PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2022
IN TRYING TIMES
ALSO: Grants & Scholarships | Legislative Priorities
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The COLLEGE OF EDUCATION at Georgia Southern University offers a wide-range of highquality, innovative master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degree programs as well as endorsements and certificates. Designed to accommodate busy, working professionals, many programs are available online. The college’s offerings are ranked in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Graduate Education Programs.”
SAVE THE DATE PAGE Day on the Hill & Legislative Webinars Georgia educators need information about and access to the General Assembly. The PAGE legislative team connects you.
Make plans today to join us: State Education Budget Overview Webinar When: During the second or third week of the 2022 legislative session, after publication of the initial version of the state education budget What: Discussion of funding for Georgia’s Quality Basic Education system (QBE), including teacher salaries; Review of Teachers Retirement System (TRS) funding and other important education budget items PAGE Day on the Hill When: Tuesday, Feb. 22 What: Information sessions on pressing education issues beneath the Gold Dome; Guest speakers include state policymakers; PAGE member advocacy opportunities Proposed Private School Voucher Expansion Webinar When: To be announced during the 2022 legislative session What: An exploration of proposed private school voucher expansion in Georgia; PAGE member virtual advocacy opportunities
Watch the email address associated with your PAGE membership for registration details. To ensure you’re signed up to receive PAGE legislative reports and event invitations, visit www.pageinc.org, click on the legislative tab, and subscribe to the PAGE Capitol Report. Or visit us directly at www.pagelegislative.org where you can also access archived reports and resources including the 2022 Georgia General Assembly Preview webinar held earlier this month. 2 | PAGE One
January / February 2022
4 IN THIS ISSUE 6 FROM THE PRESIDENT
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2022
EDITORIAL STAFF Craig Harper Ramona Mills
GUEST WRITERS THIS ISSUE Dr. Oatanisha Dawson Educational Equity Initiative Report
Sustaining Hope in Trying Times
Note from a School Psychologist
PAGE One Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators
Vol. 43 No. 1
8 FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 10 2022 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
HOPE 12 SUSTAINING IN TRYING TIMES Georgia Educators Share Insights & Inspiration
PAGE supports and protects Georgia educators throughout all stages of their careers by providing unparalleled legal coverage, legislative advocacy, and professional learning. PAGE recognizes and encourages Georgia teachers and students through annual scholarships, educator grants, STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition), and student programming such as FGE (Future Georgia Educators), GAD (Georgia Academic Decathlon), and the Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.
32 GRANTS & SCHOLARSHIPS
PAGE will award more than $125,000 this year
34 EDUCATIONAL EQUITY INITIATIVE REPORT
A Virtual Book Study
36 PAGE LEGAL
Summative Assessments: Your New Appeal Rights
27 A NOTE FROM A SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST
January / February 2022
38 LEAD. LEARN. CHANGE.
It’s what educators do every day. And the title of a new book dedicated to teaching and learning. PAGE One | 3
In This Issue
A new year is a time of renewal — an opportunity to reset and refresh. It is, by nature, a season of hope. And, if ever hope were needed, it is now. In this issue, educators from throughout the state share insights and inspiration for sustaining hope in trying times. Some have lost loved ones to COVID-19 or other illnesses. Some have personally battled severe infection from the virus. Some have survived other disasters. In relating their stories, none deny the hardships the pandemic has brought to us. None attempt to obscure the harsh realities of our shared present. Rather, all speak from their hearts of the hope that carries them through despite extreme difficulties. As one of our featured educators described her view amid the challenge: “We can be overwhelmed by the pandemic and what has happened to us, or we can position ourselves as overcomers.” Turn to pages 12 through 28 to hear from fellow Georgia educators in this month’s feature. January is also the month to submit your PAGE Educator Grant application (closing soon: Jan. 30) and apply for a PAGE Foundation scholarship (open through May 27). Learn more about these financial award opportunities on pages 32 and 33. The 2022 General Assembly begins this month. Read about what your PAGE legislative services staff will be advocating for this session and the process through which these member-developed legislative priorities were determined (page 10). And be sure to save the date for next 4 | PAGE One
month’s PAGE Day on the Hill as well as PAGE legislativefocused webinars (page 2). As it has for more than two decades, PAGE professional learning holds student relationships and interests as the foundation for instructional design and engagement. Therefore, an emphasis on student equity drives this work. Last semester, PAGE hosted Shattering Inequities, a virtual book study led by Social Circle City Schools. Learn more on page 34. An overview of new appeal rights for summative assessment ratings (page 36) and a behind-the-scenes look at a new book for educators by PAGE staff member David Reynolds rounds out this issue (page 38). Clark Atlanta University associate professor and Chair of Curriculum and Instruction Felicia Mayfield observes: “We educators who divest of self — and actually feel good about it — will especially appreciate this book.” We think you’ll agree. Thank you for all you do. May you thrive, excel, and forever move forward with hope.
Ramona Mills Executive Editor January / February 2022
Earn your Graduate Degree in Education from Georgia College Our online graduate programs give you the ability to further your education from wherever you may be. You’ll receive a high-quality, aﬀordable, and accredited program that will allow you to maintain your work and home life while pursuing your degree. We oﬀer online programs in: • Educational Leadership (Ed.S. and M.Ed.)* • Special Education (M.A.T., M.Ed. and Ed.S.) • Teacher Leadership (Ed.S.) • Certiﬁcation Programs • Curriculum and Instruction (M.Ed.) Library Media Certiﬁcation Dyslexia Certiﬁcation • Instructional Technology (M.Ed.) Instructional Technology Certiﬁcation • Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.) Educational Leadership Tier I • Library Media (M.Ed.) Positive Behavior Interventions and • Middle Grades Education (M.A.T. and M.Ed.) Supports (PBIS) Certiﬁcation Computer Science for Teacher Certiﬁcation • Secondary Education (M.A.T.) *For those who hold clear and renewable Leadership/Tier II certiﬁcation at the master’s degree level, we oﬀer the Specialist in Leadership degree only.
Our admission criteria no longer require the GRE, MAT, or Georgia College Graduate Writing Assessment. We are nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GAPSC).
From the President
Be Here Be Present Be Well A Good Day As educators, we are expected to arrive to school each day mindful of and having attended to our own self-care in order to focus on the needs of those we serve. The moment we enter the school building, our needs are, by default, secondary. Consider this: Mr. James, a high school teacher, is preparing to head to school. Today, is his first day back from being out sick. He rushes to help ready his own children for the day – all the while nervously thinking about how his instruction was interrupted by illness, and the critical areas he must review before the district’s assessment. As he arrives onto the school campus, he’s exhausted from a stressful commute. After circling the faculty parking lot twice, he finds a space in student parking. He then enters the school building, rummaging for his room key, and is startled by a phone notification regarding an upcoming bill payment. While approaching the school lobby, one of his favorite 6 | PAGE One
former students walks up to him seemingly in despair. Mr. James immediately thinks, “Oh no, not right now!” Our days may not begin as harried as Mr. James’, but this vignette illustrates the many difficulties that educators encounter every day – even before students enter the classroom. Each of us know that we have emotional triggers and stressors. Yet, knowing that we have them versus knowing how to effectively address them is very distinct. Being mindful of our own levels of stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions will help us become more self-aware. We are better able to manage emotions and our overall mental well-being when our bodies and minds are rested and recalibrated. It can make the difference between a good, productive day and a not-so-good day. Mindfulness in the Moment Having uninterrupted time to organize our thoughts and understand our emotions as educators is necessary to January / February 2022
“Practicing mindfulness supports relationships and encourages us to be more present, bringing clarity to the day.“
be and remain effective. Emotional triggers as well as key motivators can be better understood when time is given to settling troubling thoughts and feelings. And, unlike Mr. James, being more mindful helps educators enter the school building better prepared to assist students. Practicing mindfulness supports relationships and encourages us to be more present, bringing clarity to the day. Mindfulness activities can take place in a large or small group or alone. The first activity that comes to mind is breathing. Try sitting straight with feet flat on the floor then take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and immediately out through your mouth. Taking these 60 seconds to breathe directly and immediately calms your nervous system. Other mindfulness activities can include taking a 5- to 10-minute walk with a colleague during your break or just sitting outside watching the sunset after a long day. Mindfulness is Self-Care At Goodyear Elementary School, we have prioritized teacher mindfulness within our weekly self-care memos. Teachers are encouraged to play soft music, drink their favorite soothing tea, or conduct one of several mindfulness activities to calm them or their students before or after high-impact teaching and learning. While on a short-term school closure, Goodyear’s teachers collectively participated in eight days of mindfulness. One of these days included a “15-minute refresh.” Led by our school’s social worker, teachers were invited to a virtual session where calming ocean music played as they listened to soothing directions on how to connect with their own breathing and calm their heart rate before a day of rigor and unexpected tasks.
