University initiatives with K-12 schools prove to be win-win partnerships
9/17/2012 3:01:10 PM
(Sept. 17, 2012) – Several partnerships between North
Georgia College & State University and area K-12 school systems are
producing mutually beneficial results, including professional development
opportunities, in a time of budget cuts and increasing demands for achievement.
This fall, North Georgia's School of Education expanded its
model for training student teachers to the Lumpkin County School System. The
first priority of the program is to provide field experience for North Georgia
students, however, Pennie Fowler, principal of Lumpkin County Elementary
School, said the program is a win-win situation beyond training new teachers
and lowering student-teacher ratios.
|Jamie Veatch, a student in the School of Education, goes over a reading lesson with students at Lumpkin County Elementary School.
"The partnership with North Georgia College & State
University, to have them assisting us with professional development for our
faculty and staff, is a great benefit," Fowler said, explaining that
budget cuts eliminated her staff development funds. "I think the program
is great. I feel like our interns and the university professors are part of us.
They're not here in addition to us; they are part of our school."
North Georgia's professional development communities put university
students and their professors in public schools in Lumpkin, Dawson, Forsyth and
Hall counties in a two-year, full-immersion model that translates into at least
50 percent more field experience than is required for teacher certification. Student
teachers even take their college courses at the public school, providing a more
integrated experience that includes pre-planning activities and parent-teacher
Additionally, other university departments are providing opportunities
for professional development to area educators through workshops.
This summer, Dr. Sherry Hix, assistant professor of math,
and Dr. Dianna Spence, associate professor of math, conducted a workshop for Hall
County's advanced-placement (AP) statistics teachers. The workshop on facilitating authentic
projects in statistics courses also was attended by school system
administrators and had participants conduct their own statistics project.
“The workshop was targeted for teachers of AP statistics,
which is offered as an option for high school students who can get credit for a
college-level statistics course by making a satisfactory score on the AP exam
at the end of the course,” Spence said. “As part of a highly innovative new
program in Hall County, some of their most advanced eighth-grade students will
also have the opportunity to take AP statistics."
Hix and Spence provided teachers with curriculum materials developed through a National Science
Foundation grant, led by Spence as principal investigator and Dr. Brad Bailey,
assistant professor of math, as co-principal investigator.
In January, 20 teachers attended an economic education
workshop hosted by Dr. John Scott, director of the Center for Economic
Education in North Georgia’s Mike Cottrell School of Business. The workshop
featured a powerful new software package developed by the Georgia Council on
Economic Education and was presented by Glen Blankenship, the council's vice
president of programming.
“Peer-reviewed research shows that the Georgia Council on
Economic Education's workshops have boosted students' grades on the state's
tests by as much as 30 percent of a standard deviation,” Scott said. “This
improvement is highly substantive, given that workshops are much less expensive
than government initiatives to improve education.”
The North Georgia Center for Economic Education is planning
to offer another workshop in 2013.
In addition to professional development, North Georgia also
has several initiatives that directly benefit students in area communities:
- North Georgia is working with school systems in
Hall, Lumpkin and White counties to create a regional charter school focusing
on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Last year, the project
received $50,000 in Race to the Top Innovation funds for planning and designing
the academy, which will target 400-600 students a year and is scheduled to open
in August 2014 at North Hall High School.
- The Children and Nutrition Grant Project, written
by six nursing faculty, has provided students with resources for nutrition and
obesity education in the communities served by the university. The project has
assembled health-teaching kits that are used by North Georgia nursing students
to teach nutrition concepts to children in Lumpkin, Forsyth, and Hall counties,
and has established ongoing projects in the community for nutrition education
- The Department of Visual Arts' ArtStream students
are working with high school students to create classroom curriculum about
heirloom gardening. The project also uses research gathered by students
minoring in Appalachian studies through the School of Education and the university's
Georgia Appalachian Studies Center.