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Renowned educational theorist, teacher educator to lead Georgia Southern 2021 Fries Lecture

Gloria Ladson-Billings, Ph.D., renowned pedagogical theorist, teacher educator and author, will present the 2021 Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture, hosted by Georgia Southern University’s College of Education. 

The lecture will take place virtually via Zoom on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

In her lecture, “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Educating Past Pandemics,” Ladson-Billings will discuss how pandemics provide opportunities for revisioning and reimagining culturally relevant teaching practices. She suggests that instead of “getting back to normal,” it is time to get on to new and more equitable ways of educating all students and creating a more democratic society.

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‘65 years old and not done yet,’ former marketing professional earns master’s in special education to work with children

Darlene Williams, '20
Darlene Williams, ’20

When Darlene Williams began pursuing her master’s degree in special education at Georgia Southern University, she had not attended college in more than 37 years.

Following a 30-year career in sales and marketing, Williams decided to chase a new dream.

“I started substitute teaching in October 2013, and one of my first assignments was in a high school special education classroom,” she said. “That is all it took. I thought to myself, ‘this is where I am supposed to be.’”

After earning a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Buffalo in 1981, Williams initially thought she would one day make the transition from her business career to become a math teacher.

“I never thought I’d teach special education at all,” she said. “Divine intervention is all I can say.”

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From the Bronx to Statesboro, a graduate’s dream to teach children turned into a reality

Jaisha Nivens, ’20

Born in the Bronx, New York, Jaisha Nivens was in high school when she and her three brothers relocated to Hinesville, Georgia, for her oldest brother’s military assignment at Fort Stewart and a fresh start.

“My older brother took us in because we were living in a bad situation,” she explained. “He was only 22 at the time, but he was a good role model. The experience humbled and shaped me.”

While a student at Liberty County High School, Nivens participated in an Early Education Career Pathway, which provided experiences at local daycare centers and elementary schools.

“I realized I was really interested in working with kids, but I just wasn’t sure in what capacity,” said Nivens. “Once the career pathway program placed me in a third grade classroom, I loved it.”

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Energy grant provides Effingham school opportunity to study smart home technology

What does a teenager know about energy usage and costs in their homes?

That is one of the questions that Georgia Southern University’s Kania Greer, Ed.D., will ask local students with a new grant-funded program in Effingham County. Greer, coordinator of the College of Education’s Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe) was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from energy company Constellation, an Exelon company, for a partnership with the Effingham College and Career Academy and the Effingham County Schools STEM Program.

The project, called Engaging Students in Engineering Education (E-SEE), will bring the curriculum to over 200 students in Effingham County through the lens of smart home devices.

“Smart devices are all around us,” said Greer. “More and more students are utilizing this technology daily to access different aspects of their lives. However, not many students realize how many smart devices are in their home. From simple to complex, these devices can have an impact on energy usage — from regulating temperature to turning off lights.”

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Georgia Southern school psychology student pursues children’s literature dream

As many sheltered in place this year to stop the spread of COVID-19, Georgia Southern University graduate student Jasmine Edge saw an opportunity to achieve a goal she set out to do years before.

A graduate of Spelman College and former pre-K and kindergarten teacher, Edge loved the classroom and her students. 

“I really enjoyed spending time with students in the classroom setting, especially inspiring an interest for reading in my students,” she said. “The read-alouds were my favorite thing to do with my students. I was the teacher who got into it. I would change the intonation and the volume of my voice to match what was happening in the story. That is where my interest in children’s books was cultivated.”

Children’s literature has been proven to be a powerful tool in early learning. Edge felt inspired by the innovation of the books she read to her students.

“I was impressed by the way that authors and illustrators convey a range of meaningful and informative messages as well as fun and silly content that are both creative and developmentally appropriate in children’s literature,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘I want to do that.’”

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