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Marvin Pittman Lab School reunion brings teachers and students together

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Mrs. Cleo Mallard, who began teaching at MPLS in the 1950’s, visits with former students and fellow MPLS teachers.

Nearly 300 people, including former students, teachers and staff members from the Marvin Pittman Laboratory School (MPLS) came together for a reunion on Sunday, March 6, at the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center. Attendees included Mrs. Cleo Mallard, Dr. Betty Lane and Dr. Rosiland Ragans, who joined the event through Skype, all three of whom taught at MPLS beginning in the 1950’s. Guests traveled from across the state, with a large number making the trip from Atlanta, as well as from Florida and Alabama.

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Dr. Rosiland Ragans, an art teacher at MPLS for more than 30 years, joined the reunion through a Skype station.

“My grandson recently asked me to write a letter explaining what a typical day was like when I was in 4th grade,” said Carol Deloach, who was unable to attend the event in person. “I had so much fun writing and remembering, he said mine was the longest letter of all the grandparents! There was no short way of telling what a day at Marvin Pittman would bring. Fond memories,” she recalled.    

Committee members Amy Hammett, Thomas Koballa, Ph.D., Julie Lanier, Patricia Parsons, John Ramfjord, Johnny Tremble and Darin Van Tassell, Ph.D., led the reunion planning.

“The MPLS was a special place,” said Thomas Koballa, Ph.D., dean of the University’s College of Education. “It was a place where teachers and students at all levels, K-8 and college, came together to learn from and with each other. We hope that through this reunion we can continue the legacy of cooperation, innovation and community that characterizes Marvin Pittman’s legacy through the College of Education.”

On May 15,1955, Georgia Teachers’ College and the Bulloch County Board of Education formally named the Marvin Pittman Laboratory School. The school was designed with Marvin Pittman’s vision of quality education and inspiring future educators. MPLS closed in 1996, but Georgia Southern University kept Pittman’s name alive by naming the Marvin Pittman Administration Building.

As a way to ensure the legacy of Marvin Pittman never dies out, the College of Education (COE) is creating an affinity group, The Marvin Pittman Lab School Legacy. This initiative will act as a vehicle to raise funds and support for the continuation of the MPLS’s legacy and to fund programs such as the Faculty in Residence (FIR) program and year-long student teaching.

The FIR program’s goal is to create school-based learning communities that are both responsive to local needs and supportive of COE programs and field experiences by creating opportunities for COE faculty and K-12 teachers, administrators, counselors and media specialists to work side-by-side to enhance student learning, engagement and socio-emotional well-being. The program will provide for an on-site COE professor at a community school to participate in the life of the school and provide the same types of support for which the MPLS strived in serving students. FIR will create school-based learning communities that will encourage faculty, teachers and administrators to work together to promote innovative learning experiences, best practices as supported by research and to address the needs of the local school and community.

“The COE recognizes that MPLS still resonates with the Statesboro and Bulloch County community and that alums still have a unique and special bond among them,” said Koballa. “This reunion is hopefully the first of many to come.”

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