CSU Summer Camp to Bring Future Teachers, Kids Together for Ultimate Educational Experience

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University is hosting an innovative educational summer camp this June that will have young students and teacher candidates learning together.

Children ages 4-11 are invited to enroll in Summer Spectacular, offered by CSU’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program in the Department of Teacher Education. Summer Spectacular combines two experiences in one. ECE students will gain valuable teaching experience, while young minds will engage in hands-on, enriched learning activities. Parents can rest assured that their children will receive personal attention from students of a nationally accredited program that was named the 2016-2017 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education by the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators (GATE).

This year’s Summer Spectacular theme is “Exploring Georgia.” Using science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM), teachers and students will team up to learn about three regions of the state: the Coastal Plains, Piedmont and Northern Georgia.

Kmiko Johnson, a CSU ECE major and Summer Spectacular teacher candidate, plans to construct a river with her campers, complete with running water, a canoe, campsite, plants and animals that are representative of Northern Georgia.

“Summer Spectacular is a project-based learning experience,” said Johnson. “It’s really an exploration. By building and creating, it’s amazing how much students can learn, and I’m learning at the same time.”

ECE students receive 12 credit hours for their participation in Summer Spectacular, the equivalent of a semester’s worth of coursework. More importantly, CSU students are gaining confidence.

“Summer Spectacular will give me the confidence to manage a classroom of 25 students,” said Summer Watson, a senior ECE major. “CSU sets you up so that you are learning hands-on. You get to learn your own teaching style.”

“CSU’s Department of Education absolutely has the best professors,” said Ieshia Davis, a senior ECE major, who is planning to teach about the Piedmont region with Watson. “Our professors have all had experience in the classroom, so they have prepared us for this full-on experience.”

Summer Spectacular runs June 5-29, Monday-Thursday, from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per week per child or $140 for all four weeks and includes a t-shirt, all supplies and snacks. Registration is first-come, first-served. Up to 75 spots are available per week. Camp will take place at Gentian Elementary School. For more information or to register, please visit coehp.columbusstate.edu/summer-spectacular.

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CSU’s Early Childhood Education Program Named Georgia’s Distinguished Program in Teacher Education

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University’s Early Childhood Education Program (ECED) was recently nominated and selected for the Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award for 2016-2017 by the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators (GATE).

“It is an honor to have the Early Childhood Education Program at CSU recognized by GATE,” said Jan Burcham, department chair and program coordinator for CSU’s Teacher Leadership Program. “Our ECE faculty and students continually serve as leaders in the state, region and nation, and this award once again shows that the ECE program is, indeed, first choice!”


The annual award recognizes and honors outstanding teacher education programs which exemplify excellence in program development and administration in the state of Georgia.

The ECED program will be honored on Thursday, October 27 at the GATE annual conference in Young Harris, Georgia.


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Brilliant Bus Tour Stops at Columbus State University

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Estella’s Brilliant Bus made a stop at Columbus State University Saturday, July 16, where 100 middle school students from across the nation competed in an engineering activity sponsored by CSU’s UTeach and Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship programs.

Estella’s Brilliant Bus is a Florida-based mobile learning environment founded by Estella Pyfrom, who spent her entire life savings to purchase, equip and operate a bus that delivers technology to underserved children and delivers children to some of the nation’s most innovative centers.

Columbus State University was one of the first stops on Estella’s 2016 tour of top institutions for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Participants competed to design a container that safely transported an egg passenger to the ground from the top of CSU’s basketball arena.

“The bus tour is an outstanding program that has received national recognition, so we were excited that our students had the opportunity to interact with Mrs. Estella’s passengers and let them know about CSU’s outstanding opportunities for studying STEM related fields,” said Kenneth Jones, master teacher for CSU’s UTeach program. “It is especially exciting that our students had the opportunity to meet a visionary educator like Mrs. Estella Pyfrom.”

Pyfrom was named a 2014 CNN Hero, presented by Sarah Silverman, and a recipient of Toyota’s 2014 Standing O-Vation Award, presented by Oprah. Her Brilliant Bus was featured in Microsoft’s 2015 Super Bowl ad. For more information about Estella’s Brilliant Bus, visit http://estellasbrilliantbus.org/.


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CSU Summer Spectacular Reaches out to Children

Columbus State education majors work with children participating in a Summer Spectacular 2013 learning activity.

Columbus State education majors work with children participating in a Summer Spectacular 2013 learning activity.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University will again offer its popular Summer Spectacular summer enrichment program for children ages 4-11, this year at Downtown Elementary School, 1400 1st Ave.

The spectacular runs from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays from June 9-July 3.

Started in 2005, the program offers families an alternative, fun learning opportunity while CSU teacher education students gain valuable field experience and more freedom in their approach to curriculum and teaching styles.

This year’s Summer Spectacular theme is Space: Full STEAM Ahead, with STEAM representing science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

Registration is now open on a first-come, first-served basis. A waiting list will be developed, allowing more children to be added if others drop out. The cost is $40 per week per child, or $140 for all four weeks, with the fee paid in advance. The fees include all supplies, snacks and a T-shirt.

