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For the love of math: COE grad pursues teacher education degree to help others understand math

Graduating from Georgia Southern University and accepting a position as a 10th grade math teacher at Screven County High School in Sylvania, Georgia, is a full-circle moment for Abigail Craig.

When Craig finished high school she wasn’t interested in attending the Statesboro Campus, just 40 miles up the road from her hometown of Springfield, Georgia, or teaching. She was looking for independence and headed northwest to major in math.

There, a lackluster experience with a math professor was disappointing. However, the interaction inspired her future. 

“I love math,” said Craig. “It’s a really cool subject to teach if you can teach it well. I sat in this intro-level statistics class and knew it well enough from high school to be OK. But my classmates were bored and confused. This isn’t how math is supposed to be, and it is really what made my decision to pursue secondary math education.”

After two years away, Craig circled back closer to home and transferred to Georgia Southern where she could pursue her desire to become a teacher.

“I love Georgia Southern so much, and that was a surprise,” said Craig. “I really didn’t want to like Southern, so that should really say more about how much I have enjoyed it here. It exceeded my expectations.”

Craig’s timing also allowed her to take part in the College of Education’s pilot year of the paid residency program. Among the first cohort of students to be placed in Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS), Craig has been working as a full-time teacher of record at Hubert Middle School since fall 2020.

The paid residency program places two teacher candidates from the University as resident teachers at a SCCPSS school to fill two vacant teaching positions and with a $19,000 salary, along with full-time benefits as a teacher. The COE students in residency work as the teacher of record in the classroom and continue their studies at Georgia Southern for the final year of their education programs, while also receiving mentorship from a full-time teacher at the school and support from COE faculty members.

“When the University began recruiting for this program in January 2020, we did not know COVID would be coming,” said Craig. “My experience during this program has been different due to COVID. We started virtual learning in the fall, working from home. We were trying to get used to the program and set up our virtual classrooms, while trying to meet other teachers in the school and our team lead — all virtually.”

While maintaining a full-time position, Craig and fellow COE student DeWayne McBride-Brown who is also placed at Hubert Middle, completed required coursework for their respective programs.

“It’s been crazy, but it was a really good experience,” said Craig. “It has been helpful and people have been really supportive. DeWayne and I share a mentor teacher. Her whole job is just to help us out. Teachers would just stop by and check on me. The math department head would sit in on my classes and highlight what I was doing really well.”

As Craig graduates this week, she will have completed her coursework and a year of her teaching career.

“I’ve always wanted to be a high school math teacher, and I am excited to join Screven County High in the fall,” she said.

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