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Georgia Southern conference explores HIV/AIDS care in rural communities

Keynote speaker Jeanne White-Ginder addresses the conference.

Keynote speaker Jeanne White-Ginder addresses the conference.

The 5th Annual Rural HIV Research and Training Conference was held earlier this month in Savannah. Many health care providers, educators, and individuals effected by HIV/AIDS attended the conference at the Coastal Georgia Center.

HIV/AIDS activist Jeanne White-Ginder was the keynote speaker. White-Ginder’s son, Ryan, lost his battle to AIDS in 1990 after contracting HIV during one of his many blood transfusions to treat hemophilia.  White-Ginder spoke about the role that HIV/AIDS stigma play in fueling the epidemic today and her firsthand account of the battle one faces when fighting the disease.

Other featured guests included Dr. Gregory Felzien, medial advisor for the Department of Public Health; Sally Jue of the American Psychological Association Office on HIV/AIDS; Patt Gunn, founder of The Geechee Institute; Dr. Brian Deloach of Georgia Southern University Student Health Services; and Dr. Travis Sanchez, associate professor at Rollins School of Public Health.

Thomas Koballa, Ph.D., Dean of Georgia Southern University’s College of Education, made the opening remarks at the conference and highlighted why the conference is vital to the region.


Conference attendees visiting exhibitors.

“With the Zika virus and other health care concerns grabbing headlines, HIV/AIDS does not have the public attention it once did,” said Koballa. “However, this does not diminish the threat of HIV/AIDS to the wellbeing of many, particularly in rural communities where HIV/AIDS health care and education may not be as accessible as in urban and suburban areas. The need to address the personal and community concerns associated with the illness remain real.”

The Rural HIV Research and Training Conference is an annual two-day forum for the exchanging of the latest knowledge and tools that can assist in the challenges faced by rural communities in the battle with HIV/AIDS epidemic. In partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the event is hosted by Georgia Southern’s College of Education and the University’s Division of Continuing Education.

The 6th Annual Conference has been scheduled for September 8-9, 2017 at the Coastal Georgia Center, Savannah. For more information about past conferences, visit

You could win a 3D printer for your school!

The Innovation Studio in the College of Education at Georgia Southern University invites schools to submit a proposal to win a Makerbot Replicator Desktop 3D printer. We are looking for the school that presents the strongest proposal for integrating 3D printing into their educational activities including expected student learning outcomes, collaboration, service, and sustainability. There is only one 3D printer available, so there can only be one winner. Please reference the rubric (below) to guide you in writing the proposal.

  • Who can submit? Educators and administrators who are employed by a P-12 public educational institution.
  • What makes a good proposal? Please write a 5-7 page proposal covering all the aspects detailed in the rubric (see below).
  • When to submit? All proposals should be submitted by Friday, November 18, 2016 at 5 p.m. (ET).
  • How to submit? Email completed proposals to
  • When will I learn about the results? The winner will be announced on Monday, December 12, 2016.
  • Who do I contact for questions? Send inquiries to



Win a 3D Printer for Your School Rubric



Cover Page
  • Provide name of the school and applicant(s).
  • Provide an overview of your school including some basic background information such as number of students, student-teacher ratio.


Executive Summary
  • Summarize the transformation you would like to see in your students, how 3D printer can facilitate the transformation, the specific teaching and learning problems that 3D printer will address, the key activities that you will be enabled to integrate, and how you will evaluate the success of this integration.


Content Integration Plan
  • Detailed plan of how the equipment will be integrated into the school curriculum to support interdisciplinary content learning (e.g., Math, Geography, History, Art, etc.). AND Detailed plan to provide students with hands-on learning experiences.


  • Detailed plan for learning to use the equipment as well as designing and developing learning experiences.


Expected Student Learning Outcomes (Skill, Knowledge, Attitude)
  • Detailed list of expected learning outcomes aligned with Georgia Performance or Common Core Standards.


  • Detailed plan to assess impact (learning outcomes).


Collaboration Plan
  • Letter of support from the administration


  • Detailed plan to work with the school faculty and staff


Sustainability Plan
  • Detailed and feasible plan to maintain the the equipment (including supplies).


  • Detailed 3-year plan to maintain instructional usage of the equipment.


Dissemination and Service
  • Detailed plan to deliver professional development workshops to other teachers in and outside of school. OR present the work at regional or national venues.



Regional education professionals gather to discuss recruiting and retaining of quality educators

Regional education professionals discussing educational strategies for Southeast Georgia.

Regional education professionals discussing educational strategies for Southeast Georgia.