To register, visit http://ColumbusState.edu/coehp/summer-spectacular.php. For more information, contact summerspectacular@ColumbusState.edu or 706-569-2888.

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Columbus State University Hosts edTPA Faculty Preparation Workshop

CSU Provost Tom Hackett welcomes participants at edTPA Faculty Preparation Workshop.

CSU Provost Tom Hackett welcomes participants at edTPA Faculty Preparation Workshop.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Education faculty from colleges and universities throughout Georgia flocked to Columbus State University recently for training in a new teacher preparation assessment.

Columbus State hosted 179 participants for the April 11 edTPA Training Workshop. Thirty of CSU’s education faculty acted as facilitators — along with colleagues from Georgia State, Shorter College and Valdosta State, the Board of Regents and Georgia’s Professional Standards Commission — for sessions that ran from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The edTPA is a Teacher Performance Assessment tool developed by Stanford University education faculty. Starting in fall 2015, teacher candidates, also known as pre-service teachers, in universities across Georgia will have to pass the edTPA. For future teachers, edTPA is a critical assessment of their pre-teaching service portfolio, and their failure to earn certification could impact their institutions’ teacher education programs.

“(The edTPA) is robust, to say the least, but it’s all based on best practices,” said Pam Wetherington, CSU’s edTPA coordinator. “Because it’s consequential — meaning they have to pass it in order to get certified to actually even teach in our state, possibly even other states — we are helping train faculty across the state and getting them ready to help prepare their candidates, their pre-service teachers.”

Wetherington said the workshop was a collaborative effort with facilitators working collectively within the state to prepare teaching candidates, and that the results benefit everyone.

“It’s not just about our (CSU) candidates, but about impacting p-12 (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) learners,” Wetherington said. “Because the better our candidates are, the better the students will be.”

The objective of Saturday’s workshop is for education faculty to take what they learned back to their campuses and train their teaching candidates for the edTPA.

“There’s lots at stake here,” Wetherington said. “This is very significant.”


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Governor: Columbus State Selected for STEM Fellowships

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Columbus State will be among five Georgia universities participating in a national initiative to boost the number of outstanding STEM teachers — in science, technology, engineering and math — and how they’re prepared to teach.

Georgia will be the first state in the South to join the growing national Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships program, Deal said. Other Georgia institutions selected to participate are Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University and Piedmont College.

“STEM education plays a critical role in our state’s competitiveness and future economic prosperity,” Deal said. “The most important thing we can do for our students in this field is ensure they have effective teachers. The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships will encourage more partnerships between institutions of higher education and our K-12 schools to improve educational opportunities for students in this critical area.”

Each of the five institutions will develop a model master’s-level teacher preparation program, offering fellows a rigorous yearlong experience in local school classrooms. The process is similar to a physician’s hospital-based training in conjunction with a medical school. Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows receive $30,000 stipends to use during the master’s program. In exchange, they commit to teach in a high-need urban or rural school in Georgia for three years, with ongoing mentoring. Nearly two dozen Georgia school districts are being considered as partner sites.

“Study after study shows that teachers are the single most important in-school factor in improving student achievement,” said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “Yet urban and rural schools consistently struggle to attract and retain strong math and science teachers. Nationally, 30 to 40 percent of all teachers leave the profession during their first three years in the classroom, and more in high-need districts. So there’s a genuine need for these new teachers, and for innovative preparation that will help keep them in the classroom.”

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation will create and administer the program, with in-state coordination by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and support from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Current project funding is $9.36 million.

“An investment in math, science and technology education is an investment in Georgia’s future,” said P. Russell Hardin, president of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. “We are proud to be able to help bring this program to Georgia and to strengthen the pipeline of excellent teachers for the Georgia students who need them the most.”

The university partners, selected in a statewide review by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, have 19 months to tailor programs that meet the fellowship’s standards for intensive clinical work and rigorous related coursework. The first fellows will be selected in spring 2015, start their academic programs in fall 2015 and be ready to teach in fall 2016.

The participating universities will receive $400,000 matching grants to develop their teacher preparation programs based on standards set by the foundation. For each of the program’s three years, the participating Georgia colleges and universities will be able to enroll 12 fellows, totaling 180 fellows over that three-year period. Given the state’s shortage of secondary-level STEM teachers, the foundation is looking for additional partners and funders to expand the program.

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Columbus State Among Best Georgia Schools for Teacher Education

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University is ranked among Georgia’s best colleges and university options for teacher education.

The College Database, which bills itself as “the most current and comprehensive source for U.S. college and university data,” recently released its new “Top Colleges in Georgia: Shaping the Next Generation” list, which highlights the state’s colleges and universities that produce the most teacher education graduates.

“Many colleges and universities have tremendous teacher education programs,” said Doug Jones, founder of The College Database. “But which ones are producing the most young educators today? We wanted to identify the colleges making the largest impact on our students.”

The College Database, which ranked CSU No. 11 in Georgia, used these criteria to identify top colleges shaping the next generation:

 •  Must be fully accredited
 •  Four-year colleges only
 •  Public or private, not-for-profit colleges only
 •  Minimum of 10 graduates from education or teaching programs in 2012

Columbus State offers 15 undergraduate education degree options and nearly twice that many on the graduate level, including a doctorate and several online, endorsement and certificate options.

