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Georgia Southern doctoral graduate educating through comedy, hip-hop

Chris Pugh, Ed.D.

On Friday, May 10, Chris Pugh, will stand on the commencement stage and be hooded to symbolize the completion of the Educational Doctorate in Curriculum Studies program at Georgia Southern University. But to Pugh, this moment will symbolize so much more.

“In every program I have been in at Georgia Southern, I have experienced some form of adversity, but I kept going,” Pugh said.

During his undergraduate degree, Pugh faced academic exclusion, during which he returned home to Dekalb County, Georgia, and worked three jobs simultaneously until he realized he was ready to return to college and finish what he started. After earning a bachelor’s in broadcasting, Pugh pursued a master’s in school counseling, a program he was accepted into on a probationary basis due to his low grade point average.

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Hart’s heart for helping others

Family of Christine Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., presented the scholarship to health and physical education major Mary Hart during a Georgia Southern Eagles baseball game. Pictured (l-r) are: Sara Johnson, Mary Hart, Kelsey Johnson Sears and Scott Sears.

Like many 16 and 17 year olds trying to determine the next steps of their lives after high school, Mary Hart said thinking about her future was overwhelming. At that time, she knew she wanted to attend college but wasn’t sure which path to take.

“I tried to consider things I was passionate about and interested in and blend them together into an ideal job,” she said.

Her passion for helping others and her interests in holistic health led her to the undergraduate health and physical education program at Georgia Southern University.

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Read Woke creator, Georgia Southern alumna recognized as Mover & Shaker

Cicely Lewis

Named a Library Journal 2019 Mover & Shaker, Gwinnett County Public Schools’ 2019 Library Media Specialist of the Year, and the 2019 Metro Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year, Cicely Lewis is making a name for herself as an innovator in the field of education.

After more than 15 years of experience as a high school language arts and Spanish teacher, Lewis decided to make a career change to pursue a passion her colleagues and students continuously praised her for.

“I would host these huge events in my classrooms like poetry cafes and Harlem Renaissance celebrations, and other students in the school would come by and say, ‘I wish I could be in your class so I could participate,’” Lewis recalled.

With a talent for instructional technology and innovative reading curriculum, Lewis sought a school library media certificate from Georgia Southern University College of Education to make the transition from the classroom to media specialist.

“I selected Georgia Southern because the program was completely online and the university has an impressive reputation among educators,” Lewis said. “I learned so much from the school library program at Georgia Southern. The program was very challenging. Many times I didn’t think I could complete all of the work, but I persevered.”

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Georgia Southern and Haven Elementary partner for educator program

Jackie Kim, Ed.D.

Georgia Southern University and Haven Elementary School are partnering to offer teachers a Gratifying Problem-Solving (GPS) program, which will provide educators unique monthly professional development based on the school’s current need for improved mathematics instruction.

The College of Education’s Jackie Kim, Ed.D., associate professor of elementary and special education, serves as director for the project, totaling $74,976, which is funded by a Community Partnership Grant from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. 

The GPS program uses a bottom-up approach, allowing the participants at Haven Elementary to help shape its development, workshop activities and directive.

“We go to find out what their inquiries and needs are and create a workshop based on the assessment,” said Kim. “We want to start with what they are currently doing in the classroom and change their practice to make instruction stronger yet doable.”

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Students simulate poverty, learn about socioeconomic challenges

Students participated in a poverty simulation to help them understand circumstances of families and students who are experiencing financial difficulties.

What if you had to choose between feeding your family and keeping the power on in your home? What if you lost your job and spent hours, days and even weeks trying to figure out how to receive assistance to help keep a roof over your family’s head?

Students in the Georgia Southern University College of Education were asked to put themselves in scenarios like these during a recent poverty simulation hosted by the College’s faculty and staff.

Education majors were required to complete this role play activity as a part of a cultural issues course in order to expose student teachers to the low socioeconomic challenges many of their K-12 students experience.

“It is important that as teachers we look deeper into why a student did not complete an assignment or falls asleep in class rather than assuming a student is lazy or otherwise unengaged,” said Michelle Reidel, Ph.D., professor of middle grades and secondary education. “We need to understand that problems in the classroom are not always a direct result of a student’s desire to learn. There are external factors that could be playing a role in their performance or behavior. We have to consider that not all students are having their basic needs met at home.”

Scott Beck, Ph.D., associate professor of middle grades and secondary education, added, “Teachers need to understand that students’ families are working hard to meet those basic needs, but face confusing, contradictory and problematic choices every day.”

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