On this episode, I Zoom in Dr. LaQuanta Nelson, and we chat about how she found herself in the classroom, what motivates her as an educator, her journey into edupreneurship and much more. This episode also touches on issues in K12 education within Mississippi, and the importance of personal development and purpose for educators.
LaQuanta M. Nelson has served in education as a mentor, teacher, assistant principal, and principal. She has served in middle level education for the last 15 years.
Dr. Nelson is a proud 2006 alumna of Tougaloo College, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. While there, she was very active on campus and served in roles such as Student Government Association President, as well as President of the Gamma Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated. She then matriculated to Mississippi College, earning a Masters of Education degree in Elementary Education. She continued her studies at Mississippi College to obtain an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Administration. In May 2012, Dr. Nelson obtained her Doctorate of Philosophy degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in the area of Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Administration.
Dr. Nelson began her career as a 6th grade math, science, and technology teacher at Crystal Springs Middle School in Copiah County School District. There, she had the opportunity to build several clubs, which ultimately increased school spirit and parental involvement. She transitioned to Hinds County School District to serve as an 8th grade technology teacher. While serving in that capacity, she continued to serve as sponsor for multiple clubs and community service projects. In 2009, Dr. Nelson joined the administrative team as Assistant Principal of Byram Middle School, she continued to build student leadership and teacher capacity. She was named Principal of Byram Middle School in January 2014, and moved the school forward with re-establishing its vision and building community partnerships. Under her leadership, the school established several innovative programs for the purpose of preparing students to be competitive in a global society.
Dr. Nelson joined the Jackson Public School District and took on the charge of leading a turn-around school in August of 2017. Since then, the school has experienced several history-making events, as it is readily moved from under-performing to one of accelerated growth. She empowered teachers and students to create new organizations geared toward building student leadership and expanding community service. Dr. Nelson, serving as instructional leader, helped to increase the academic rigor and expectation, which has led to increased parental involvement and community support. Under her leadership, this school moved from being the 3rd lowest middle school in the state up an entire letter grade. The school previously had been consecutively deemed a failing school for 12 years, prior to Dr. Nelson’s arrival. She attributes a majority of this success due to changing the culture and climate of the school.
Dr. Nelson is a member of the Mississippi Association of Professional Educators, Mississippi Association of School Administrators, Association for Middle-Level Education, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She is also a member of the Beta Delta Omega Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She enjoys singing and playing the piano, serving as a church musician. Dr. Nelson is the current Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Middle Level Education and serves on the Mississippi Department of Education Middle-Level Education Task Force. She is always on a mission to advocate for students and public education. Her areas of specialty include personal development, climate and culture, student and adult motivation, organizational development, and systems development. These areas transcend education and are applicable to businesses, organizations, companies, and other group needs. Her recent endeavor of BOSS EDUCATOR is extension of her passion for educating young and adult learners. Through BOSS EDUCATOR, she is empowering ALL to be BOLD, OPTIMISTIC, SPONTANEOUS, and SUBSTANTIAL!