The College Database is a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide free information about education options both nationally and locally to students, parents and others. For details on the state rankings, visit the organization’s Georgia rankings page.

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CSU Student Teachers Offer Extra Help to Two Schools

roger hatcher quoteCOLUMBUS, Ga. — When Fox and Mulberry Creek elementary schools asked for help, Columbus State University answered with an emphatic yes.

CSU mobilized its student teachers to those Muscogee and Harris county schools to help improve test scores, and the effort yielded positive results.

“We’ve seen a substantial gain in test scores,” said Penny Thornton, Fox Elementary principal. “The actual scores will not come out until the start of the new school year, but we know that there has been a great deal of improvement with our students. CSU played a large part in that.”

Fox is among 35 schools in Muscogee and Harris counties, plus Fort Benning, where CSU places its student teachers. Fox became a place of interest when, during a discussion at an education conference, Thornton expressed a need for extra hands to do what she and her staff wanted to do with Fox students. Counting teachers assigned to classrooms, and those in the Physical Education for Early Childhood class assigned to afterschool activities and tutoring, CSU placed 35-40 students on Fox’s campus throughout the 2012-2013 school year.

“We saw that as an opportunity to go in and see if we could make an even bigger difference at a site,” said Roger Hatcher, director of CSU’s Center for Quality Teaching and Learning. “Our response was, ‘Let’s see what we can do to help.'”

The work at Fox represented a fundamental change in how Columbus State’s Early Childhood Program students are taught. Barbara Buckner, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, changed that. Now, student teachers are in a yearlong internship in one school. They not only do their last semester of practicum in the fall at one school with their assigned teacher, they also remain with that teacher the next semester for their student teaching experience.

“They stay with one teacher the entire year which, of course, helps them build rapport with those students, and with that teacher,” Hatcher said.

CSU doubled the number of practicum students last spring at Fox from one — which is the norm — per assigned teacher to two. Fox administrators expressed a need for additional help to allow its staff to customize their instruction. With the extra student help, Fox teachers were able to break their classes into smaller groups and offer more individualized instruction, something they could not successfully do before.

“[CSU student teachers] were committed to the students,” Thornton said. “They quickly learned their names, learned their personalities and were quick to address the students’ needs. The key to achieving improved scores is working in small, flexible groups. The math and science students helped provide small group instruction. The CSU teachers had a chance to teach all the students as they rotated to each group. They gave intense small group instruction.”

Fewer student instructors were involved with Columbus State’s presence at Mulberry Creek in Harris County, but their impact was no less significant.

“I attribute a lot of things to (improved test scores),” said Justin Finney, Mulberry Creek principal. “We did get good test scores. And the interns from Columbus State College of Education were very important in what we do. It gave (teachers) more flexibility in teaching and tutoring at-risk students.

“It helped us with flexible grouping, where you take grade level of kids to provide interventions. It takes a lot of people to do that.”

Columbus State was up to making such a commitment. Hatcher said CSU is moving to a point in the Early Childhood Program where all eligible Early Childhood teaching candidates are going through a yearlong internship. He anticipates CSU placing some yearlong interns — probably another 20−25 in the fall at Mulberry, and another 20-25 in the spring at Fox.Additionally, CSU student teachers will not only teach at Fox but also be taught there as the school is providing classroom space for their practicum on site in math and science labs.

“It just makes sense,” Thornton said. “Their professors will be coming here to observe them in the classroom, and the material they are being taught is readily available. We are teaching it here with the school students.”

“The classes being taught on site will be exciting to see,” said Jean Partridge, CSU director of Student Advising and Field Experience. “Say a professor is discussing a certain strategy to use. He can pick up that class (and) say, ‘Let’s go look at what Ms. so-and-so is doing right now. She’s using it. Let’s go see it in practice.'”

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CSU To Make History With First Doctoral Degree

When the doctoral hood slides onto Justin Finney’s neck during Columbus State University’s Dec. 16 commencement, the moment marks the end of a long journey for the Harris County educator — and a monumental beginning for CSU.

After six and a half years of rigorous study while working full-time, the Mulberry Creek Elementary principal will become the first person to earn a standalone CSU Doctorate of Education. As university milestones go, this one is immense.

“It’s transformational,” said Tom Hackett, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The community, when the (Columbus) Civic Center is full of people, will see this institution in an entirely different light. It’s one thing to say you have a program. It’s another one, to put that doctoral hood over that student.”

When Finney decided to pursue a doctorate, making history was not on his mind. He began the journey at Georgia State University, finishing much of his coursework there. Then CSU’s Ed.D. program was approved in 2009 and Finney seized the opportunity to transfer the following January, when classes began, to Columbus State, where he had already earned a B.S.Ed. (2001) and an M.Ed. (2003), both in secondary social studies education, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership (2004).

“I was excited that CSU now had a doctoral program,” said Finney, who arrived in Columbus after a 1980s stint with special operations in the Army.

It helped that Hackett, former chair of educational leadership at CSU, had been a mentor to Finney, and he had also enjoyed classes with other education faculty who were to play a key role in CSU’s first doctorate since a shared program that gave participants an Ed.D. bearing the name of Valdosta State University.