Teachers not only welcomed the refresh but inquired about its return. And, now, teacher wellness has taken center stage. For years, educator well-being has been minimized, but it can no longer wait. As we all witness history – living the outcomes of the pandemic, political polarization, and matters related to race – it has amplified the need to pause and address emotional wellness. Practicing mindfulness can take place anywhere and at any moment within our day. You can join a teacher’s class during their time of reflection or mindfulness activities, or set and protect a short time for you alone. What I am often reminded of as an educational leader is that it is expected of me to arrive ready for the day having already attended to my own emotional needs. Remember Mr. James? Just as he turned to interact with the obviously distressed student, the counselor intervened and talked as if she was finishing a conversation that had already begun. It was at that moment that Mr. James realized he still had time before his first period to join the “Teacher Time” session that was about to begin. He was calmed just by knowing he would have a moment to reset and prepare for what he loves doing each day – teaching.
Oatanisha Dawson received her teacher certification from Armstrong Atlantic University in 2004. She holds a Master of Middle Grades Education (2007), a Specialist degree in Leadership (2010), and a Doctor of Education (2013) — all of which were completed at Georgia Southern University. She presently serves as principal of Goodyear Elementary in Brunswick, Georgia. January / February 2022
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From the Executive Director “Education is the ultimate expression of hope as it is the long-term practical application of growing and encouraging developing minds to make the world a better place.” From left: Lynita Jackson (facilitator, GSBA Strategic Direction Staff ); Yasmin Davis, Senior, Pike County; Paige Hackleman, Senior, Oconee County; Kira Young, Senior, Forsyth County; Jake Cashin, Sophmore, Richmond County; Timarco Ross, Senior, Bleckley County; and Dr. Steve Barker (facilitator, GSBA Strategic Direction Staff )
Photo courtesy of Chris Triplett and GSBA
Student Voice: Listening, Connecting, Engaging The critical importance of listening to student voice to improve learning experiences was emphatically demonstrated at a state conference recently. High school students from throughout the state who are members of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) Youth Advisory Council, shared a wide range of thoughts on schooling during a panel discussion at the winter conference. Their honest comments before a large crowd of school board members, superintendents, and education advocates were insightful, 8 | PAGE One
encouraging, and critical. The audience mildly chuckled a few times in response to individual curriculum preferences, but much more frequently offered “Amen” and applause at their profound insights. As I listened to the reaction of those around me during and after the panel discussion, a common observation held that the students seemed wiser than their years. I, too, initially shared that sentiment. These were impressively thoughtful students. Then, I caught myself and recalled past conversations with students. That’s when I was reminded that while the young scholars who spoke on this
day certainly did an exceptional job of sharing personal experiences in a possibly uncomfortable setting on stage in the spotlight, this was not a special group of gifted or exceptional students who think more deeply about issues of learning, school, and mental health than their peers. Rather, they were representative of the many students in your classrooms who could share equally well what happens “to” and “for” them every day in school and the things that matter most to them. If you’ve ever observed or facilitated a panel like this — from the youngest students to graduating January / February 2022
seniors — you’ve witnessed how transparent students can be when given the opportunity. Listening to student voice — checking in with them as individuals and as cohorts — should be as common and regular as starting the school day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Student commentary and insights reveal their sincere desire to be heard, their interests to be considered, and the importance of connecting with educators willing to invest time and attention in the relationship. These students shared that it matters tremendously to them when a teacher knows, understands, and accommodates a student’s difficult circumstances — not as an excuse to
do less, but to help them get through while still learning. The GSBA student panel clearly highlighted themes centered on relationships and well-being. And, not just for themselves, but for all their classmates. The students want the work they’re asked to do to be relevant and differentiated for their skills and abilities. Telling in this pandemic era, their experiences placed the importance of mental health supports front and center. As one young man observed, support isn’t just for those who are crying in the midst of a breakdown. It’s needed for others who are struggling to prevent reaching that level of crisis.
I hope you’re already an educator who regularly seeks student voice and is willing to truly hear and act on what they’re willing to share. If not, now is the perfect time to begin as this second semester gets fully underway. And, going forward, if you’re not sure exactly how to go about it, consider taking advantage of PAGE professional learning through an ENGAGE! experience. You’ll learn all about how to incorporate student interests and motivations in lesson design, gather meaningful feedback on effectiveness, and develop great relationships with students. New ENGAGE! cohorts begin this month in multiple locations. There’s no cost to attend, and PAGE will reimburse for mileage and substitutes. Visit https://www.pageinc. org/professional-learning/ for details and registration. We hope you’ll join us. Voices of Hope Education is the ultimate expression of hope as it is the longterm practical application of growing and encouraging developing minds to make the world a better place. Thank you to each Georgia educator who shared perspectives on hope for the feature content of this issue. And, thank you to each of you for all you do every day to encourage and offer hope to your students. Let’s keep moving forward!
Photo courtesy of Chris Triplett and GSBA
Executive Director Craig Harper joined PAGE in 2015 after more than 22 years in Georgia public school leadership positions. A certiﬁed trainer for Crucial Conversations and host of the PAGE Talks podcast, Harper holds a master’s in public administration from Valdosta State University.
January / February 2022
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Advocating for You Member-Developed Priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session
Educators representing each of Georgia’ 14 congressional districts, in addition to the PAGE Board of Directors, convene annually to develop PAGE’s legislative priorities. Volunteer members of the PAGE Legislative Task Force serve two-year terms and work in a number of education roles in their respective communities. This group of policyminded educators tracks the work of the Georgia General Assembly throughout the year and shapes PAGE advocacy by communicating student and educator concerns to PAGE staff, who draft the annual legislative priorities.
The PAGE Legislative Task Force is essential to PAGE advocacy efforts. To inquire about serving on the Task Force, contact PAGE Legislative Services Specialist Josh Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org. 10 | PAGE One
In September 2021, the Task Force convened in Atlanta. PAGE legislative staff provided Task Force members with an update on the state legislature and emerging state-level education policy issues under the purview of the legislative branch. Members identified top legislative issues impacting their school communities. These educator-identified issues became the 2022 PAGE Legislative Priorities, which before becoming final, were provided to the entire membership for feedback. Draft priorities were sent on October 28, 2021, to each email address associated with PAGE membership. Many thanks to everyone who contributed input. After member comment closed, the priorities were edited, finalized, and distributed to many groups: members, state legislators, executive branch staff, state agencies, education partners, and state media. PAGE legislative staff also identified independent research and survey data supporting the PAGE priorities, and the team uses both to chart PAGE advocacy beneath the Gold Dome. Educators across Georgia also share the PAGE priorities with their House and Senate members, advocating for policies which improve conditions for educators and students by pairing the PAGE priorities with personal experiences underscoring how education policy challenges and proposed solutions impact local school communities. January / February 2022
2022 PAGE Legislative Priorities Legislators and educators should work together to support Georgia‘s 1.7 million public school students and the teachers and other school personnel who serve them. Ongoing discussions and collaboration to identify shared concerns and develop thoughtful responses that address student, parent, educator, and community needs will enhance the critical services already provided by public schools. Boost Student Success in Georgia Public Schools Provide strategic investments that address students’ core academic needs. •
Ensure every student has access to high-quality instruction in every setting by investing in technology and connectivity.
Minimize learning disruptions by allowing retired educators to return to the classroom full-time and increase state funding for substitute teachers to attract high-quality candidates.
Provide funds for public schools’ core operations by eliminating the $383 million austerity cut in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
Strengthen the workforce competitiveness of the education sector by fulfilling the $2,000 pay raise promised to Georgia’s eligible state-funded school employees.
Support student and educator mental health by funding school counselors for all students.
Prevent additional disruption for public school students and taxpayers by not expanding private school vouchers, and adding needed academic accountability and fiscal transparency to the state’s two existing private school voucher programs.
