Meridian Star

July 17, 2013

Russell Christian Academy prepares for new school year

By Ida Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Special to The Star

    Russell Christian Academy has two new additions to its administration team.

    Dr. Mark Allison is RCA's new headmaster and Cindy Watson is director of the school's dyslexia program.

    “The passion of Russell Christian is to be intentional in our stand for Jesus Christ. Our goal is to be a distinctly Christian school as we continually confront the children and young adults with the person of Jesus Christ," stated RCA Superintendent the Rev. Steve Taylor in a press release.

    "As we prepare for a new year I am thrilled with the staff that God has given to us. I believe that this will be a great year as we strive to serve him,” Taylor said.

Dr. Mark Allison

    Originally from the Birmingham, Ala., area, Allison graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. He earned a Masters of Divinity with Languages degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2002, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Beeson Divinity School (Samford University in Birmingham) in 2012.

    Allison served in the U.S. Navy from 1985 to 1997, then returned to the Navy as a North American Mission Board-endorsed chaplain from 2002 to 2012, including a tour at Naval Air Station Meridian from 2007-2009. After his retirement from the Navy in 2012, he and his family chose Meridian as their permanent residence.  

    As a chaplain, Allison planned and led classes for officers and enlisted men and women, covering subjects including Bible studies, suicide prevention, alcohol abuse awareness, troop wellness and individual unit familiarization. He developed Officer-in-Charge training outlining the differences in Christian and Muslim faiths from a Christian perspective before his battalion deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan in 2011. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in education through the Leadership Institute at Delta State University.

    A Christian since the age of 25, Allison said, “It is my goal to invest in my students from my years in ministry as a Navy chaplain to equip them not only in subjects I teach, but in making  real-life decisions as an adult in a complex world. I seek to use my spiritual gifts of teaching God’s word, leadership, organization, compassion and encouragement to help them make positive decisions in their lives while they are still in their formative years.”

Cindy Watson

    Today, 1 in 5 students is affected by a learning difference known as dyslexia. For seven years, Russell Christian Academy has had a dedicated dyslexia program to serve the needs of these students.      

    "Watson is well known in the Meridian area, having worked in Quitman City Schools, Meridian Public Schools and Lauderdale County Schools," as noted in a press release.

    Watson has a master's degree in special education from the University of West Alabama and was recently named the 2013 Clarkdale High School Teacher of the Year. She has many years of personal tutoring experience with special needs students and with students taking advanced level courses.  

    Watson and Lori Caves will continue the reading program based on an Orton-Gillingham Method that has been extremely successful in training students to read, according to the press release.

    Russell Christian Academy continues to strengthen the Dyslexia Program with enhanced training for teachers and participation with the International Dyslexia Association.

    “An individual with the ability to read and comprehend can learn anything he desires," Watson said.

     "Dyslexic individuals find this a very frustrating process, but with continuous work they are able to acquire tools that help them overcome this frustration and become fluent readers," she continued. "What worked with one individual may not be the answer for the next. All children are different and it is important to help each find the correct tools to make reading an enjoyable experience.”

    Today, many successful people from all walks of life began their educational experience as dyslexic students, Watson added.