Position: SPED 1:10 and Assistant Girls Soccer Coach
School: Springdale High School
School District: Springdale Public Schools
City, State: Springdale, AR
Music that Describes Ellen
Ellen Watts was nominated by an anonymous colleague.
There are not enough words that could express the importance of the work that Coach Watts is doing at Springdale High School. She spends countless hours working with a wide spectrum of students at school. Not only does she spend the day working with a variety of students, but she also puts in various hours after school supporting students and staff. Some of the roles she plays include:
Coach Watts has one of the most interesting classes one could ever observe. Every student in her class is diagnosed with a disability (Autism, Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities, etc.). She not only teaches academics to her students, but she also takes the time to teach social and life skills to her students. She is not afraid to jump in and do the dirty work, which can include helping with bathrooming students or dealing with sick children. Coach Watts takes the time to focus on communicating with non-verbal students and teaching them how to be independent after high school. It is not uncommon to see her walking the hallways with her students, teaching them how to start conversations with friends and teachers. One of the highlights of what she does in her classroom is give students a voice. Countless times, she has been the stepping-stone for students who are considered “non-verbal” saying their first words.
"Coach Watts peps up her girls for games and gives some amazing speeches. The girls on the team make it a point to stop by her room everyday and engage with her students," said her nominator. "She not only teaches them soccer skills, but how to be a beneficial member of the community. She focuses on leadership and responsibility."
Her classroom wall is decorated with countless letters and pictures drawn for her by current and former students. It is common to see her helping students when they have a personal crisis and giving them her wisdom. A few of these students discussed what she means to them:
“If I had not joined soccer with Coach Watts, my life would still be black and white. She makes coming to school fun, and I know that if I skip or miss school, she will be on my case. Probably would make me run, but its worth it to make her proud.” - 12th grader.
“Coach Watts is like the big sister I never had. She keeps me accountable for what I do at school and outside of school. She is sometimes the only person who asks me about my day, and she even remembered my birthday. Coach Watts bought me a hat like she wears all the time because I told her I liked it and I bring it to school with me everyday. She’s bomb.”- 10th Grader.
“She’s the best. She can go from scary coach in your face to best friend in a matter of seconds. I know she cares about me and the other girls, and that means a lot. She checks our grades and will track us down if we aren’t where we are supposed to be. To me, that says a lot about her. She even came and watched our stuff outside of school like community soccer games. She is my role model.” – 11th grader.