At Risk High Schoolers Get a Unique Look at Georgia Southern

Riding a zip-line through a remote forested area of Georgia Southern University’s campus is not a traditional path to a college education, but for a group of 14 year-old boys it may have been just what they needed.

“Just providing the experience sometimes is enough to open their eyes to life’s possibilities,” said Assistant Professor Eric Landers, co-director of the College of Education’s National Youth-At-Risk Center (NYAR), which sponsored the group. The students, 9th-grade boys from Richmond Hill High School in Richmond Hill, GA, were on campus earlier this month completing the Challenge Course offered by Campus Recreation & Intramurals, touring the campus and enjoying a meal at a dining hall. The students had been identified by school counselors as at-risk, said Assistant Principal Cleave Bivins Miller.

“The ability to combine both the ropes course with the university campus experience was certainly eye opening for all students involved,” Miller said. The students began their day on the Challenge Course, encouraging each other on the 40 ft. high pole climb and the pine forest zip line. “Our hope was to encourage the camaraderie amongst peers while involving them in an activity that would promote team building,” Miller said.

The NYAR Center, which opened last year, develops, coordinates, and extends further the ongoing efforts of the College of Education to foster the intellectual, social, emotional and physical well-being of youth placed at risk by providing professional development, research support, and resource assistance for educators serving these youth within the geographical service region of Georgia Southern and beyond.

For the Richmond Hill group, their day at Georgia Southern may have been life-changing. “The ability to tour the campus and have lunch in the dining hall allowed our students the opportunity to truly experience the campus life and envision themselves in a similar position less than four years down the road,” Miller noted.

Landers concurred. “The students had a wonderful time. They enjoyed the Challenge Course but more importantly they started asking questions about how they could come to Georgia Southern. Some asked about performing arts, ROTC, and even participating in fraternities,” he said.

Landers explained that youth-at-risk are not defined by a characteristic like ethnicity, gender or social class. Any youth can be placed at risk depending on the circumstances around them. “Our job is to identify the circumstances that are placing these kids at risk and provide support,” he added.

For some at risk students, just having the opportunity to experience a university in this unique way may be enough to spur them on to pursue college.

Miller agrees: “We look forward to the continued partnerships with Dr. Landers and Georgia Southern in offering our students opportunities to learn and reach their potential through activities such as these,” he said.

High schoolers went through Southern's Challenge Course before  touring the campus.

High schoolers went through Southern’s Challenge Course before touring the campus.

Georgia Southern University College of Education Tapped by Carnegie Foundation

STATESBORO, Ga. – April 9, 2014 – Georgia Southern University’s redesigned doctorate in educational leadership offered through the College of Education (COE) has been accepted into the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate (CPED), an elite consortium of colleges and schools of education charged with transforming the Ed.D. into “the degree of choice” for the next generation of practitioner leaders at all levels of education, from K-12 to higher education.


“We’re preparing a new kind of educational leader that didn’t exist before, one that is equipped to make the big decisions of tomorrow based on solid research and educational theory,” said Georgia Southern University President Brooks A. Keel. “Being asked to apply to CPED was an honor in itself, and being accepted as a member is a testament of how our College of Education has moved the Ed.D. into the 21st century. It puts us in the enviable position of being ahead of the curve.”


With the addition of COE into the consortium, there are now 87 schools or colleges of education working in collaboration to redesign the educational leadership doctorate out of an estimated 1,200 programs across the country. A faculty-led effort, the consortium, headquartered at the School of Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., is an action-oriented initiative to develop a clear distinction between the “professional practice doctorate in education (Ed.D.) and the education research doctorate (Ph.D.); and to improve the reliability and efficacy of programs leading to the professional doctorate in education.”


“We are especially pleased that we have been accepted as a member of this important group whose goals clearly align with the College’s commitment to bring research, theory and practice to bear on all our degrees as we prepare educators and educational leaders for the next generation in our state and region,” said COE Dean Thomas R. Koballa, Jr.


