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Like mother like daughter, education major inspired to teach others

Alexandria Sledge, 2020 Black Women Empowerment Award Recipient

Sophomore elementary education major Alexandria Sledge is quick to praise the women in her life for their strength, independence, dedication to others and for inspiring her to pursue a career in teaching.

“My grandmother raised two children on her own,” said Sledge. “She is really big on helping others. It doesn’t matter what she has going on, she is going to put everything aside to make sure you are okay and have everything you need. The same thing for my mother. She is a fourth grade teacher, and she goes the extra mile to take care of others. I also have a godmother who has been in my life for 18 years, and she runs a daycare and does such a good job that all of the kids keep in touch with her and treat her like family.”

When asked why she wanted to become a teacher, Sledge said she wanted to be just like the women in her life. 

From working part-time as a mentor at Savannah’s Deep Center, a nonprofit literacy and arts center for Chatham County youth, to teaching children’s church, Sledge enjoys helping others. Carrying that passion over to her career aspirations, Sledge said studying elementary education is fun.

“I already envision my classroom as a space that will be open and engaging,” she said. “I won’t have students come in and just open a book and do a worksheet. I think it’s important to balance teaching elementary students both life skills and fundamental concepts.”

For Sledge, it was her fourth grade teacher, Lindsey Miller Buck at Marsh Point Elementary School, that made school a place she wanted to be. 

“She was a first-year teacher when I had her, and you couldn’t even tell,” said Sledge. “She taught me everything from how to write a check to the fundamentals in all subject areas. I still keep in touch with her to this day.”

Sledge attends Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus, so she can remain close to her family and stay active in her community. Born and raised in Savannah, she was once a youth participant at the Deep Center and now works as a mentor in the writing center. 

“My work in the Deep writing center really has helped get my feet wet for lesson planning and working with students,” said Sledge.

Sledge is currently observing a second grade classroom, an ideal grade she says she would like to teach.

“It’s an inclusion classroom with students ranging from gifted to special education, so I am getting to see how everyone learns differently and how the teacher varies her lessons for them,” said Sledge. “I really enjoy this class. I am excited to go see them every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Her compassion for others, as well as her academic achievements led to her recent acknowledgement as a Georgia Southern 2020 Black Women Empowerment Award honoree. In its second year, the Shine, Black Girl, Shine event is hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Sledge was one of eight to be honored at the awards event hosted Feb. 29.

“I didn’t think I would be a finalist,” said Sledge. “When I saw the email saying ‘congratulations,’ I was so excited. I see other people who are very involved, and I just thought I wouldn’t really get it, but my education professor for science, Dr. David Owens, reached out and wanted to nominate me. I am so thankful he did.”

“Alexandria stood out as a model student, not just for her own strong performance in the science class, but more so for her willingness and eagerness to share her talents in order to bring her classmates up to speed with concepts she had mastered,” said David Owens, Ph.D. “I figured those positive behavior traits were likely manifest in other parts of her life, so I wasn’t surprised when Alexandria was selected for this award.”

Sledge says she was honored to receive the award with her mother present cheering her on.

“Good deeds come back to you,” she said. “It may not happen right away, but some way, somehow, they will come back to you.”

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