“They’re like family to me,” Finney said of his earlier CSU professors. “Though I was happy at GSU, I just wanted to be part of this event at CSU. They are people that I trust — that I just really care about. I liked working with them.”

They helped shape his doctoral thesis on distributive leadership — the concept that a school administrator who empowers staff is far more effective than one who makes all the decisions.

“I don’t think (being autocratic) is my makeup at all,” Finney said. “Using distributive leadership is really more practical than top-down type leadership. You get a better result.”

Back when he was a full-time professor and department chair, Hackett helped fashion CSU’s Doctor of Education degree so that it emphasized research.

“I felt like if we were going to say that we were taking our school leaders to the next level, that they needed to be able to go in and ascertain problems, develop hypotheses and do research and be experts at dealing with data and also be real strategic thinkers,” said Hackett, who rose from teacher to superintendent in Phenix City before joining CSU in 2004. “We decided as a college to make it have a curriculum track, meaning that you could get an Ed.D. with an emphasis in curriculum in different study areas like early childhood, or you could get it with a leadership track, with the idea you are going to be in senior leadership as a principal, as a central office person, or even as a superintendent.”

While working on his thesis, Finney often found new ways to put distributive leadership into practice.

“I’d like to take credit for it,” said Finney, an educator in both Muscogee and Harris counties and instructor at CSU over the past 14 years. “But really, that’s just the way I was taught to do it. Dr. Hackett has been instrumental in mentoring me in that type of mindset.”

It helped that his Harris County supervisors were also proponents of the concept. Superintendent Craig Dowling even joined Hackett, other faculty advisers, friends and another interested observer, CSU President Tim Mescon, when Finney defended his thesis Nov. 28.

“There were some very interesting things that he implied in just his initial survey of literature,” Hackett said. “But additionally, he took the idea of distributive leadership, and he found a correlation between that practice and good student performance.”

He doesn’t officially become Dr. Finney until that Friday night graduation ceremony, and that’s OK by him. The journey is complete, and he’s already a footnote in CSU history.

“I appreciate that,” Finney said. “But I kind of struggle with that, too — notoriety and attention. It’s been an honor to receive this. But I have to give credit to everybody that was on my committee. I just want to represent the university well.”

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Columbus State Selected to Help Georgia Launch Teacher Prep Initiative

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State’s success in being designated for a federal grant worth up to $1.4 million will make it possible for the university to recruit math and science majors into a new teaching-degree program.

Gov. Nathan Deal recently designated Columbus State as one of three Georgia institutions selected to get the federal funds to “address a critical shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers in Georgia,” Deal said in a news release.

The funding originates in a U.S. Department of Education “Race to the Top” initiative from which Georgia has received $400 million. Columbus State will use its grant, up to $1.4 million over four years, to establish UTeach Columbus, modeled after a highly successful program started at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997.

West Georgia University and Southern Polytechnic State University are the only other universities in the state participating in the grant.

Columbus State plans to start  in spring 2012 to recruit at least 25 students per semester into UTeach Columbus introductory courses taught by a master teacher who is an experienced high school math or science teacher.

Any CSU-enrolled student will be eligible, with priority given to math and science majors. Stipends will cover tuition and books for each one-hour introductory course.  

Students who enroll in UTeach will quickly engage in practice teaching in grade 6-12 classrooms in area schools, supervised by the master teacher. “Ideally, we’ll have one master teacher with a specialization in science and another in math,” said Debbie Gober, chair of CSU’s  Department of Teacher Education and co-director of the program. 

Gober and her colleagues will devise and propose a compact degree plan to “streamline the curriculum so UTeach students can complete the program at CSU within four years.” Currently, students working toward teaching degrees with math or science certification often take more than four years to complete a program due to the heavy demands of content coursework and extensive field experience requirements.  

“We are proud to be partnered with two other institutions that are both deeply committed to teacher education,” CSU President Tim Mescon told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “I think one of the reasons we got this is we have a track record for teacher preparation work.” 

Gober said another reviewer-cited factor for CSU’s selection was “strong support from our administration,” plus “a high level of commitment, enthusiasm and collaboration among CSU core faculty from the colleges of Letters and Sciences and Education and Health Professions.” 

Gober is co-directing UTeach at Columbus State, along with physics professor Kimberly Shaw, former director of the Math Science Learning Center, also believed to be a factor in CSU’s selection for the grant.  The center, established in 2006, is dedicated to enhancing the learning of math and science through curriculum development and best-practices training for college faculty, as well as in-service and pre-service K-12 teachers.


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Columbus State Alum a Finalist for 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Christine Powell, a teacher at Northside High School in Columbus and a graduate of Columbus State University, has been named one of 10 finalists for 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Powell, who earned a master’s in education from CSU in 2005, teaches journalism, art history and literature at Northside High School.

The 10 finalists were chosen from a pool of 154 applicants who were selected as Teacher of the Year in their school districts. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past Georgia Teacher of the Year winners and finalists, administrators, community leaders and others. The finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.