The PAGE Legislative Team: Senior Policy Analyst Claire Suggs, Legislative Services Specialist Josh Stephens, and Director of Legislative Services Margaret Ciccarelli.
Strengthen Georgia’s Professional Educator Workforce Support a strong professional educator workforce by bolstering recruitment and retention efforts for public schools. •
Enable teachers to focus on delivering effective instruction by ensuring adequate paraprofessionals, bus drivers, school nutrition workers, social workers, and other core support staff are available to serve students.
Help new teachers succeed and remain in the classroom by developing a system of supports and incentives including a comprehensive mentoring program.
Encourage teachers to continue serving students in the classroom by maintaining robust legislative support for the Georgia Teachers Retirement System and recognize its potential to retain mid-career and late-career educators.
Stay Informed about Education Policy Issues that Matter to You
Each day the Georgia General Assembly is in session, PAGE publishes education-focused reports in both short and expanded form from the state Capitol. To receive up-to-the-moment news and developments, scan the QR code to the right of this message or visit https://bit.ly/3I51d3j. Learn more at www.pagelegislative.org or by visiting www.pageinc.org and selecting the legislative tab. To contact the legislative team directly, send an email to email@example.com.
January / February 2022
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SUSTAINING HOPE IN TRYING TIMES Georgia Educators Share Insights & Inspiration By Scotty Brewington
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January / February 2022
he challenges of the past two and a half school years have been unprecedented. Yet, many Georgia educators are successfully maintaining hope and resilience against all odds. We spoke with teachers throughout the state about how they’re staying strong and positive, how they’re overcoming, where they’re finding hope and inspiration in their personal lives, and how they’re bringing that hope into their professional relationships with students and peers. Why is Hope Essential?
For most educators, Katie McLeod’s story of the sudden and chaotic transfer to virtual learning in March 2020 sounds all too familiar. “The switch to virtual was kind of a mess because this is a rural area and lots of students didn’t have the resources to access virtual learning,” McLeod said. McLeod teaches honors ninth grade literature and composition at Appling County High School, where she is also a graduate. Last school year, the county started back with face-to-face instruction as well as a virtual option. For those who did not have internet access or devices but still did not want to be face-to-face, teachers created paper packets that were dropped off and collected from students each week. For McLeod, who has four schoolaged children of her own who were
January / February 2022
Katie McLeod with a few of her students at Appling County HS.
quarantined four different times, it was a tough year as a mom and as a teacher, and the challenges continue this school year. One of McLeod’s cousins, who was in his 40s, contracted COVID and succumbed to the illness. Since the pandemic began, a secretary at
the school – as well as several bus drivers – have also passed away from the virus. McLeod said that despite all of the turmoil, she actually feels more driven and hopeful now than when she started teaching six years ago.
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“Overall, it has been super challenging, but I feel like what I am doing is genuinely important in ways that I didn’t realize before,” McLeod said. “That is where a lot of my positivity and hope have come from the last few years – realizing the role I play in my students’ lives.” Sarah Strawser is in her fourth year as an exceptional education teacher at Columbia Middle School in DeKalb County, where she teaches a self-contained classroom of profoundly disabled students. Last school year, she had two students who were faceto-face and four who were virtual. This year, she has two students physically in class and two others who are attending remotely. Strawser said that being virtual is especially challenging for her students, who have difficulty physically and mentally logging on to a computer to complete online assignments. For her virtual students, she hand delivers individualized hard copy work packets each week, returning to pick up their completed work and to talk with parents about their progress. “I think the challenge is having to teach virtual and face-to-face at the same time,” said Strawser. My students need one-onone individualized attention. There are very few things they can do independently,” she noted. “It’s difficult because you want to provide the best teaching instruction you can to all of your students, but I don’t have them all in my room.” Strawser said that her resilience is what keeps her going. She finds that inner strength from her friends and colleagues, her personal relationships, her kids, and from within herself. “You can’t do this job without having strength and believing in yourself that you have a purpose,” Strawser said. “I have to have hope that I am doing something positive – that something good will come out of me teaching them. If you don’t have that faith and belief that you are doing something good, how can you spread it to others in your classroom?”
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Sarah Strawser maintaining her “sparkle” at Columbia MS.
“You can’t do this job without having strength and believing in yourself that you have a purpose.” Sarah Strawser
January / February 2022
Cultivating Hope In October, Kim Fernandez was hit with an unexpected challenge when her co-teacher tested positive for COVID. An educator at the Irish Gifted Academy in Laurens County, Fernandez teaches first grade students in a multi-grade classroom with 27 first grade and kindergarten students. Her co-teacher teaches the kindergarten students. Having a strong team of teachers around her has helped Fernandez get through the hard times. Kim Fernandez with some of her students at Irish Gifted Academy.
“Even though this is a trying time, I don’t feel like I am by myself and that kind of support is huge.” Kim Fernandez “While she was out, I had to get all of her stuff ready and all of my stuff ready – and then some kids are learning from home, so I had to get all of their distance learning materials ready for them,” Fernandez said. “It was challenging, but we are a small school and have a very supportive team. We all help each other out. Even though this is a trying time, I don’t feel like I am by myself and that kind of support is huge.”
The isolation of the past few years has also been difficult for teachers, Isham said.
“Last year, teachers were isolated. They had to stay in their rooms and eat with the kids. We are trying to move them back to having more time together this year,” she said. “Being able to get together with your colleagues and have conversations during the day is important for teachers.”
For Lisa Isham, associate superintendent and athletic director for Wilkes County, bringing back athletics as soon as possible played an integral role in cultivating hope for the entire community. “As soon as we got word that we could start athletics, we did. Athletics is important to these kids and to our community,” said Isham. “The isolation really took a toll on a lot of kids, and getting them back together to play sports was really important. It gives them a sense of belonging. We are a small community. There’s not much for kids to do except be involved with programs like athletics.” Lisa Isham handing out student meals in Wilkes County.
January / February 2022
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Laurice Brown practicing counting and number identification with students at Cooper-Carver ES.
Laurice Brown teaches pre-K math intervention at Cooper-Carver Elementary School in Terrell County. Though students are now back in-person, the mix of inperson and virtual instruction last year had a negative effect on students’ overall math comprehension, Brown said.
Brown said her school district offered various virtual self-care activities to help teachers cope with the stress, but she deeply missed the daily fellowship with other teachers. Some of her students also exhibited anxiety, which was apparent when they finally returned to the classroom.
“It is very obvious that they missed out on some standards and skills,” said Brown. “This year, I saw numbers being written backwards, the inability to write on a line, and trouble following directions even after they had been given several times.”
“There were some with anxiety, but most were happy to be back in the building. I talked to them and told them it would be OK,” said Brown. “A lot of them are being raised by older people, and they were afraid of what they were hearing at home.”
“I know I have a child to raise and I know I have to push for her. I have to be her model to show her there is still life. You have to do things you don’t want to do sometimes.”
For Brown, her The stress of inner strength comes teaching virtually from her daughter. was compounded To stay focused by the fact that and positive, she Brown, who has Laurice Brown remembers her an eight-year-old daughter is watching daughter of her her lead. own, relied on her mother to help on the days her daughter was at home. “I know I have a child to raise and I know I have to “My daughter is tech savvy and could pick things up push for her,” Brown said. “I have to be her model to pretty fast, but it was hard for my mom to assist. She did show her there is still life. You have to do things you make sure that she was on time to log on, things like don’t want to do sometimes. I believe in a higher power that,” said Brown. “Then, I would come home from work and that he is watching over us, so I have kind of calmed down as far as being afraid.” and have to assist my own child, which was stressful.”
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January / February 2022
Bringing Hope into the Classroom For McLeod, the constant quarantining and missed school days in Appling County have been hard on her students. To keep them hopeful, she reminds them that they are resilient. “It’s frustrating when it’s happening and frustrating when you get back and have to try to catch up, but there is a feeling that we are all in this together, so let’s push forward and get through it,” she said. “No one is giving up.” Dr. Kim Foster is a Teaching as a Profession (TAP) instructor at Cartersville High School in Bartow County. She is also a new teacher support specialist and former English teacher of 13 years.
“I know there are trials in this life. It may be raining today, but the sun will shine tomorrow. It all starts with me.”
