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The Red and Grey

From courtroom to classroom

A look into Lauren Watson’s career transition
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Lauren Watson, an endeared teacher here at Madison County High School, came from a riveting background in the field of law. Watson was a staff attorney from the years of 2003-2012 and was appointed as superior judge in 2018 for the Northern Judicial Circuit (Elbert County, Madison County, Franklin County, and Oglethorpe County). When appointed, Watson was then able to listen to testimonies and decide if it aligned with the law. Yet during the May election, in 2020, Watson decided to step down and pursue a teaching career instead. So, why did Watson step down, and what was that transition like for her?

First off, what embodies a good judge? One that is prone to fairness and adequate listening. Lauren Watson resembles both of these qualities, and when interviewed she states, “Listening is important. You have to be a exceptional listener because some of the time it is just that people need to get their story, their version out.” During our interview, Watson discussed the qualities and skills she has learned from her former career. Though a judge’s career may seem easy from the outside, it is not all the job is made out to be. Watson recalls how she often saw the worst brought out in people, whether from divorce cases or criminal cases. According to Watson, “You internalize a lot of stuff…” She also goes on to say, “It’s tough to sit in a divorce case, and you’re seeing them at their worst.” Watson describes her time in the courtroom as one of her most challenging times in her life for her mentally. 

In May of 2020, another election for superior judge sprang, but the citizens were surprised to see Watson’s name not on the ballot. Instead Watson was seeking a teaching career, which came as a surprise to everyone, including herself.  Watson commented that she never imagined herself as a teacher growing up, yet with factors such as time and scheduling, and a different environment, teaching somehow came into the spotlight. While some may think of this as a drastic change, Watson thought of it as a new opportunity that law had prepared her for in some aspects. When asked about what she has kept from her previous job and applied to teaching, Watson said, “Treat people with respect and how I would want to be treated like even if they were on their worst behavior in the courtroom. I’d try to always not escalate it. And I try to do that same thing in my classroom.” Laura Watson provides the best support to her students transitioning from each period in their lives because of how understanding she is, and how she has been prepared to de-escalate situations throughout her previous career. Watson has also been able to enforce fairness and listening in her classroom, which are both qualities she’s been able to master due to her previous job. Additionally, Watson speaks about how even with the career as a superior judge being an excellent career path, teaching has provided her with the time to spend with her daughter, and with a consistent schedule that she can rely on. This has been freeing emotionally not only for Watson, but her family too, and has provided us all with an incredible addition to our school. 

From Watson’s input in the interview, she was torn to leave the legal field, but when she found her passion for teaching, her love for her new career blossomed. Watson discussed how she does not just do her job for herself, but she does it because she wants her students to thrive: “I worked a lot because I take a lot of pride in my work, and I want to do a good job for my students.” Although Watson admits to missing her career in the legal field, she definitely finds this job more rewarding and beneficial than she ever did in the legal field. Watson has been known to not only practice fairness in her work with students, but also serve as an accommodating and concerned adult for her students. Watson discussed in an interview, “A student sometimes just needs to feel like they’re heard. Like being seen for who they are.” Students from her past classes have described Watson as a remarkable, generous, and respectful teacher. She insists that the skills and knowledge she has learned from the legal profession has not only benefited her personally, but has also helped her performance in her classroom. Watson confessed that being in the legal field requires patience and maturity. Thus far Watson has been able to incorporate these into her classroom: “If I can’t be the calm adult, then I shouldn’t have the expectation that you can be the calm student.” Watson has declared that while there are things she misses about the legal field, if she were offered the opportunity to serve on the bench, she wouldn’t. 

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About the Contributors
Kirstin Guikema, Staff Writer
Abbi Bentley, Staff Writer
Abbigail Bentley is a tenth-grade student journalist for The Red and Grey. She does student first aid for MCHS, and she enjoys reading and writing in her free time. For Abbigail writing isn’t a chore; it’s a way to both express herself and escape from the world for a bit. Last year, she won The Young Georgia Authors contest for ninth grade at MCHS, and she continues to treat people with kindness every day!

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