Over the next several weeks, a panel of judges will observe and interview each of the finalists. The finalists will also give a speech at a luncheon sponsored by Georgia Power on April 1. The winner will be announced at the Georgia Teacher of the Year banquet on May 6, 2011, at the Georgia World Congress Center. The banquet, paid for through donations from sponsors, will honor each local district Teacher of the Year. A reception hosted by United Healthcare will be held prior to the banquet.

The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation is rallying to support Powell in a variety of ways, in keeping with their mission of supporting, recognizing and rewarding exceptional teachers in our area.


+ Related: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer coverage >>

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Columbus State to Adopt ‘Cultural History’ Curriculum

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University’s College of Education and Health Professions will prepare educators to deliver cultural history lessons, thanks to a grant from the Caroline Lawson Ivey Memorial Foundation.

The Cultural Approach to History Education is a project that “will impact local schools with a framework for a cutting-edge approach to teaching history at the kindergarten through high school levels,” said foundation board member Andrew Weaver, who retired from Auburn University after serving as a social science education professor, Department of Curriculum and Teaching head and acting associate dean of education.

Cultural history education is based on exploring societies through records of their knowledge, customs and arts. The approach emerged in the early 1900s and complements the traditional history education method based on studying major political figures, important events and significant trends.

Weaver said the concept of cultural history is central to the legacy of the late Oliver T. Ivey, husband of the foundation’s namesake.

“(Ivey) put the finishing touches on it,” Weaver said.

The ideas of cultural history education pioneer Caroline Ware, who edited the influential 1940 book The Cultural Approach to History, and writings of historian F.W. Walbank significantly influenced Oliver Ivey, a history professor who taught at Auburn University for several decades through the 1960s.

“(Ivey) adapted the concept for graduate-school courses and for several public school systems in Alabama,” said Weaver, a colleague of Ivey for several years. “Its implementation in the Montgomery school system’s seventh-grade history curriculum drew a ‘Profile of Promise’ designation from the U.S. Office of Information.”

The curriculum provides the student with “a holistic understanding of time and place through six different lenses,” said Weaver, who is serving as a consultant to project director Richard Gardiner, a CSU assistant professor of teacher education.

The “lenses” refer to six divisions of social activity:
• Economic: The Market … To provide physical sustenance for the individual and group
• Social: The Home … To support and provide continuity of the family
• Political: The State … To provide security for the individual and group
• Intellectual: The School … To discover and disseminate truth
• Religious: The Church … To understand what civilizations worshiped and how they developed ethical beliefs
• Aesthetic: Fine Arts Institutions … To create and appreciate beauty

The two-year grant will fund a Caroline Lawson and Oliver T. Ivey Memorial Scholarship Endowment for history education majors, two graduate assistantships to support Gardiner, summer workshops for teachers, and reproduction and updating of “The Cultural Approach to History Education” curriculum.

Ivey Foundation chair and longtime Columbus State supporter Steve Brice said the university strongly suits the initiative.

“I have been associated with CSU for many years and have the highest respect for the institution, said Brice, whose wife, Laura, is a niece of Caroline and Turner Ivey. (The Brices reside on a family farm in Smiths Station, Ala., that belonged to the Iveys). “The College of Education and Health Professions offers a unique opportunity that we could not find elsewhere: to partner in updating and enhancing the ‘cultural approach.’”

Gardiner and his staff, with CSU-specialist assistance, will digitally republish the curriculum literature provided by the foundation and coordinate CSU student and faculty development in the cultural history discipline through study abroad and other activities.

Columbus State’s adaptation also will incorporate the Chattahoochee Valley’s history, which will “give Columbus-area kids a better understanding of their home community,” said Gardiner.

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CSU Offers Online Program for Future Math, Science Teachers

COLUMBUS, Ga.- Effective January 2009, Columbus State University will provide prospective math and science teachers with an alternative online track to certification in Georgia.

Recently approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, CSU will offer the online master of arts in teaching degree in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics or earth-space science.

“If you ever thought about becoming a math or science teacher, here is your chance,” said CSU College of Education Dean David Rock. “CSU is excited and committed to helping the state and region with the critical shortage of quality math and science teachers.”

CSU will offer the 39-semester hour program along with Kennesaw State, the University of West Georgia, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State. Professors from these institutions will teach the courses while each school reconfigures existing courses and uses other existing resources so no new funds are required. Meanwhile, Georgians can save gas and time that would have been spent commuting to a campus.

“This is groundbreaking education,’ said Rock. “There are no turf wars here … The shortage of teachers is a statewide issue. Therefore, five institutions have come together to make a difference by providing a quality program that is flexible for today’s career-changer.”

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission estimates the state will need 4,500 new science and math teachers, including more than 1,700 equipped to teach at the high school level by 2010 due to increased student enrollment combined with teacher attrition.

“This program will increase the number of teachers who have full certification in the subject areas they are teaching, and it will also increase the number of science and math teachers in Georgia overall,” said Jan Kettlewell, the USG’s vice chancellor for P-16 initiatives.

Rock said the new program represents “a true collaborative project based on CSU’s recent successful online Master of Education in Accomplished Teaching program.”