Kelley Jackson Kelley Jackson, a school counselor at Macon Middle School, uses her position to bring a little fun to middle schoolers, who she said have been hit especially hard by the social isolation of the past two school years. “Any little bit of fun we can have, I try to,” said Jackson. “Now that we’re back in the building, we have ‘pop up’ celebrations. We’ll go around on a Friday and hand out free tickets to a home football game to students who have earned a good grade that week – any little thing we can do. Whatever we can do to make it fun while we’re here because, in their minds, they know we may not be here tomorrow. Tomorrow, we may not come to school.” Jackson said her community was hit hard during COVID. Two students in the same seventh grade class lost their mothers one week apart. “I have a tattoo on my left arm that means ‘hope’ in Chinese. I know there are trials in this life. It may be raining today, but the sun will shine tomorrow. It all starts with me,” said Jackson. “I go into the building with the mindset that today is going to be a great day because I don’t know what went on last night with our students and our teachers. I have to be an optimist in the building even if I have to go to my car and cry at night. There are days I am not feeling it, but when I go into the building, I know there are people counting on me.”
Dr. Kim Foster with her ‘Contemporary Issues in Education’ class at Cartersville HS.
Working with new teachers this year has been incredibly encouraging and inspiring because of their excitement to be in the classroom, despite all of the changes in protocol. Because new teachers have only known classrooms with seating charts and online platforms, the changes brought-on by COVID are somewhat more manageable for them, Foster said. “This is all they know. They don’t know what it was like to teach 10 years ago,” said Foster. “They are brighteyed and fired-up and to see that level of enthusiasm is encouraging as a teacher.”
January / February 2022
Kelley Jackson with a few of her eighth-grade peer leaders at Macon County MS.
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Jonathan Hutchins is a U.S. history teacher at Westover High School in Dougherty County. Hutchins said he is hopeful that everyone is finally back in the classroom after a year of teaching students both virtually and in-person last school year. Though there are still challenges with the pandemic – students going in and out of quarantine and having to catch-up on missed work – things are much more hopeful than they were last year. “I would take what we have this year over what we had last year any day,” said Hutchins. “You can build those relationships online, but nothing will take the place of face-to-face. There is so much more you can do with kids in the classroom. Cooperative groups work better, the Socratic method works better, everything. You can call on students and not have just one voice dominate the conversation.” Hutchins said he feeds off of the excitement his students have to be back at school. “The last few years have been the most challenging situation I have ever been in, and I stay positive by feeding off the energy the students bring,” he said. “It has been rough on all of us, but we are happy to be back in the building and around each other again. A sense of normalcy has returned, and that energy is moving us forward and Jonathan Hutchins and some of his students at Westover HS. giving us hope.” China Amey is a K-2 autism support teacher at Stonewall Tell Elementary School in Fulton County. This is her third year teaching. She spent her first two years teaching first grade at the same school. Teaching first graders virtually was challenging, Amey said. They struggled to access the online platform and log on to different classes at the right times. Even keeping their mics muted wasn’t easy. “They are still learning how to read and write, so something as simple as a chat feature
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or raising your hand on the computer was all very challenging,” said Amey. Amey said she used the opportunity to modify her lessons to make things more engaging for students. She incorporated online quizzes, which allowed her to see if they were understanding the concepts.
“The last few years have been the most challenging situation I have ever been in, and I stay positive by feeding off the energy the students bring.” Jonathan Hutchins
“They thought they were playing a game,” said Amey. “The pandemic required a change of perspective. You had to really reevaluate your method of
January / February 2022
with them and utilize those listening and coping strategies,” said Scott. “I am a hopeful person. This is not just a job for me – this is my ministry, so I am walking in purpose. My strength is through my faith and having a passion for this.” In October, Scott lost a friend to COVID, and the school also lost a staff member this school year. Still, Scott says there is hope that we will emerge a kinder society after these past few years. “One thing I have learned is to be kind to one another,” she said. “I know we get frustrated, but we have to be kind to one another.” For Fernandez, resilience is found through taking a step back and keeping things in perspective. “I’m a people pleaser. I want my students to be happy with me and parents to be happy with me, but at the end of the day, I have to know that what I did was the best I could for my students,” said Fernandez. “If I have done my best, I have to rely on that. I can’t be perfect. You can’t do everything 100 percent all of the time. You have to learn how to be the best you can be with the time and resources you have.”
China Amey working with students at Stonewall Tell ES.
teaching and look at things from the perspective of the students and understand their needs. That has carried through to how I teach my students now. I am better able to see things from their perspective and it requires me to change my approach to teaching them.” Where Do You Find Your Hope and Resilience? Before becoming the assistant principal at Willis Foreman Elementary in Richmond County, Dr. Chantell Scott was a special education teacher for 10 years. She is also a licensed professional counselor. Scott says she uses her experience in mental health – as well as her faith in God – to stay hopeful. “I do a lot of talking with teachers. I have a relationship
“One thing I have learned is to be kind to one another. I know we get frustrated, but we have to be kind to one another.”
Dr. Chantell Scott
January / February 2022
Dr. Chantell Scott and kindergarten parapro Marshelia Davis celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Willis Foreman ES.
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Alicia Allen discussing radioactivity and transmutation with a group of students at Blackmon Road MS.
In addition to finding hope and inspiration working with the next generation of teachers, Foster also finds hope in the resiliency of her students.
School in Muscogee County. Allen’s husband contracted COVID in December 2020 and died at the age of 54.
“Last year was very challenging, but the students were the saving grace. They were the ones who showed up every day and needed you to be your very best. They were the very best and that is what probably kept me sane,” said Foster. “This is a season. It’s not going to last forever. When you are doing what you are called to do, nothing should derail you completely.”
“This is a season. It’s not going to last forever. When you are doing what you are called to do, nothing should derail you completely.”
Perhaps no one has overcome more than Alicia Allen, a physical science teacher at Blackmon Road Middle
Dr. Kim Foster
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January / February 2022
a homemade “bubble” in her classroom that she constructed out of plastic sheeting. This school year, students are back in-person and the bubble has come down, but Allen is still diligent about wearing her mask because of her experience. She says her faith in God is what has pulled her through these past two years. “I like to think that I model resilience. I have made it no secret. The day he died, I pinned a message to my students and parents on Canvas and told them what had happened. I said I don’t question God’s plan. This is a horrible thing I am going through, but it is not the end of the world,” said Allen. “We have the opportunity to embrace life and keep going. As long as there is that hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, you have something to look forward to. I think the world needs to see that, yes, things have changed, but we’re still here. Let’s keep on keeping on.”
“He had been coughing and thought it was bronchitis. Then, in the middle of the night one night, he couldn’t breathe so I took him to the ER. He died the next morning,” said Allen. “I found out I was also positive the day after he died.” Last school year, when students began being phased back to in-person learning in late September, Allen ran two simultaneous classrooms. About half her students were in-person and the other half were virtual. To limit her exposure those first nine weeks back, Allen taught in the next room by herself, teaching virtually with a substitute physically in the room with her in-person students. After those initial nine weeks, she taught from January / February 2022
“As long as there is that hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, you have something to look forward to. I think the world needs to see that, yes, things have changed, but we’re still here. Let’s keep on keeping on.” Alicia Allen PAGE One | 21
Nikki Hampton at W. L. Swain ES.
“We can be overwhelmed by the pandemic and what has happened to us, or we can position ourselves as overcomers.” Catherine “Nikki” Hampton is no stranger to adversity. A 2022 Georgia Teacher of the Year finalist, Hampton is a STEAM teacher at W.L. Swain Elementary School in Gordon County. Though she began teaching in 1995, Hampton took a 10-year break to be with her son, Coulter, who was ill with a rare blood disorder. After being rejected by multiple hospitals, a surgeon in Ohio agreed to perform an experimental procedure to save Coulter’s life. He was just eight years old. “They told us there was a less than 4 percent chance that it would work, but we moved up there for three and a half months,” said Hampton. “On New Year’s Eve, he had a bone marrow transplant. It was successful, but he passed away in March after catching a cold in the hospital.” After losing her son, Hampton and her husband, also a teacher, totaled-up their medical bills. They owed nearly $200,000. Another teacher friend suggested Hampton create a foundation to help with her out-of-pocket expenses. Today, the Coulter Hampton Foundation helps families cover the associated expenses of caring for a severely ill child. To date, it has provided aid to more than 50 families.
