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Georgia Southern on Track to Double Number of Teaching Graduates by 2010

eagle headAs local school systems face teacher shortages and rising numbers of children in the classroom, they have found one source for well-qualified graduates — Georgia Southern University.

Georgia Southern University last year graduated 326 new teachers, among the top in the state of Georgia. Georgia Southern was part of a University System of Georgia initiative to educate and prepare additional teachers. Last year, 4,240 students graduated from University System of Georgia institutions. Since 2004, Georgia Southern University has demonstrated a significant increase in the number of teachers (326 graduates in 2008 versus 217 graduates in 2004).

‘If you’re a parent, a teacher, a principal or a local school board member, you definitely see the need for more well prepared and qualified teachers,” said Cindi Chance, Ed.D., dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern University. ‘We’re proud that not only are the best students choosing Georgia Southern University for their education, but that they are succeeding and making meaningful contributions in the lives of young people throughout the country.”

Whether it is in local school systems or national education associations, Georgia Southern’s impact is being felt. For instance, Metlife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals named Georgia Southern alumnus Molly Howard, Ed.D., National Principal of the Year. For the last three years, the Georgia Teacher of the Year has been a graduate of Georgia Southern’s College of Education.

To reach more students, Georgia Southern University has expanded the number of online teaching programs including certificate, master’s, doctorate and Education Specialist programs. Available online, many of the degree programs are targeted at another import important group, current teachers who want to expand their skills and move up in the school system.

‘At a time when Universities need to increase the number of students they prepare to become teachers, we have not only continued to grow, but have done so in a way that not only helps with traditional college students, but also with current teachers pursuing their graduate degrees,” says Chance.

Georgia Southern University education students not only receive an outstanding classroom education, but get practical experience critical to being successful on day one in a classroom. Students participate in extensive field experiences in teacher preparation with a minimum of 1,000 hours in public school classrooms. Undergraduate students are advised by full-time advisement staff in the Student Success Center while graduate students are advised by faculty in their specific program areas.

Advanced degree programs are designed for the needs of teachers, school leaders, and school support personnel with off-campus, online and distance learning courses offered in many of the graduate programs. Combined with low student-faculty and student-supervisor ratios, Georgia Southern University students maintain consistently high pass rates on required state certification tests.

In addition to increasing the number of qualified teachers, Georgia Southern University has also taken a leadership role in working directly with local school systems in the First District and Heart of Georgia Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) areas.

‘Georgia Southern University along with Armstrong Atlantic State University and Coastal College of Georgia are working directly with local school systems to identify critical need areas specific to their operation,” says Dr. Chance. ‘The goal is to take a much more targeted approach to meeting their needs as we educate future generations of teachers.”

Stephanie Kenney, Ed.D. associate dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern is leading the three institution task force and has already met with superintendents and have begun to gather data on their specific needs. ‘This approach enables the universities to work directly with local systems so that we cannot only identify their needs, but structure and put together programs that will get them the teachers they need as southeast Georgia schools continue to grow,” says Kenney.

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers more than 120 degree programs serving more than 17,000 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The University, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit: www.georgiasouthern.edu.

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