A common application for the new degree program soon will be accessible at the Georgia ONmyLINE Website (http://www.georgiaonmyline.org), which offers access to online and distance education offerings systemwide.

For more information, call 706-568-2212.

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CSU Teacher Candidates Teach Children Lessons About River

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Scaled down and life-size models depicting symbols of Chattahoochee River history and its role as a life-sustaining resource soon will appear soon in River Road Elementary School classrooms.

Kids, ages 4-11, will create this makeshift exhibition as part of “Summer Spectacular,” a new summer enrichment program directed by CSU early childhood education students and professors.

This four-week series at River Road, themed “River Works: Exploring Columbus and the Chattahoochee,” begins June 25. Activities will focus on the river, its history and its benefits to Columbus. Subtopics will include the Chattahoochee as a transportation way, the plants and animals it supports, related environmental issues, and the benefits ranging from recreation to the generation of electricity.

Parents can sign up their children for $20 per child/per week for any or all sessions, which run 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday.

The program is designed by CSU Associate Professor Jan Burcham, the Moselle Worsley Fletcher Faculty Chair in Teacher Education. She said participants will research and write about theme subtopics and bring them to life by creating displays — such as a scaled down riverboat or an 8-foot-long alligator. “They’ll be converting the classrooms into a museum that depicts what they’re learning,” she said.

Moreover, the children will help guide the program, said CSU Assistant Professor Joseph Mills. “They will be able to determine where to take each project creatively,” he said. “It will be a high-quality educational experience, but fun and exciting at the same time.”

Mills will be joined onsite by CSU faculty colleagues Betsy Glisson and Susan Barlow, River Road Elementary Principal Molly Hart and 25 CSU teacher candidates from a pair of concurrent early childhood education classes.

When not serving as facilitators, the CSU students will observe activities, thus satisfying the courses’ required field training that’s otherwise accessible only in the fall or spring when area schools are in regular session.

“Being able to offer these classes in the summer gives our early childhood education program more continuity,” Mills said.

The Summer Spectacular program, added Burcham,“provides a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

For more information or to register for the program, call 706-565-7810.

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CSU Professor Earns Lifetime Service Award

James Brewbaker, CSU professor of English education, has been honored with a lifetime service award from the Georgia Council of Teachers of English.

The council presented its Louise Newland Capen Award for Lifetime Service to Brewbaker on Feb. 17, making Brewbaker just the fifth recipient of the award. Brewbaker, twice president of the council, said he was pleasantly surprised to receive the award.

JamesI started working with English teachers soon after coming to Georgia in the 1970s, he said. Our organization was struggling at the time. Since then many people have contributed to its growth and present strength. I played a part along with many others.

The GCTE award cites Brewbaker, left, for his many years of dedication to the field as a teacher and professor of English education.

The award further cites his prolific scholarly publications, literary reviews, poetry, and prose; his service as poetry editor of English Journal; his service to GCTE as president for two terms; his leadership in GCTE workshops and presentations; and his dedication in serving GCTE as a leader and supporter.

Brewbaker said he relishes his role in conference planning for GCTE, citing a 1995 conference that attracted more than 1,100 teachers to Callaway Gardens. The key to a good professional meeting is top-notch speakers, he said. When you make it possible for people to hear speakers like John Berendt and Nikki Giovanni, you get their attention. (Berendt is author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, set in Savannah, and Giovanni is a well-known African-American poet.)

A frequent presenter at state and national meetings of English teachers, Brewbaker said he enjoys involving CSU students in his presentations. This February, five of my students served as co-presenters at the GCTE meeting. This gives them a taste of what its like to contribute professionally. The students, are Meghan Allen, Russell Hardy, Doneis La-Mar, Edgar Marcano, and Sandy Shorey, each of whom is a secondary English education major in CSUs College of Education. Brewbaker has previously collaborated with graduate students in presentations at national or regional meetings in San Francisco, Milwaukee, Washington, Asheville, N.C., and Charleston, S.C.

Brewbaker, a senior member of CSUs teaching faculty, said he has seen many changes in his years at CSU, where he has been employed since 1971. Regarding retirement, he said, Retire? What for? Im having too much fun to stop now.

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New Teachers Sought Among Area Professionals

COLUMBUS — Degree-holding professionals considering a career change to teaching should attend a recruiting forum for Columbus State Universitys Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25. The College of Education will host the event in the Lumpkin Center Presidents Club.

CSU has prepared nearly 70 teachers through the program since its 2001 inception. Half of these educators serve in the Muscogee County School District.

A Georgia Professional Standards Commissions initiative to address a critical shortage of teachers, the program targets degree-holding individuals with basic qualifications to teach subjects such as mathematics, science, English, special education and foreign language in middle grades through high school.

Selected applicants will begin summer-long, pre-classroom training in May at CSU focusing on curriculum planning and strategies and related teaching concepts. In fall 2005 they will enter classrooms as teaching interns, mentored and evaluated by senior teaching colleagues and faculty from CSUs teacher education department. Successful candidates earn certification with two years of internship and additional coursework.

