Oatanisha Dawson’s road to becoming a teacher was a long and sometimes bumpy one.
Oatanisha always knew she wanted to teach. She began working with students as a paraprofessional at Jane Macon Middle School in Brunswick, Georgia. Unfortunately, however, in 1998, the state of Georgia had to eliminate a number of paraprofessional positions. Oatanisha lost her job as a result of these cuts. There she was without money, a car, a job, and daycare for her young daughter. Other family troubles interrupted her life as well.
Not to be deterred, Oatanisha earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Education Mathematics at Armstrong Atlantic State University supported by AASU’s Pathways Program. She went on to earn her Masters of Education Degree as Armstrong Atlantic State University as well. Armstrong holds a very strong place in Oatanisha heart. “Armstrong is not just brick and mortar, but Armstrong is a place where I gained a family, I’ve gained self-respect, and I’ve grown as a professional. So when I think of Armstrong, I think of home.”
Oatanisha returned to Jane Macon Middle School as a fully certified middle school mathematics teacher where she is highly regarded and where she wanted to create an educational family of her own. Oatanisha commitment is evidenced in her words. “I come to work to give my students hope.” Her excellence has been recognized by her colleagues and students as she was nominated Teacher of the Year for her school and her school superintendent has invited to her to participate on a county-wide education committee.
Oatanisha is now enrolled in an Educational Leadership doctoral program at Valdosta State University.