Watts Graduates LEAP Program

Watts Graduates LEAP Program

RCU Project Manager Sam Watts (back row, sixth from left) was part of Mississippi State's 2020 LEAP graduating class. (Photo by Megan Bean/MSU Office of Public Affairs)

March 17, 2020

Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit Project Manager Sam Watts added another accolade to his résumé when he graduated from the university’s Leadership Excellence for Accomplished Professionals (LEAP) program in February.

LEAP seeks to empower new supervisors and high performing employees by heightening self-awareness, knowledge and leadership.

Participants are selected through a competitive selection process that examines qualifications, professional accomplishments, academic skills and leadership abilities.

Watts and his fellow participants met biweekly for four months and covered topics including leadership, performance management, professional branding, team facilitation, change management, conflict resolution, ethical decision making, valuing diversity and leaving a legacy.

The LEAP program is designed to help participants develop skills including identifying behaviors and motivators, building effective teams, managing conflict and valuing a diverse workplace.

“It was a great honor to be selected to participate in LEAP. I certainly try to do everything I can to deliver excellence in all my work and to improve myself so I can improve those around me,” Watts said. “It’s humbling and assuring to have others notice that and help me achieve my goals by allowing me to participate in this program. I learned a great deal on how to manage a team within the university setting and made great connections with other accomplished professionals across campus. I strongly desire to take these skills and use them however I can to improve our great team here at the RCU.”

Watts, who joined the RCU in 2017, manages, develops and fine-tunes numerous secondary CTE curricula for Mississippi, including health science; sports medicine; culinary arts; business, marketing, finance; and others. He also collaborates with educators to implement best practices for teaching the curricula.

A former football player at MSU, Watts worked in construction before diving into the education field as an elementary and middle school physical education teacher and a mathematics instructor at the secondary level.

Founded in 1965, the RCU contributes to MSU’s mission as a land-grant institution to better the lives of Mississippians with a focus on improving education. In particular, the RCU benefits K-12 and higher education by developing curricula and assessments, providing training and learning opportunities for educators, researching and evaluating programs, supporting and promoting career and technical education, and leading education innovations. For more information about RCU, rcu.msstate.edu or follow the organization on Facebook at facebook.com/rcumsu, Twitter at twitter.com/rcumsu and Instagram at Instagram.com/rcumsu.