art teacher and I loved it,” Watson said. “I loved developing relationships at all levels. I wanted students to know they could be successful and love art.”

These days, she is still teaching part-time at the Brunner Literacy Center in Trotwood as part of the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative of the Dayton Foundation. Watson is working to establish a coalition of organizations and companies whose clients and employees are at risk of low literacy.

Watson said her union work was important to her, adding that her great-grandfather was a union organizer for Chicago garment workers. “It was a natural fit,” she said.

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