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Mississippi College

Vicksburg High Assistant Principal Tameka Henderson Earns MC Education Doctorate

August 14, 2013

Prayers, persistence and dedication helped Tameka Henderson earn her doctorate in educational leadership at Mississippi College.

A 31-year-old assistant principal at Vicksburg High, Henderson also gives a great deal of credit to her MC professors for encouraging her and keeping her focused all the way through graduation day on August 3.

“Every professor that I encountered in each program had something different to bring to the table,’’ said the Vicksburg native. “They had a plethora of experiences and when they put their minds together to form each program, magic happened. They truly brought out the best in me.’’

Besides learning under fabulous Mississippi College education professors like Tom Williams, Merleen Ivey, Ruthie Stevenson and Tommye Henderson, Tameka Henderson says her son, Joshua, served as an inspiration. “I wanted him to know that he can go all the way to the top if he stays focused and persistent. I wanted to lead by example.’’

Tameka Henderson has been doing just that. Last year, she served as a lead teacher at Warren Central Junior High before her recent appointment as Vicksburg High assistant principal.

The first in her family to earn a doctorate, Henderson focused on the topic of the bullying of children, and her dissertation research examined how  “educators have been faced with the daunting task of handling it. Because teachers spend so much time with students, it is imperative that they are trained on how to intervene and the signs of bullying.’’

Henderson didn’t start out wanting to be an educator. A former Vicksburg High Lady Gator basketball player and member of the school’s Pride Marching Band, she initially hoped to become a cosmetologist. But those classes were full at Hinds Community College, so she entered the school’s early childhood education program.

A Hinds graduate, Henderson went on to receive a full academic scholarship to Jackson State University where she earned a bachelor’s in early childhood education. She continued her studies at Mississippi College where she was awarded her specialist degree in December 2009 before entering the university’s educational leadership program in 2010.

Henderson is the tenth recipient of an educational leadership doctorate at Mississippi College. The first one to receive the degree in August 2011 was Kathleen Grigsby, a 34-year-old principal at Jackson’s Marshall Elementary School. The daughter of two profoundly deaf parents, she overcame challenges wearing hearing aids growing up.

“Kathleen has set the standard for all to follow,’’ said  Don Locke, dean of the MC School of Education soon after she walked off the stage at the university’s commencement.

Certainly, Tameka Henderson has met that standard and so have her colleagues next in line. There are several more doctorates in educational leadership expected to be awarded on the Clinton campus in December. At the moment, there are 55 educators enrolled in the MC School of Education program.

In recent years, Henderson served as a principal at Tallulah Elementary School in Louisiana and as an assistant principal at Madison Parish Elementary in the Bayou State.

Stevenson got to know Tameka when she pursued her specialist degree. “She was a very focused student, I was touched by her strength and determination as she worked through the specialist and doctoral programs.’’

Away from the classroom scene, Henderson is active in her community. She established a non-profit, New Hope Educational and Children’s Services to mentor girls, ages, 12-17, in Vicksburg-Warren County.

Throughout the difficult road to obtain her doctorate, Tameka Henderson felt  God’s hands guide her to achieve success. “I feel truly blessed that God thought enough of me to keep me in His arms of protection and knew that His plan was greater than mine,’’ said the Vicksburg High educator.

“According to statistics, I wasn’t supposed to finish high school, but God said yes. I am truly thankful for all of the professors at Mississippi College that He put in my path and my family.”

Photo: Picture of Vicksburg High assistant principal Tameka Henderson, who received her doctorate in educational leadership at Mississippi College on Aug. 3. The Vicksburg native is the 10th recipient of the doctoral degree from the School of Education at the Christian university.