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The foundation helps by paying everything from transportation to out-of-state hotel rooms while children are receiving treatment – whatever families need to stay afloat. “Every family is different. Some need food; others may need gas. I had one family who put off surgery for three years because they couldn’t afford the parking,” Hampton said. After Coulter’s death in 2005, Hampton went back to school to earn her master’s degree and returned to education in Gordon County. But in 2013, tragedy struck again. Her home was destroyed by a tornado. When it hit, she was at school. “The tornado literally jumped over our school and landed on the other side where my neighborhood was,” said Hampton. “We had become foster parents after Coulter passed away, and my husband was at home with our teenage daughter and our 18-month-old foster child. The tornado picked up our whole house and moved it.” The two girls were knocked into a back bedroom and Hampton’s husband was pinned in the basement. All three survived. “Things I had saved from my son – his artwork, his kindergarten graduation gown – they were all over the yard,” said Hampton. “I started running around, picking everything up. We ended up moving to the other side of the county near a mountain because my daughter said
January / February 2022
The Hampton house after it was damaged by a tornado.
tornados don’t come toward mountains.” Since the move, Hampton and her husband have adopted a total of three foster children. She also has two daughters of her own. Though it has been a difficult road, Hampton has never lost hope.
“The tornado literally jumped over our school and landed on the other side where my neighborhood was.”
“I’ve seen the worst of the worst,” said Hampton. All of those things people are afraid of? I have lived through them and come out on the other side.” Hampton said she and her family always try to find the joy in a situation and focus on their connection to other people. When the pandemic struck, she wasn’t angry. “It’s just another thing that has happened, and we have to engineer our way out of it,” said Hampton. “I took it as a challenge. How can we make it more bearable; how can we work our way out of this?” Hampton said that when she talks to her students, she tells them that hope isn’t about the present or the past
January / February 2022
– it’s about the future – and how you handle failure will play a big part in your success. “You can’t take failure personally. Failure happens to everyone, all day long, but how you take failure is huge,” she said. “In our class, we say, ‘It’s OK if I don’t know it yet. I can learn.’ Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. You’re not stuck – it’s an opportunity to try again.” Hampton has relied on her optimism these past two tumultuous years. “We can be overwhelmed by the pandemic and what has happened to us, or we can position ourselves as overcomers,” she said. “As educators, we need to step up and be the heroes. We solve problems all day long. This is just another problem we have to solve.”
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Kyle Gooden with an engineering student at Upson-Lee HS.
“The nature of hope is that it’s something that is banked. We don’t find it in a moment, but we build it over time.” Kyle Gooden remembers what it was like to struggle as a student.
Now, he teaches engineering and technology at UpsonLee High School in Pike County.
“I had a tough experience as a student. I was diagnosed with learning issues and placed in a special ed class,” said Gooden. “My parents decided to homeschool me, and I wound up getting my GED. I thought I couldn’t learn and struggled with my self-image.”
“The experiences and challenges I have faced give me a different perspective of my students,” said Gooden. “I don’t want any student to struggle. I want to help them find out why they are struggling and help them find success.”
It wasn’t until years later that Gooden’s wife suggested he leave his career in technology to become a teacher. He initially scoffed at the idea, but over the next few years, two nights a week after his regular job, he earned a degree.
For Gooden, it was a baptism by fire. His first year as a teacher was the year before the pandemic.
This school year is Gooden’s third year teaching. The first two, he taught ELA to middle and high schoolers.
“I remember walking into my classroom that first day of pre-planning and thinking, ‘What have I done? What am I going to say?’” said Gooden. “When COVID hit the next year, I hadn’t really had the opportunity to feel settled or comfortable, so while it was intimidating and scary, the uncertainty side of it was kind of in my wheelhouse.”
“People were dying all around me … It really caused me to refocus on what matters.” 24 | PAGE One
A few weeks into this school year, Gooden woke up one morning and realized he couldn’t smell. He had COVID. Gooden received a monoclonal antibody
January / February 2022
infusion treatment, but by that night, he was having trouble breathing. He drove himself to the hospital and by the time he reached the door of the emergency room, he could barely stand. “I remember that first night at the hospital, laying there struggling to breathe,” said Gooden. “As the night progressed, people were dying all around me. Over that night and the following nights, it really caused me to refocus on what matters.” While in the hospital, the community rallied around him, sharing their prayers for his recovery. Gooden said he emerged from the hospital humbled, inspired, and with an even stronger drive to help others see their value. “I’m a foster parent, so I know a lot about what some of these kids face,” said Gooden. “I start the year out by saying, ‘I love you and I hope by the end of the semester you’ll know what I mean.’ It kind-of freaks them out, but I know there are kids in my classroom who don’t hear those words.
I want to invest in them so they can begin to see that someone cares about what their tomorrow will look like.” Gooden has five children including an adopted daughter that he and his wife began fostering when she was just 2 years old. The summer after they adopted her, a friend called Gooden’s wife with news that a newborn baby was in dire need of a foster family. Gooden and his wife agreed to take the baby temporarily. That baby, now 2 years old, is “officially” theirs forever. Gooden said he tries to bring his life experience and sense of hope into the classroom. “It brings credence to what I am saying. It makes it real,” he said. “The nature of hope is that it’s something that is banked. We don’t find it in a moment, but we build it over time. I tell my kids, ‘Each one of you has something special and unique to offer the world.’ The first thing I have to do as a teacher is offer them that. The rest will come. If they can’t see their own value, how will they care about math, science, and technology?”
Kyle Gooden and his family (pictured in back, from left to right): Kyle Grace, Kyle holding his newly-adopted daughter, River, Nelle and Luke. Pictured in front, left to right, Adelyn and Levi.
January / February 2022
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Chastity Coleman with some of her eighth grade band students at Rex Mill MS.
“COVID is here, but we can still be great. We can get through this together.” Chastity Coleman finds her inspiration in faith and her love of music. A band teacher at Rex Mill Middle School in Clayton County, she’s been teaching virtually for a significant portion of the past two years. Teaching middle school students how to play instruments virtually is especially challenging, but Coleman, a 16-year teaching veteran, is determined to stay optimistic. “I went in thinking, how can I innovate?” said Coleman. “I hope that people understand that anything is possible. Music can get us through anything. It has gotten me through my whole life.” Despite her optimism, Coleman admits it hasn’t been easy. Middle schoolers don’t always put schoolwork front and center, and during a pandemic, they’re even more unpredictable. “I thought my kids would also be hopeful and optimistic and do everything they could during the school year, but it wasn’t like that. Some of my top kids who did everything right when we were face-to-face wouldn’t do anything virtually. But at the end of the day, I knew if I gave up, they would give up, and we wouldn’t
26 | PAGE One
have anything to show for it,” said Coleman. Even though students are back in the classroom this year, there are still challenges. Coleman tested positive for COVID in the fall. While quarantining, she continued to log on virtually from home so that her students wouldn’t fall behind. “I logged on that week of my quarantine and taught what I could teach,” said Coleman. “Even when I was supposed to be resting, I was posting assignments so we wouldn’t be behind.” Coleman said she will never forget when one of her sixth-grade classes played their first note together virtually. “They played together and heard that they can make music – they can make this sound – and over a computer!” To Coleman, there is always hope. “COVID is here, but we can still be great,” she said. “Yes, I am resilient. And you can be resilient, too. We can get through this together.”
January / February 2022
A Note from a School Psychologist By Emilie Menser, School Psychologist, Chattahoochee - Flint RESA
ope and resilience are essential to being an educator. They’re an integral part of what we do. Every year, we are given new challenges, and every year we adapt to those challenges. We acclimate. We thrive. We give our best to our students, our peers, and the communities we serve. Yet, how many of us have looked in the mirror these past two years and thought, can I keep doing this?; will I be able to make it through?; how can I renew my strength?; where can I find hope? As educators, we’ve been presented with previously unimaginable challenges – a worldwide pandemic, political turmoil, social unrest, escalating inflation, and so much January / February 2022
more. These are the filters our students are learning through. This is the new world we are living and teaching in. So, how do we maintain resiliency in all of this? How do we remain hopeful when facing the daunting tasks before us? We all hear the term “self-care” a lot. But now, more than ever before, it is imperative that educators remember that we can’t pour from an empty vessel. We must take care of our needs in order to continue doing the work we are passionate about. Meditation, prayer, exercise, mindfulness, and quality time with loved ones are ways to help build up our internal reserves. PAGE One | 27
“All of us find that our lights dim from time to time — regardless of our efforts.” It’s also important that we remember to look to our educational community as well. Having colleagues to lean on, vent to, or just ask for support is essential.
boost someone needed that day. And, words of support provide comfort to the givers of encouragement as well as to those who receive them.
