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Georgia Southern College of Education, Chatham County public school system partnership earns state honor

A strategic partnership between Georgia Southern University’s College of Education and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) has earned a top state accolade.

The Georgia Association of School Personnel Administrators (GASPA) annually recognizes successes in state school districts with the Best in Class recognition program. SCCPSS received the 2020 Platinum Award of Excellence in the area of strategic partnerships, documenting its collaboration with the University on the paid residency program and the urban education training initiative. 

The Urban Education Endorsement program allows SCCPSS teachers to earn Professional Learning Units (PLUs) instead of graduate course credit. 

“Since SCCPSS hires many teachers each year who may not have experience living, working or teaching in urban contexts, this partnership provides an opportunity to develop education strategies and understandings relevant to urban schools,” said Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., assistant dean for partnerships and outreach in Georgia Southern’s COE.

Consisting of three online courses, the Urban Education Endorsement provides exposure to foundational and emergent scholarship in culturally relevant and culturally sustaining pedagogies; field experiences engaging with youth and families within urban community contexts; and experiences in designing curriculum for culturally and linguistically diverse learners in urban settings.

The paid residency program began in fall 2020 and provides the opportunity for highly qualified teacher candidates in the final year of their teacher preparation program to be hired by SCCPSS as full-time teachers or teacher residents. The goals of the program are to develop a pipeline of exceptional teachers for the district and enhance teacher retention. The teacher residents earn a salary of $19,000 and receive benefits and retirement credit while also fulfilling their course requirements at Georgia Southern. 

Two teacher residents are working at Pulaski Elementary School and two are working at Hubert Middle School during this pilot year of the program. They each fill a vacant teaching position. A classroom teacher who has demonstrated exemplary performance in teaching and mentoring other teachers has moved out of the classroom at each school and serves as a full-time mentor teacher to the two teacher residents.

“We are proud to be recognized by GASPA for the innovative strategies we have implemented and the partnerships we have strengthened to have the best teachers for our students in SCCPSS,” said Heather Bilton, Ed.D., director of employment for SCCPSS.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving almost 27,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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