On Friday, September 16, several administrators from regional schools and faculty members from Georgia Southern’s College of Education (COE) gathered to discuss the topic of “recruiting and retaining quality educators for Southeast Georgia.” This event was hosted by COE’s Partnership Council which is an advisory body that works collaboratively to enhance educational opportunities in Southeast Georgia.

Those attending the partnership summit received updates on initiates being used in the state, county, and university-level from guest speakers including: COE Dean Thomas Koballa, Bob Michael of the University System of Georgia, Kelly Spence of Bulloch County Schools, and COE Partnership Coordinator Christine Draper. Attendees also worked in small groups to share their own experiences discuss strategies and for current issues seen in the region for education including: addressing a diverse teaching core, recruitment in teacher preparation, recruitment of current teachers in the region, retaining teachers, and changing the mindset and public perspective of teaching.

For more information about the Partnership Council, please visit

COE faculty to present at Friday’s Eagle Techxpo

On Friday, the University’s annual Eagle Techxpo will showcase the latest technology for the classroom, workplace, and home. Faculty members from the leadership, technology, and human development department are scheduled to conduct two presentations.

Assistant Professor Lucas Jensen, Ph.D., will present a workshop on the evolution of text-based adventure games and branching narratives with a focus on Twine, an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories on the web. Jensen will discuss his experience in utilizing this technology to create a learning experience for various audiences in settings including weekend workshops for children, evening classes at libraries, summer youth programs, and middle school classrooms. He has also included the use of Twine in his online courses and professional development opportunities for educators.

Jensen’s presentation is entitled “Creating Text Adventures, Branching Narratives, and Interactive Fiction Twine and will take place at 2 p.m. in room 2203 of the Information Technology Building.

Assistant Professors Mete Akcaoglu, Ph.D., and Eunbae Lee, Ph.D., will also be presenting on Friday. Their workshop will demonstrate to attendees the ongoing research and activities of the Innovation Studio, a space in the College of Education dedicated to serving educators, students, staff, youth, and local community members to foster a culture of innovation and provide experience with cutting technology. Akcaoglu and Eunbae will demonstrate the use of new tools such as littleBits, Sphero Robots, and Lego robotics and how this technlogy can support students’ skill development for STEM related activities.

Akcaoglu and Lee’s presentation is entitled “Innovation Studio at College of Education” and will take place at 2 p.m. in room 2205 in the Information Technology Building.

Eagle Techxpo is a free event and is open to all members of campus as well as the community. Door prizes will be given away at each presentation.

To learn more about the Eagle Techxpo, visit

COE’s William-Johnson is recipient of University Award for Excellence in Instruction

Pictured third from the left, Meca Williams-Johnson, Ph.D. received the University's Excellence in Instruction Award at the University's Fall 2016 convocation.

Pictured third from the left, Meca Williams-Johnson, Ph.D. received the University’s Excellence in Instruction Award at the University’s Fall 2016 convocation.

Associate Professor Meca Williams-Johnson, Ph.D., was awarded Georgia Southern University’s Award for Excellence in Instruction presented during the annual Fall Convocation earlier this semester.

Drawing on her previous experience as a middle school educator, Williams-Johnson said that she has always wanted to serve as an advocate for educators and youth who are seeking the best options for their educational circumstances. Currently, she teaches research courses in the College of Education for students from undergraduate to doctorate levels. Williams-Johnson explains that she enjoys research because it allows students to investigate critical problems in teaching and learning.

“I encourage students to pursue individual research topics on whatever interests them,” she explained. The topics, she says, are immense. Research spans from STEM education to a comparative study of women’s education. “Nothing limits you—only your imagination,” Williams-Johnson said of educational research.

In the classroom, Williams-Johnson says she teaches by “storytelling” and sharing of experiences. She emphasizes to students the positive effects research experience can have including the likelihood of both the attendance and completion of graduate school as well as future career achievements. Her courses require many applicable projects such as mandatory and elective research assignments, and she encourages research conference participation. Williams-Johnson also takes the time to mentor students through the journal publication process.

Kent Rittschof, Ph.D., chair of the curriculum, foundations, and reading department, explained that Williams-Johnson earned this award because she goes “above and beyond” the requirements of her position regarding her dedication to students.

“Her high level of commitment in supporting students’ learning needs is seen in her classrooms, her online courses, her supervision of departmental graduate assistants and doctoral fellows, her research on educational practices, and her many service leadership roles on and off campus that have direct impact on our Georgia Southern students,” Rittschof said. “I have observed that Dr. Williams-Johnson continually strives for effective collaboration on curricular and instructional matters, and for improvement of teaching even while working at a very high level.”

Williams-Johnson joined Georgia Southern’s College of Education in 2006 and says that to this day she is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the Eagle Nation.