We are all stretched thin and carrying heavier than usual burdens right now. But we also carry around a light inside of us, and we need to share that light whenever possible.
Yet, all of us find that our lights dim from time to time — regardless of our efforts. It is in these seasons that it is essential to ask for help. The list below provides some sources of help. Please reach out if you need them.
Offering encouraging words and compliments as often as possible helps build community and may provide that
Thank you for all you do, every day, for Georgia’s students and families. n
n Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Available in many Georgia districts, EAPs provide a certain number
of free sessions with local therapeutic agencies. Contact your district’s HR department to ask about EAP benefits
n Crisis Text Line: Text “HELLO” to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor who will provide support and resources; available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week
n American Psychological Association: Call 1-800-374-2721 for contact information of local therapists in your area
n The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists (NACBT): Call 1-800-853-1135 for contact information of licensed CBT therapists in your area
n Online therapy: www.talkspace.com n National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), En español 1-888-628-9454;
Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 (or text to 838255). Available 24/7 to any veteran
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January / February 2022
Need to Contact PAGE? Here’s How: General Inquiries 770-216-8555 (option 3); 800-334-6861 (option 3) firstname.lastname@example.org PAGE Attorneys 770-216-8555 (option 1) email@example.com Professional Learning 706-459-0302 firstname.lastname@example.org
PAGE Lobbyists 770-216-8555 email@example.com Member Services 770-216-8555 (option 2) firstname.lastname@example.org
To locate contact information for your membership services representative, turn to page 43 of this issue or visit www.pageinc.org/membership.
THE HOME OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL
There’s only one home for the traditions, stories and iconic ﬁgures of the 150 years of Saturdays: The Chick-ﬁl-A College Football Hall of Fame.
January / February 2022
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Protection AdvocAcy Growth economy
We’ve Got You Covered.
• $1 million liability coverage
• $10,000 coverage policy for legal defense of employment, criminal, and ethics cases with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission • All coverage is “win or lose” with no reimbursements, deductibles, or up-front costs • Direct access to one-on-one, privileged, and confidential guidance from an expert legal team with more than 75 years combined educator-specific experience • Interactive Code of Ethics presentations, FAQs, and informative resources. Access the COVID-19 FAQ at https://bit.ly/3nxydHy • See page 36 for this month’s legal column
• Your voice at the Capitol — and with policymakers at the local, state, and national level • Safety-focused advocacy and recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect educator health and well-being. Visit www.pageinc.org/advocating-for-you for details • Lobbying lawmakers and administrators to improve benefits and work environment, protect TRS, reduce high-stakes testing, and more • Providing testimony, media interviews, legislative reports, and coordination of member advocacy events. Visit www.pagelegislative.org to learn more
• Professional learning opportunities throughout the state — PAGE Engage!, PAGE Engage! Induction, The Transformational Principal Institute (TPI), and The Exceptional Assistant Principal (EAP). Learn more and register at www.pageinc.org/professional-learning/ • Grants to support your classroom and growth as a Georgia educator. Founded at the onset of the pandemic, PAGE Educator Grants have assisted more than 300 members to date. $100,000 to be awarded this calendar year. See page 32 for details and links to the grant application • Scholarships to support your continuing education and career goals. More than $580,000 awarded since program inception. Up to $27,000 to be awarded this calendar year. See page 33 for details and links to the scholarship application • Teacher and student recognition programs and academic competitions: STAR, Academic Decathlon, and more • Future Georgia Educators initiatives support Georgia’s teacher pipeline. Learn more at www.pageinc.org/fge/ •
PAGE One magazine, annual New Teacher Guide, educator resource materials, and more to keep you informed
ECONOMY • More benefits than any other Georgia educator association • Your best value: — Less than $15 monthly for certified personnel — Less than $8 monthly for support staﬀ • Dues support you — not political action committees; local, state, or national candidates; national organizations; or non-education issues • Dues stay in Georgia to work for you • See page 42 to learn more about membership services and how to contact the PAGE representative in your area PAGE is the nation’s largest independent educator association — with members serving in every Georgia school district — and the best option for your professional future. Membership is available to all Georgia educators and school employees, as well as college and high school students enrolled in education courses. Learn more at www.pageinc.org.
A New Year Brings New Opportunities for Financial Awards from PAGE Educator Grants Would $500 make a positive difference for you and your students? If so, apply today for a PAGE Educator Grant. You’re doing incredible work in trying times. A PAGE Educator Grant can help you acquire additional resources for your students, classrooms, and digital learning needs. Founded at the onset of the pandemic, these grants have assisted more than 300 members to date. Open to all PAGE members. • $100,000 in grant funds will be awarded this year • Applications closing soon: Jan. 30 • Apply today at https://www.pageinc.org/2022-educator-grant/ • Questions? Send an email to email@example.com Not sure how you would use a PAGE educator grant? Here’s a glimpse of how a few previous winners have applied the funds:
“Items purchased with the PAGE grant are directly benefiting students who are struggling with social/emotional needs. We have created calm-down kits to use with students in Pre-K through first grade who need emotional support.” — Ben Pitchford, Colquitt County Schools “I would like to thank PAGE for giving teachers the opportunities to apply for grants to help fund needed resources for students. We were able to create a multi-sensory learning station that helps develop sight word fluency.” — Darniele Scarpinato, Cobb County Schools
“My students are deaf and hard of hearing and use American Sign Language. When making math videos, instead of turning around to write on the board, I purchased a clear glass board along with an easel stand. When using sign language for directional signs such as ‘move the decimal left,’ the viewpoint of the presenter and the viewer are opposite. When editing, I use the mirror format to flip the video and make the signing viewpoint correct for the viewer.” — Loren Frick, Georgia School for the Deaf “I desire to provide virtual students every opportunity to gain and retain mathematical skills. PAGE definitely helped me push forward in making sure this desire became a reality. With the help of the grant, I purchased and created a math manipulative learning tool kit.” — Nicole Burkes, Muscogee County Schools “I used my grant to purchase a large whiteboard, document camera, ring light, and math manipulatives. All of these items will help my students because the items are similar to what is in our classroom. I’m definitely more prepared for distance learning thanks to my PAGE grant!” — Katie Farrar, Rome City Schools 32 | PAGE One
January / February 2022
Scholarships Could you benefit from up to $1,500 in support of continuing education and career growth? If so, you may qualify for a PAGE Foundation scholarship. Awarded annually to teachers pursuing advanced degrees, paraprofessionals studying to become teachers, and educator-pathway college students, scholarships are open to all PAGE members. • Up to $27,000 in scholarships available this year • More than $580,000 awarded since program inception • Applications open through May 27 for 2022 awards • Learn more and apply at https://www.pageinc.org/scholarships/ • Questions? Contact scholarship coordinator Michelle Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org Need additional inspiration to submit an application? Check out what a few previous winners have to say about the value of a PAGE Foundation scholarship:
“Receiving this scholarship has lifted a financial burden off my shoulders and allowed me to continue to focus on my studies.” — NelSilva Erica Wolf; Award applied to degree program at Georgia Southern University
“I am so grateful for this PAGE Foundation scholarship and I am excited to spend the next four years furthering my education with a degree in Early Childhood Education.” — Amy Elizabeth Tucker; Award applied to degree program at Cedarville University
“Receiving a PAGE Foundation scholarship is important to me because it will help me advance my education and help me reach a point in my life when I can help give back to others.” — Roberto Carrillo; Award applied to degree program at Valdosta State University
“Being a recipient of a PAGE Foundation Scholarship is important to me as it is a much-needed investment towards my education, and it ensures that I will be successful in all my endeavors as I enter my final semester as a music education major.” — Faith Alexis Parker; Award applied to degree program at Mercer University
“This scholarship will help me reach my goal of a leadership endorsement so that I can have a positive impact in the future on the students and families with whom I work.” — Daniel Lawson Stansberry III; Award applied to degree program at Columbus State University
“As a 51-year-old, single mother of three teenagers, going to graduate school for a master’s in special education was not an easy decision, and this scholarship helps me realize that I am capable and truly blessed. Thank you.” — Theresa Lee Schulte; Award applied to degree program at Liberty University
January / February 2022
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Educational Equity Initiative Report By Dr. Oatanisha Dawson & Craig Harper
PAGE equity work is based on its long-standing belief in building meaningful relationships with each student and including student interests and experiences when designing lessons. That foundational approach to teaching and learning encourages those who adopt it to ensure that students are seen as individuals with unique talents and motivations, not viewed according to academic labels or group identities. Every student deserves the best that schools can offer. This fundamental moral imperative embraced by Georgia educators can get lost in the sheer complexity of managing the overwhelming responsibility of daily lesson planning and addressing all that happens in a classroom. The gap between expectations and reality continues because of everything else that demands attention.
with the Professional Learning team to ensure that our work and content address how educators can influence educational equity issues for students. That includes providing an environment for educators to engage in these important discussions with thought leaders and each other. Additionally, the committee serves to consider and propose ideas for professional learning with a specific equity focus.
