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Middle grades candidates serve on state-wide board

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GMSA Board Representatives Maggie Jones (pictured left) and Hallie Blizzard

Hallie Blizzard and Maggie Jones, teacher candidates in the middle grades education program at Georgia Southern University, were selected to serve on the Georgia Middle School Association (GMSA) Board of Directors for the 2016-17 academic year. Blizzard and Jones fulfill the role of representing the affiliate organization, Collegiate Middle Level Association (CMLA) for the GMSA Board.

GMSA is a leader for continuous improvement in the education of middle grades students through promoting exemplary educational practices and offering support and resources to all middle grades educators in the state of Georgia.

“Having the pleasure of representing Georgia Southern University on the Board of Directors for GMSA has been one of the highlights of my college experience,” commented Jones. “Getting the chance to network with other individuals who share my desire to better the middle school experience for young adolescents has given me such hope for the future of teaching. There are great things happening in middle schools all over the state, and realizing that I get to be a part of that has been very humbling.”

GMSA’s Board includes middle level principals, teachers, teacher educators, and other stakeholders from across the state. Georgia Southern’s College of Education is also represented on the Board by Amanda Wall, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, and COE alumnus Neal Tam (’14, Ed.D. Educational Leadership) currently serves as the president of GMSA.

For more information about the Georgia Middle School Association, visit http://gamiddleschoolassociation.org.


Middle grades candidates attend Middle Level Summit at Georgia College

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Middle Grades Teacher Candidates pictured l-r: Maggie Jones, Hallie Blizzard, Devynn Dunn, and Aaron Sikes.

 

Teacher candidates and faculty from Georgia Southern University attended the Middle Level Summit at Georgia College in Milledgeville on November 11. Middle grade teacher candidates Hallie Blizzard, Devynn Dunn, Maggie Jones, and Aaron Sikes joined students and faculty from other institutions including Augusta University, Lee University, Valdosta State University, and the University of Georgia. Dan Bauer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Writing and Linguistics, and Amanda Wall, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, also represented Georgia Southern at the summit.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with so many people who are within the middle level education field,” said teacher candidate Hallie Blizzard.

“The Ready, Set, Grow! Summit was a fantastic learning experience,” said teacher candidate Devynn Dunn. “I was really excited to listen to people of the profession talk to those of us who are in the program and are becoming teachers about topics that could help us grow as teacher candidates and professionals in the upcoming years.”

Mark Springer was the keynote speaker of the summit. Springer is the author of Soundings, a book that describes his experience with democratic curriculum at his middle school in Pennsylvania.

The theme for the summit was “Ready! Set! Grow!,” and breakout sessions focused on topics such as middle level curriculum, homework, and edTPA.

Dunn explained that her favorite session during the summit, entitled “Math Mindsets,” provided her with insight on changing students’ attitudes in the subject area of mathematics.

“It was a session about how to create activities and assessments that can help students understand math concepts more clearly and how to help the students that think differently than others,” explained Dunn.

Guest speakers for the summit included Dru Tomlin, Ph.D., Director of Middle Level Services for the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), and long-time, venerated leading voice of middle level education, John Lounsbury, Ph.D.

“The summit was a great hands on experience,” said teacher candidate Aaron Sikes. I was overjoyed to meet Dr. Lounsbury who has done so much for Middle Level Education.”

This Summit was sponsored by Georgia College’s chapter of the Collegiate Middle Level Association, a national organization for middle grades teacher candidates that is an affiliate of AMLE. The College of Education’s Amanda Wall, Ph.D., is the sponsor for Georgia Southern’s CMLA chapter.


Spreading awareness of school psychology

School psychology graduate students passed out candy and shared information about their future career field during School Psychology Awareness Week.

School psychology graduate students passed out candy and shared information about their future career field during School Psychology Awareness Week.

If you were on Georgia Southern University’s campus this week, you may have noticed students wearing stickers that said “Ask me about school psychology!,” or perhaps you saw the hashtag “#SmallStepsChangeLives” trending on social media. November 14-18 was School Psychology Awareness Week 2016 (SPAW), and College of Education graduate students in the Ed.S. School Psychology program created several activities to educate others about the field of school psychology.

School Psychology Awareness Week is an initiative promoted by the National Association of School Psychologists to educate the community about the various roles and functions of school psychologists,” explained Associate Professor and School Psychology Program Director, Dawn Tysinger, Ph.D., NCSP. “Our graduate students engaged in recruiting this week across the campus and on social media to promote the profession among our undergraduate population who could potentially become the next generation of school psychologists.”

On Monday and Tuesday, student leaders from the school psychology program and the School Psychology Student Association (SPSA) set up an information table in the University’s Carroll Building. Targeting undergraduate students pursuing liberal arts and social science degrees, program volunteers passed out candy, shared information about their degree program, and encouraged students to learn more about a career in school psychology.

Program representatives also attended the University’s Undergraduate Psychology Bash where they were able to share information about the specialty area of the school psychology and career opportunities with current psychology undergraduates.

All week long, candidates of the Ed.S. School Psychology program also wore stickers encouraging passersby to “Ask me about school psychology!,” and candidates took to social media to share their thoughts about the 2016 SPAW theme “Small Steps Change Lives!” with the SPAW poster activity.

Jessica Miller, a graduate assistant for the school psychology program and volunteer coordinator for SPSA, said undergraduate students were very interactive in the activities that took place throughout the week.

“Students we spoke with on campus seemed very receptive to learning about school psychology,” Miller said. “We especially saw a lot of interest from undergraduate psychology majors who wanted to learn more about the field and our Ed.S. graduate program here at the University. Many of these students were not previously aware that school psychology was a possible career path they could pursue.”

