Tawny McCleon (Faculty)

Tawny McCleon, pictured next to a brick building.

Working in the field of school psychology has taught Mississippi State Associate Professor Tawny McCleon many things, but the greatest skill she has developed is a passion for helping others.

“I always have been an advocate for individuals who may not be able to help themselves, but working with students who have academic, behavioral, emotional and social challenges gives you a deeper perspective. It makes you more aware and teaches you not to take your ability to be emotionally stable for granted,” said McCleon, who has taught for the past nine years in the university’s Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations.

A native of Newton County, McCleon holds a bachelor’s in educational psychology from Alcorn State University. Along with a master’s in school psychology/psychometry, she holds an MSU doctorate in educational psychology with emphasis in school psychology and focus in special education.

McCleon has 10 years experience in the field of school psychology with five years each in school and mental health settings. She has served as a case manager and alcohol and drug counselor, as well as a school-based mental health therapist and day treatment coordinator for Weems Community Mental Health Center in Meridian. She also worked as a school psychologist/school psychometrist for the Philadelphia Public School District. Outside of Mississippi, McCleon worked as a licensed specialist in school psychology and crisis interventionist for the Houston Independent School District in Texas.

In 2009, McCleon joined the MSU faculty as an adjunct professor. She has since worked her way up to the rank of associate professor, a role that has enabled her to mentor younger generations of aspiring Bulldog school psychologists.

“We give our students the opportunity to actually go into schools, so they can see how academic, behavioral, emotional and social deficits impact students’ educational performance and ability to function in a school environment,” McCleon said. “When we see that behavior firsthand, we can analyze it and provide administrators and teachers with data-based interventions, so they can better meet students’ needs.”

“There’s a great need for school psychologists in Mississippi,” McCleon continued, “and I love training students to take the skills they are learning in the classroom and use them to serve children and families in our neighboring school districts.”

Away from the classroom, McCleon says her passion for mentoring young people is evident at home, where she enjoys spending time with her 15-year-old son, Evan.

“He will pick where he wants to go to college, but I’m hoping he’ll be a Bulldog,” she said with a smile.