With the support and direction of the PAGE Board of Directors, PAGE initiated an Educational Equity Committee in February 2021. The goal is to collaborate
The conversations led to the adoption of an educational equity lens specific to PAGE for reviewing any professional learning offerings.
Educational Equity Committee Members
Dr. Oatanisha Dawson President, PAGE Board of Directors
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Dr. Hayward Cordy
President, PAGE Foundation
Lauren Atkinson Staff Attorney
Membership Services Representative
Professional Learning Director
January / February 2022
As it has for more than two decades, PAGE’s overarching professional learning philosophy places student relationships and interests as the foundational basis for instructional design and engagement. Therefore, our work at its core addresses equity by asking the important questions of who one’s students are, what they bring to the classroom, and what needs must be met for them to be successful? However, more direct awareness and understanding of issues that can either obscure or disregard the challenges some students face deserves more attention. That’s what PAGE’s enhanced focus on equity intends to address. The first activity emerging from this work was a virtual book study of Shattering Inequities: Real-World Wisdom for School and District Leaders. The five-session study was led by Dr. Robbie Hooker, superintendent of Social Circle City Schools, and his team. A wide range of approaches to addressing equity issues are available for leaders and organizations who choose to address them. The perspective in the book — echoed by Dr. Hooker — is that educators can best influence others and demonstrate leadership on the often-sensitive topics of culture, race, ethnicity, and poverty through grace rather than confrontation and condemnation. That perspective aligns well with the forward-facing, positive approach of PAGE’s work. To support members interested in the study, PAGE provided complimentary books to the first 150 registrants. Participants from throughout the state were a diverse group encompassing many roles in education and levels of experience. During breakout sessions, educators engaged in rich, wide-ranging conversations about their awareness of equity issues and the experiences of their students.
spirited nor confrontational. Guided by the true, right, and just vision of equity for all rather than a host of other possible motivations, equity leaders can change school and district systems, impact our most vulnerable students, and change entire communities. We all can and must break through the educational glass ceiling to create equitable systems that ensure that every student receives the excellent education that currently only some receive.” (La Salle, Robin Avelar; Johnson, Ruth S.. Shattering Inequities (pp. 136-138). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition).
The Shattering Inequities authors make the following observation about the educational leaders who made a difference in the schools and districts they researched:
Meeting the equity challenges present in our schools and communities for student benefit is essential. PAGE professional learning serves to assist you in developing the awareness and skills to take on this challenge.
“They worked within the system, engaged in selfreflection, and facilitated self-discovery in others, demonstrating respect and dignity for the adults who work within the schools and districts with the goal of inspiring as many people as possible from across the system to become an integral part of the solution. Disrupting inequities need not be mean-
The Educational Equity Committee and the PAGE Professional Learning department encourage your participation in efforts to ensure that all students benefit from meaningful educational experiences. You can join future PAGE endeavors, engage with colleagues in your school or district, or take a first step to lead equity work on behalf of those you serve.
January / February 2022
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Summative Assessments: Your New Appeal Rights
Georgia educators are evaluated annually for their job performance. This requirement is derived from state law and Georgia State Board of Education (SBOE) rules.1 The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) developed the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) as a tool for these evaluations. Each year, after completing the TKES process, educators receive an overall summative rating of “Exemplary,” “Proficient,” “Needs Development,” or “Ineffective.” While not all personnel are evaluated using TKES, there is still an annual evaluation process that occurs according to local board policies and state law. Until recently, Georgia teachers had an appeal right for procedural deficiencies pertaining to the evaluation process, but no appeal right for a disagreement on an actual summative rating. Last year, Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 86 (HB 86), sponsored by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) and carried in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). This bill revised code section 20-2-989.7, titled “matters not subject 36 | PAGE One
to complaint.” 2 HB 86 requires a policy to be created for teachers to appeal performance ratings of “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective.”3 The following addresses some of the most commonly asked questions regarding this revised section of law. When does HB86 take effect? The newly revised law took effect on July 1, 2021.4 Do all Georgia educators have the right to appeal an “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective” rating under code section 20-2-989.7? According to the revised law, only educators who have signed their fourth or subsequent consecutive contract with their employing district have a right to appeal these ratings.5 January / February 2022
What is the first thing you should do if you want to exercise your appeal right?
Educators should consult their local board policies to ensure they are meeting all requirements to initiate the appeal process in their school district. Each district will have its own requirements.
What are districts required to include in their local policy? The new appeals policy must include: 1. 2. 3.
A method and reasonable timelines for filing an appeal that minimize the burden on both parties, A statement that a teacher shall not be the subject of any reprisal as a result of filing an appeal under code section 20-2-989.7, A provision that an appeal hearing may be conducted by an independent third party or an administrator in the system office on behalf of the school official or local unit of administration, and A method to receive the decision of the independent third party or system administrator.6 Who conducts the appeal hearing?
The newly revised code section states that appeal hearings may be conducted by an independent third party on behalf of school officials, a school administrator in the system office or local unit of administration.7 Educators should consult their local board policies to see who conducts the hearing at each level of the appeal process. Can an educator have a representative present during the appeal process? Code section 20-2-989.7 is silent on this point.8 Therefore, educators should consult their local board policies to see if a representative is allowed and, if so, on which levels of the appeal process. Do districts have to submit these appeal policies to anyone? Each county was required to submit a copy of its complaint policy established pursuant to code section 20-2-989.7 to the GaDOE no later than Aug. 1, 2021. If the policy changes, the code requires that these changes be submitted as well.9 What can the subject of a complaint be under the revised code section? Educators can submit a complaint that pertains to the following issues under this code section: 1. Procedural deficiencies January / February 2022
Summative performance ratings of “Unsatisfactory” or “Ineffective” contained in personnel evaluations conducted pursuant to code section 20-2-210, and Job performance.10 What cannot be a subject of complaint under the revised code section?
An educator cannot submit a complaint pertaining to the following subjects: 1. Termination 2. Non-renewal 3. Demotion 4. Reprimands 5. Certificate actions like suspension, revocation, etc., and 6. Anything already appealed to the SBOE under code section 20-2-1160.11 What happens if an educator is subjected to retaliation for filing appeal under code section 20-2-989.7? The law states: “Should any reprisal occur, the teacher may refer the matter to the Professional Standards Commission.”12 PAGE attorneys are here to help. Should you have additional questions not answered above, or if you need assistance with an appeal or other legal matter, please contact us to speak with a PAGE attorney. Call 770216-8555 (option 1) or send an email to email@example.com. O.C.G.A. §§20-2-200(2010), 210(2010), 240(2014); State Board of Education Rule 160-5-1-.37 (2016) 2 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 3 Education; complaints policy for teachers and other school personnel; provisions, H.B. 86, 155th Cong (2021) 4 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 5 O.C.G.A. §20-2989.7 (revised 2021) 6 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 7 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 8 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 9 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 10 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 11 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 12 O.C.G.A. §20-2-989.7 (revised 2021) 1
Lauren Atkinson is a PAGE staff attorney. A former middle school educator with Atlanta Public Schools and graduate of Mercer University School of Law, Atkinson has served PAGE members for three years.
PAGE One | 37
LEAD. LEARN. CHANGE.
It’s what educators do every day. And the title of a new book dedicated to teaching and learning.