Additional activities included a SPSA sponsored student panel where current interns and practicum students in the school psychology program engaged in a dialogue about their field experiences with other individuals in the graduate program.

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Associate Professor Dawn Tysinger, Ph.D., NCSP (pictured front row, second from left), and her Ed.S. School Psychology graduate class participate in the SPAW poster activity.

Miller explained that educating the students at Georgia Southern about the school psychology discipline is important because of the impact that professionals in this field can make for students.

While it is a wonderful field, school psychology is still not a well-known profession,” Miller said. “We often get confused with school counselors, as many individuals are not aware of the distinction between these two careers.”

School counselors often serve the entire school population with focus on the academic careers of students. School psychologists, however, focus on proper adaptation and response to school environment. They are tasked with assisting students who are facing mental health, learning, and behavioral barriers to their education.  Their common roles in schools include consultation, academic intervention, behavioral intervention, assessment, individual counseling, group counseling, and crisis intervention.

Miller also explained that there is a national shortage of qualified professionals in this field.

“Due to this critical need, it is paramount to inform undergraduate students about our profession and encourage them to pursue a career path in school psychology,” she said.

To learn more about Georgia Southern University’s Ed.S. in School Psychology, please visit http://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/espy/eds/. For more information about the career field of school psychology, visit the National Association of School Psychologists website at https://www.nasponline.org/.


COE Visit Day hosts record numbers

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COE Visit Day attendees toured the University’s Botanic Gardens.

Standing in front of a room filled with potential students and their supporters, senior Special Education major Tyson Neurath declared, “I promise you will not regret one moment you spend at Georgia Southern.”

Student speaker for the College of Education’s Visit Day, Neurath shared her experiences at the University, highlighting several aspects that make both the COE and Georgia Southern an outstanding choice including the top-notch education programs, atmosphere of respect for others, diversity, and a beautiful campus.

A record-setting 39 high school and transfer students attended the College’s Visit Day which included meeting faculty and current students, education degree program information sessions, and campus tours. Throughout the day, many students commented on the positive reputation of the education programs at Georgia Southern as part of their reasoning for considering the University.

Rebecca Chancey, a transfer student from Savannah, explained that she was majoring in physical therapy at her previous school and wanted a change.

“I worked as a summer camp counselor for years and loved it,” she said. “When I worked specifically with the six-year-olds, it assured me of my choice to change to an early childhood education major.”

Chancy said that when considering her options, she spoke with several friends who completed education degrees from Georgia Southern, and they assisted her in making the decision.

“My friends could not speak more highly of their education programs and the campus, and when they graduated from Georgia Southern, they received jobs right away because people in education knew the ‘Georgia Southern’ name,” she added.

Elizabeth Dean, high school senior from Dalton, GA, said she was interested in the middle grades education program and was planning to attend Georgia Southern.

“Middle school is when students are trying to figure out who they are, and it’s a very influential time in their life,” said Dean. “I chose Georgia Southern because it’s big, but it still has that small feel…and I really like that.”

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Current student panel participants (l-r) Micaiah Watson, Hutch Swafford, Katelyn Chancey, Tyler Brownridge, and Tyson Neurath answered questions from COE Visit Day participants.

Participating students and supporters at the College’s Visit Day were treated to a lunch with faculty and staff representatives after which they toured the University’s Botanic Gardens and Old Schoolhouse. They also attended information sessions about the education degree programs and participated in a panel with current students. Representing a variety of COE programs, the current COE students participating in the student panel included Micaiah Watson (Early Childhood Education); Hutch Swafford (Middle Grades Education); Katelyn Chancey (Health and Physical Education); Tyler Brownridge (Early Childhood Education); and Tyson Neurath (Special Education).

During the current student panel, Watson emphasized to the attendees how important they are as future educators.

“In this field, you are working for more than just a paycheck; you are a role model,” Watson said. “You can have such a profound impact on a child’s life, and being a male, I have a unique perspective as these students need to see positive male influences in their school life.”

The College of Education hosts Visit Day twice each year. The next Visit Day will be held on February 3, 2017. For more information, visit http://admissions.georgiasouthern.edu/visit/on-campus-events/ and select “major-specific visits.”

To view photographs taken during the recent Visit Day, visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/georgiasouthernuniversitycollegeofeducation/


COE student organization raises funds for WJMS special education program

Pictured l-r: SCEC President Emily Lewis, WJMS Teacher Elizabeth Deal, and SCEC Historian Shannon Moore

The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) of Georgia Southern presented a donation to local special education teacher Elizabeth Deal on October 27. An educator at William James Middle School, Deal was trying to raise money to purchase new program materials to assist students with autism in enhancing their development of social skills. The SCEC’s donation fulfilled the remaining funds she needed.

“These program materials can be very expensive,” explained SCEC President Emily Lewis. “Ms. Deal is someone we observed in the classroom setting before, and we thought this was a great project. We know the money will go to good use in improving the education of her students.”

Funds were generated through a fundraiser night at a local restaurant. Lewis, a senior special education major, said many members of the community supported their efforts by dining and leaving additional donations for Deal’s project.

SCEC members are education majors who coordinate with the local community to provide service work for students with disabilities. Georgia Southern’s SCEC participate in activities such as the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk in Savannah and the local Parent to Parent Prom. SCEC hosts several fundraisers throughout the year to provide funding to projects such as Deal’s. Each year, the organization also raises money for the Bulloch County Special Olympics.

“The Student Council for Exceptional Children’s members are passionate and dedicated to serving students with disabilities in our community,” said Lewis. “Giving back to the teachers that work with these students every day is something we care about very much.”

SCEC is a student chapter of the national organization, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). CEC is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

For more information about the Student Council of Exceptional Children, contact faculty advisor Kathleen Tootle at ktootle@georgiasouthern.edu