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Compelled to mentor, graduate redirects studies to coach and teach

Nathan Kistler pictured with Georgia Southern’s live mascot, Freedom

Following his final wrestling match at Forsyth Central High School, Nathan Kistler left the mat with a newfound vision — to become a coach and teacher and provide the same mentorship that he received throughout school. Yet, as a new student at Georgia Southern University, Kistler chose to study business.

“I had people tell me that I wouldn’t make any money as a teacher and that it can be hard behind the scenes, and I got discouraged,” said Kistler. “I thought business would be a better path.”

However, Kistler couldn’t muster enthusiasm for business courses.

“I had to push hard to want to do the school work,” explained Kistler. “I can be creative and thought I could use those skills for sales and advertising, but I was really not listening to myself. What I wanted was to work with students.”

Kistler changed his major to middle grades education, and the impact was immediate.

“It was a lot different than I thought it would be,” he said. “When it came to my education courses, I didn’t have to push so hard to pay attention. I was excited.”

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Finding his vocation: An education graduate works with students with disabilities

Benjamin Mitchell (pictured right) with wife Amber and son.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Southern University Double Eagle Benjamin Mitchell (’11,’20) has been teaching students with disabilities from home.

Mitchell is a special education teacher at Wacona Elementary School in Waycross, Georgia, where he has worked with fourth and fifth grade students for four years.

“The worry is of course that they don’t have the constant support they need,” said Mitchell. “But we continue to reinforce the basic concepts and reinforce fundamentals. At the end of the day, I care about their success, and I make sure they know that.”

Mitchell and his students check in at least once a week via Google or Zoom. 

“With fourth and fifth grade students, they are really coming into their own personalities,” he said. “It’s important to get to know your students and show them that you will hold them accountable and celebrate their victories with them.”

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Research experience opened doors for graduate student’s future

Alex Allmond

Alex Allmond recently secured an internship in Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Georgia, to complete the requirements for an Ed.S. in school psychology from Georgia Southern University. While her exceptional academic performance no doubt helped Allmond become a candidate of consideration, she says it was her research experience that made her stand out from other candidates.

In 2018-2019, Allmond served as an editorial assistant for the College of Education (COE) professor Sally Brown, Ph.D., to help edit the journal Talking Points. Allmond continued her work with Brown the following year, serving in a graduate assistant position funded by a COE seed grant, “Extending the Knowledge Base of 21st Century Multilingual Young Writers: A Holistic Writing Scale.” As a result, Allmond assisted with Brown’s research on emergent bilingual learners.

“This work stood out on my resume and in my interview,” said Allmond. “It made them take a second look and want to take a chance on me.”

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Georgia Southern recent graduate named regional award winner for school library media

Dixie Shoemaker, Ed.S.
Dixie Shoemaker, Ed.S., loves to have fun with her students to encourage reading and literacy education.

Two weeks before participating in Georgia Southern University’s virtual graduation to earn an Ed.S. in instructional technology from the College of Education, Dixie Shoemaker became the recipient of the prestigious 2020 East Georgia Regional Library Media Specialist of the Year award from the Georgia Library Media Association (GLMA). The honor recognizes K-12 library media specialists whose instructional collaborations foster student engagement and achievement through innovative programs. 

“I was honored and humbled that so people would take the time to nominate me,” said Shoemaker. 

Shoemaker is entering her sixth year as the media specialist at Copeland Elementary School in Augusta, Georgia. Prior to that, she served as an elementary classroom teacher for nine years.

“As a classroom teacher, I found myself being the one that always jumped on the newest technology and would help others learn how to use it,” she said. “I loved my kids, and I still wanted to be with them, so I did extensive research on what jobs I might want to do with technology. Once I figured out I wanted to work as a library media specialist, I did additional research to find what schools offered this program, looking at their reviews, flexibility and affordability.”

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College of Education awards internal research and scholarship support for 2020-21

Each year, the College of Education (COE) provides internal support for faculty research and scholarship projects in efforts to support the institutional research agenda of the College, have a significant impact on the college’s outreach to P-12 and community constituents, and enhance the college’s capacity to conduct significant education scholarship. The COE hosts opportunities for internal research/scholarship support by competitively reviewing annual proposals for seed grant funding as well as requests for a research assistant position filled by a current graduate student.

The College’s Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Committee awarded funding for four projects in Spring 2020, and one one research assistantship for 2020-2021 was granted to a College faculty member. Applications were reviewed by the Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Committee who served as the advisory body to the senior leadership team, including the dean.

Faculty members Anne Katz, Ph.D., Amanda Glaze-Crampes, Ph.D., Selçuk Dogan, Ph.D., and Aslihan Unal, Ph.D. (collaboratively), and Juliann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D., were recipients of internal seed grant funding. Sally Brown, Ph.D. was awarded the research assistantship.

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