Past TAPP candidates at CSU have transitioned to the classroom from positions ranging from fast food restaurant manager and television news producer to publisher and social worker. For example Rosa Shelton the lead seventh grade teacher at Marshall Middle School, entered TAPP at CSU in 2001after social work experience with disadvantaged children in Washington D.C. and Africa. She subsequently was recognized by then-Gov. Roy Barnes as an outstanding TAPP intern and went on to earn Muscogee County Middle School Technology Teacher of the Year honors.

Another CSU TAPP graduate (2003), Shaw High School history teacher Ammie Whitley, said the program produces a unique variation of teacher. (We) have real-life experience from previous careers and a wealth of stories, as well as resources, that traditionally trained teachers may not have, said Whitley who previously worked for the Georgia Department of Labor.

Charlie Cumiskey, who coordinates the program for CSU, said early questions about how non-traditionally prepared individuals could become effective teachers have been dispelled by these educators maturity, real life experiences and determination to succeed.

CSUs TAPP has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive and successful in Georgia. The major portion of that success is attributed to the on-site alternate weekly visits to each interns classroom by trained observers, and by required attendance at campus seminars the following weeks, Cumiskey said.

CSU will accept applications for the program through March 18. For more information, contact Cumiskey at (706) 565-7803.



Contact: Charlie Cumiskey, (706) 565-7803, E-mail: cumiskey_charles@ColumbusState.edu

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Considering a Career Change to Teaching?

Columbus State Universitys College of Education will host an open forum for degree-holding professionals considering a career change to teaching.

The event will be held in the Davidson Student Center auditorium at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29. For the fourth year, CSUs will present its Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP).

The Georgia TAPP was created by the Professional Standards Commission to find qualified individuals to meet the critical need for teachers in the fields of math, science, special education, foreign language and English. It is estimated that 14,000 new teachers will be needed by 2006.

Teacher candidates are mentored and monitored as interns in K-12 classrooms. Upon successful completion of the two-year program, Interns are eligible for full certification. CSUs Department of Teacher Education reports that more than 60 professionals have gone through the program the past three years and are currently teaching in 10 area school systems.

For more information, call Charles Cumiskey, program coordinator at 565-7803 or e-mail Cumiskey_Charles@ColumbusState.edu

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New CSU Program Offers Scholarship and Stipend to Teach in Talbot County

New CSU Program Offers Scholarship and Stipend to Teach in Talbot County

By offering a generous scholarship and post-graduation employment stipend, a newly developed endowment is luring Columbus State University College of Education students to the Talbot County school system.

Provided by the estate of Richard M. Alsobrook in loving memory of his wife and veteran Talbot County educator, Ophelia Fleming Alsobrook, the endowment will provide tuition and books for eligible CSU students in the Teacher Education Program who are planning to teach in the Talbot County School System.

The Ophelia Fleming Alsobrook Scholars also will receive up to $2,000 stipend in each of the first two years after graduation while teaching or working in a Talbot County school.

The scholarship is a fitting tribute to Alsobrook who was a favorite among her students, despite her high expectations and insistence on discipline.

She had the ability to motivate while still kindling admiration and respect among her students, said Roy Goolsby, a former 8th grade student of Mrs. Alsobrook.

Goolsby continued to learn from his former educator after returning to Woodland Elementary School years later as a teacher and principal. Mrs. Alsobrook was employed at the time as curriculum director and he frequently sought her advice.

He believes a scholarship in Mrs. Alsobrook’s name is ‘a most fitting way to continue her dedication to the education of students and the development of teachers in Talbot County.’

‘She was the kind of anchor that provided a place of rest — a relaxed, sharing, caring atmosphere for all the kids that she never had of her own,’ Goolsby said. ‘We will never know just how many others she helped on this journey through life. But we know that she lived her life for others, not herself.’

During Mrs. Alsobrook’s 41-year career in education, she taught French, biology and social studies at Woodland Elementary School and served many years as Talbot County curriculum supervisor. She attended the University of Georgia where she earned her undergraduate degree, her masters of education degree and an additional degree in supervision and curriculum development.

Scholarship eligibility requires students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 and full- time status of 12 hours, and priority will be given to those who are current or past residents of Talbot County. For more information, or to apply for the scholarship, contact the Columbus State University Office of Financial Aid at 706-568-2036.

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Mentorship Program Created To Keep New Teachers In The Classroom

Thirty percent don’t make it through the third year. Nearly 50 percent leave after five years.

Teaching is a challenging business, but keeping teachers in the classroom may be a bigger challenge. In record numbers, teachers across the United States are leaving the stress of the classroom behind.

In an effort to keep qualified teachers in the classroom, Columbus State University’s College of Education has developed a unique mentoring program that will provide support for new teachers who have graduated from CSU and who have been hired within the university’s Partner School Network. The program has been named STEADY, Sustained Teacher Education Advisement for the Defining Years.

‘Our goal is to extend the reach of our highly successful teacher education program,’ said Roger Hatcher, coordinator for CSU’s Partner School Network. ‘The stress, pressure and loneliness some teachers face can be overwhelming. This is particularly true for first year teachers. We believe our mentoring program will be an invaluable resource for these new teachers.’

