Karen Watson, a member of the Cypress College math faculty and the college’s 2003 Teacher of the Year, lost her long battle with cancer early this morning.
“Her body, but not her spirit, succumbed to a recurrence of the cancer she had fought so bravely against previously,” her dean, Richard Fee, wrote in an email to colleagues. In her last day, she was surrounded by her family and friends.”
Karen lived her life as the embodiment of grace and love. I met Karen as she was moving into her office the summer before her first semester. She greeted me with such warmth and enthusiasm, that I felt as though I belonged (even as an adjunct instructor). She made her students feel the same way. Each one of them was special in her eyes, and each semester she asked herself “How can I do more for my students?”
In 2003, a student-led committee selected Watson as the college’s Teacher of the Year recipient.
“The entire campus community extends congratulations to Karen for her excellence as an instructor.” then-President Dr. Margie Lewis said. “She is another example of the wonderful employees that we have at Cypress. It also speaks volumes about the depth of quality instruction within the Mathematics Department for a math teacher to be nominated yet again for this honor.”
Watson earned tenure in May 2002, four years after she was hired at Cypress College following a career that included employment by Hughes Aircraft as a software engineer, and as a civilian statistician for the U.S. Navy.
It was at Hughes that she realized teaching was her true calling. Having already earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Fullerton, she returned to the university to earn her master’s degree in mathematics.
Watson was particularly interested in training future K-12 teachers and developed two mathematics courses for what was then the college’s new Cypress College Teacher Preparation Program. She was also active in local mathematics organizations and regularly presented workshops at regional K-12 conferences and teacher in-service training.
She also served on the Academic Senate.
Away from work, Watson and her husband, Dennis, enjoyed ballroom dancing, and were actively involved at church.