COE accepted its first cohort into the redesigned educational leadership doctorate in fall 2013. It is a professional practice degree with unique characteristics apart from those usually associated with the research doctorate. “Our degree, and what CPED is charged with developing, is more relevant for the advanced preparation of school practitioners, academic leaders and professional staff for the nation’s schools and colleges, even for those in the business world,” said Devon Jensen, COE’s higher education leadership doctoral program coordinator.


“Students seeking advanced degrees in education leadership, really anyone in a leadership position regardless of the sector in which they work, needs the training and the tools to be able to solve the big issues facing their institutions. It’s all about the application of research to solve complex problems that school leaders face,” Jensen continued. “CPED membership gives the College the opportunity to enter into dialogue with other education institutions sharing the same goals, to be prepared to change, to experiment and to welcome critical feedback,” Jensen explained.


Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers 125 degree programs serving more than 20,500 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement.  Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit:

Conference Focuses on Needs of Youth At Risk

STATESBORO – February 4, 2014 –Georgia Southern University’s National Youth-At-Risk Center  will welcome more than a thousand educators, social workers, community leaders and researchers from across the United States and internationally during the 25th annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah, Ga., March 2-5.

It is one of the country’s premier conferences focusing on the needs of youth at risk—especially raising the achievement of underperforming students. “This is such an important conference because it not only looks at what risks today’s youth face but also presents proactive solutions and best practices for meeting these serious challenges,” said Thomas Koballa, dean of the College of Education which houses the National Youth-At-Risk Center and sponsors the conference along with the Division of Continuing Education. Speakers and workshops will look at such issues as school violence, poverty, learning difficulties, underachievement, bullying and dysfunctional families .

The National Youth-At-Risk Conference will also honor “High Flying Schools” which have made significant achievement in academic and community arenas. These schools have at least 50 percent of their students living at or below the poverty level and have a diverse student body.

The High Flying Schools for 2014 are:

High Flying School Award Winners

Northington Elementary – Tuscaloosa, AL

North Vista Elementary – Florence, SC

Loris Elementary – Loris, SC

High Flying School Honorable Mentions

Cambridge Elementary, Cocoa, FL

Oak Hill Middle, Milledgeville, GA

Fowler Drive Elementary, Athens, GA

C.G. Woodson Elementary, Jacksonville, FL

Information and registration is available at

Conference coordinators in the College of Education are Dr. Dan Rea ( and Dr. Eric Landers (

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 120 degree programs serving more than 20,500 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement.  In 2011, the University was named one of the Top 10 most popular universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report and is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars.  Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit:

COE Earns Top 50 Ranking in U.S. News & World Report Online Graduate Report

Georgia Southern University College of Education earned a top 50 ranking in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Graduate Education Programs” released January 8. “We’re pleased to be in the top tier, said COE Dean Thomas R. Koballa, Jr., Ph.D. “The College of Education continues its commitment to offer high-quality online graduate programs and expand the options available to best serve our students,” he said.

“Our online classes meet high standards for excellence,” Koballa continued. “We have a committed faculty trained to teach distance learners, and students from across the region and state know they will be engaged in a rigorous graduate program that furthers their career as an educator in many professional settings,” he said. The U.S. News rankings are compiled annually and take into account such factors as student engagement, which includes retention and graduation rates; admissions selectivity; peer reputation; faculty credentials and training; and student services and technology. The rankings included 238 public and private institutions offering online education programs.

“The rankings are a good place to start your search for an online graduate education program,” Koballa said, “but we also encourage students to contact our Graduate Academic Services Center where they can speak with trained advisors, faculty and peers about our online programs.”

The methodology used for this year’s rankings changed significantly from the previous two years’ rankings U.S. News said in releasing the new data. Program ratings by peer institutions were added this year and improved data collection allowed additional emphasis on student engagement.

For more information on the rankings, go to


Assistant Professor Amelia Davis Featured on Henderson Library Web

Assistant Professor Amelia Davis, Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, is the featured faculty on the Zach Henderson Library’s “Selected Works” website. Check out Dr. Davis’ work here: Selected Works of C. Amelia Davis

College of Education • P.O. Box 8013 • Statesboro, Georgia 30460 • (912) 478-5648