The STEADY project is the result of a five-year grant by the Knight Foundation and is aimed at CSU graduates who are in their first year of teaching. This five-year project is expected to reach approximately 200 teachers and will serve as a model, transferrable to other colleges in the state and in the region. CSU’s Partner School Network includes the Chattahoochee County School System, Fort Benning Dependent Schools, the Harris County School System, the Muscogee County School District, Pacelli High School, Phenix City (Al.) Public Schools and St. Anne School.

According to Hatcher, CSU’s program will provide essential,front-line professional support for CSU graduates in their first and second year of teaching. There will be a toll-free hotline providing confidential, immediate advice; access to an on-campus consultant who will visit these teachers twice a year; Best Practices master teachers; and a chat room where new teachers can discuss the problems and pressures of teaching with their peers.

‘These teachers need a variety of support venues,’ Hatcher said ‘It’s difficult for many of these first-year teachers to find someone they can go to when problems arise.’

Molly Hart, assistant principle at Clubview Elementary in Columbus, echoed Hatcher.

‘The transition from college to the teaching world can be very difficult for first-year teachers,’ said Hart. ‘They need to be able to discuss the difficulties they face with someone outside of the administration they work under. Having access to a mentor can help these first-year teachers turn their classroom time into a positive experience.’

‘We want to see our graduates succeed but for a mentor relationship to work, teachers must be able to speak freely to someone not in a position of authority,’ Hatcher said.

The National Education Association also supports this experience and believes there is a connection between support in the first year and teachers leaving the profession. Their studies show that a helpful mentor significantly reduces the chances of quitting in the first year, and as new teachers utilize mentoring programs, first-year attrition drops.

‘It is our goal to keep our graduates teaching. Being able to access a mentor during those first couple of years will have a very positive influence on these teachers,’ Hatcher said.

Hatcher said mentoring programs such as the one CSU offers requires extensive investments of time, training and support, but is dependent upon teacher participation.

As new teachers participate in a mentoring program, sources indicate there is a much better chance these teachers will remain in their profession.

‘Although the exodus of teachers leaving their professions is nothing short of catastrophic, a well planned mentoring program, such as CSU’s, helps keep them teaching,’ Hatcher said. ‘If we can create a positive experience in those first two years, we believe teachers will continue to teach and make long-term commitments to their profession.’


Contact: Roger Hatcher, 568-2212; E-mail: hatcher_roger@ColumbusState.edu


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CSU Garners $1.5 Million Grant To Improve Reading With Technology

Columbus, GA – Columbus State University’s College of Education has been awarded a $1.5 million federal grant to teach technologically based techniques aimed at improving reading skills in West Central Georgia.

The grant came just in time as the college already has begun professional development programs with regional school district partners. For example, every Pre-K through fifth-grade teacher in the Chattahoochee County school system and every Pre-K through second-grade teacher in the Putnam County system are currently enrolled at CSU to add a reading specialization to their education.

The two counties are among CSU’s partners in the project, which includes the Chattahoochee-Flint Regional Educational Service Agency, two software development companies and 12 of West Central Georgia’s school systems. Awarded through the college’s Educational Technology Training Center, the U.S. Department of Education’s Teachers Technology Program Grant will target reading deficiency, which is the most urgent need in many surrounding counties, said center director Elizabeth Holmes.

The percentage of adults in sections of West Central Georgia that do not graduate from high school is about twice the national average. ‘Too often, the cause of this academic failure begins with reading difficulties.’ Holmes said.

To combat the problem, CSU experts are taking a three-pronged approach:

* Revise the curriculum for teachers-to-be in the undergraduate program to reflect new national reading standards and take better advantage of research-based instruction and available reading diagnostic technology.
* Train graduate students to be online mentors with teachers throughout the community, to help working teachers take advantage of online programming and software designed to identify problems and develop individualized solutions.
* Reach out to teachers in qualified local schools to teach them how to use the latest technology to test childrens reading levels and use that data to develop customized reading programs for each child or group of children.

‘Approaching the reading challenge from three angles encourages systemic change. The beneficiaries of improved reading instruction will be the children in West Central Georgia who will have greater success in school when they become competent readers.’ Holmes said.

She said Web-enhanced learning tools can make a difference, if the technology is available in the classrooms and the teachers know how to use it. For instance, new diagnostic software is available to help teachers assess students reading skills, analyze and interpret results, and tailor a course of study to reinforce specific areas of weakness.

The $1.5 million to implement such programs is the most recent in a string of grants awarded to CSU’s College of Education to further the use of technology in the classroom. Holmes said there has been a logical progression in the work of CSU’s Educational Technology Training Center. First, the focus was on educating the teachers, which was aided in 1999 with federal grants totaling more than $1.7 million. Now, the focus takes the technology where it is needed most – into the classrooms to help children learn.

‘This grant is another stellar example of CSU’s partnership with its surrounding communities,’ said Katheryn Fouche, PhD, executive director of the university’s Centers of Excellence. ‘The Educational Technology Training Center has worked collaboratively with the College of Education to provide a state model in technology preparation for teachers. We appreciate their hard work and commitment.’


Contact: Elizabeth D. Holmes, director of CSU’s Educational Technology Training Center, 706-565-3645 or holmes_elizabeth@ColumbusState.edu

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