PAGE One editors recently sat down with David Reynolds, a former Georgia educator who runs point for the PAGE Impact Project, to talk about his first book, Lead. Learn. Change. 38 | PAGE One
January / February 2022
PAGE One: Where did the idea originate for the book and its title? David: It all started with the Impact Project – a research and analysis initiative designed to explore PAGE’s positive impact on Georgia educators, students, and public education. As that work gained traction, it didn’t take long to realize that the information our team was gathering could be embedded in a book blending data, anecdotes, and commentary with an in-depth look into what PAGE does and why we do it. Then, when an opportunity surfaced for me to learn about podcasting, that led to the creation of the Lead. Learn. Change. podcast. The idea of using the podcast and the book together to delve deeply into the topic of teaching and learning was a natural next step. In the book, in a section where I counter the baseless argument that educators are satisfied with the status quo, I wrote, “the very essence of teaching is change.” In fact, teachers may be the single largest factor in effecting change. Because teachers are leaders, and are the “lead learners” in their classroom, the words in the title, Lead. Learn. Change. provide a framework from which to share facts, different perspectives, and great ideas about the noble field of education. PAGE One: What have you learned through writing the book? David: Before I answer, I want to go back to the first question. Lead. Learn. Change. is a fitting title for a book that highlights PAGE’s work because those three words really do characterize what we do. PAGE leads – via legal representation for members, legislative advocacy for Georgia’s teachers and public education, and in teacher pipeline efforts. PAGE focuses on educators and others who either directly teach students or who support those teaching January / February 2022
efforts in some way, all in service of learning. And, PAGE has done so consistently for almost 50 years, amid all the challenges, opportunities, and changes that have emerged during that time. The book provides more details, of course, but the main idea is that PAGE is a great way to think about the lead, learn, and change concepts. As far as what I learned during the writing of the book: A lot! I became acquainted with copy, line, and developmental editing; I became aware of aspects of layout and design; and I was immersed in the self-publishing process from conception to distribution. The most important lesson though was the value of generous feedback. I wrote a lot of the material for the book inside a community of fellow writers, all of whom were working on different projects. Their feedback, suggestions, questions, and encouragement really made the book come together. If it weren’t for their persistent, consistent, and sometimes insistent support, Lead. Learn. Change. would not yet be written. Because of the generosity of others, I was reminded of the true value of sharing what you know. PAGE One: Do you have plans to continue writing? David: Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean it has to be a book, although that’s very likely. There are all forms of writing that can make a difference for others. Inside PAGE’s recent Shattering Inequities book study for example, I had the chance to write prompts for reflection, generate callto-action statements, craft opinion pieces, and respond to questions from participants. Everybody has a microphone and an available platform to share great ideas. If we take a positive and professional approach, each of us can have a meaningful impact on others. There is nothing stopping any PAGE One | 39
Acclaim for Lead. Learn. Change. “How do we teach decency in thought and in deed in a profession that intentionally cultivates our future by means of our children? We educators who divest of self, and actually feel good about it, will especially appreciate this book.”
Author David Reynolds is also the host of the Lead. Learn. Change. podcast
of us from reaching out to at least one person and taking one step to make one change. When we do, it’s almost guaranteed that we will use words — spoken or written — to help make our idea a reality. So, yes, more writing is on the way!
each of them took. Someone once said: “To the world you may be only one person, but to one person you may be the world.” That becomes obvious when immersed in challenging projects. It’s often “the others” who help bring them to fruition.
PAGE One: Is there a favorite story, section, or concept you wish to highlight for our readers?
PAGE One: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?
David: Favorite story? Probably “Stand Up!,” “Line Segment of Influence,” or “In the Blink of an Eye.” Favorite section or concept? I would point to the “Words to Live By” sections, and the pull quotes – because I think another book could be generated from those excerpts. I also return to the idea of “the others.” There are so many people who have their fingerprints on this book, some of whom I have known for decades, and others I’ve known for a very short time. The common thread is the genuinely supportive stance that
David: Yes! Please read the book. But a more important step you can take is to set aside a moment to express gratitude to a teacher. That may be someone you work with today, a teacher from long ago, a family member who taught you something unbelievably important, or someone else who shared their expertise with you just because they knew you wanted to learn. Hearing a word of thanks is a huge encouragement. It doesn’t take much time, so add it to your calendar once or twice every year. It will make a difference in someone’s life.
— Dr. Felicia Mayfield Associate Professor and Chair of Curriculum and Instruction, Clark Atlanta University
“What routines blind me? What do I need to let go of? Who do I surround myself with? This book leads the reader to ask, and act on, these important questions.” — Hannah Talley Award-winning Georgia educator
“If you're ready to make a real difference as a teacher, or in any other human endeavor, this book is an excellent guide." — Scott Perry Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose
Lead. Learn. Change. is available as an eBook and paperback on Amazon.com at https://www.pageinc.org/lead-learn-change-the-book/ and may soon be added to additional outlets. All profits from the book will support the Dr. Allene Magill Scholarship Fund — overseen by the PAGE Foundation and awarded annually with 12 additional PAGE scholarships. Questions or comments for Lead. Learn. Change. author David Reynolds? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 40 | PAGE One
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IS YOUR MEMBER INFORMATION CURRENT? System Transfer If you transferred from a school system where you were on payroll deduction, you’ll need to provide PAGE with this new information in order to avoid expiration of membership. Student Members Your PAGE student membership does not cover you for a paid position in a school – even if your student membership has not expired. Please upgrade your student membership to professional, taking advantage of your first year half-price discount. Accurate Contact Information is Essential Review your contact information, updating if needed, to ensure accuracy. Providing a personal email rather than a work email address is preferred as some school system filters will prevent receipt of messages. Visit https://membership.pageinc.org/Members/SignUp or scan the QR code below to confirm or update your information.
Professional Association of Georgia Educators Legal Defense Fund Consolidating Statements of Activities for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2021 Net Assets Without Donor Restrictions Revenues, Gains and Other Support PAGE Contribution – operations PAGE Contribution - reserve Interest Income Total revenue, gains and other support Expense Legal Expenses License Renewal Total Expenses Increase (Decrease) Unrestricted Net Assets Without Donor Restrictions Beginning Net Assets Without Donor Restrictions Ending Net Assets Without Donor Restrictions
FY21 LEGAL AD FROM PAGE
$ 1,000,000 $ 350,000 $ 6,715 $ 1,356,715 $ 785,278 $ 500 $ 785,778 $ 570,937 $ 3,056,133 $ 3,627,070
Professional Association of Georgia Educators Legal Defense, Inc. Consolidating Statements of Financial Position June 30, 2021 Assets Cash, Cash Equivalents, Short-Term Investments And Legal Reserve Fund Total Assets Liabilities and Net Assets Liabilities Legal Claims Payable Legal Claims Loss Reserve Taxes Payable Total Liabilities Net Assets Without Donor Restrictions Total Liabilities and Net Assets
January / February 2022
January / February 2022
$ 4,478,943 $ 4,478,943 $ 57,368 $ 728,474 $ 66,031 $ 851,873 $ 3,627,070 $ 4,478,943
PAGE One | 41 PAGE One | 41
PAGE MSRs and CSRs: Who Are They and How Can They Help? • Wondering who to reach out to when you have questions about your PAGE membership? • Have an issue or concern that you need to bring to PAGE’s attention — but aren’t sure what department or staff member to contact? • Interested in scheduling a Code of Ethics presentation at your school or district office? • Looking for information about a Future Georgia Educators (FGE) program or event? • Need to know the name of your PAGE building contact or how to subscribe to PAGE Capitol Reports? For answers to these questions and more, call or email your PAGE Membership Services Representative (MSR) or College Services Representative (CSR). Use the map on the right to locate contact information for your PAGE MSR/CSR, or send general inquiries to email@example.com.
My membership services representative has proven to be superior in providing services for me and other PAGE members in my building. She responds quickly to all questions that are posed to her and will find an answer — even if it takes some research. Our representative always has a positive attitude and makes all members feel heard and valued. It is comforting to know that our PAGE representative is only a phone call away when questions or concerns arise. Pat Sachjen PAGE District 3b | 28-year Member | Science Teacher | Osborne Middle School Gwinnett County Public Schools
42 | PAGE One
January / February 2022
Membership Services Representatives Jo Breedlove-Johnson District 3a jbreedlove@ (Fulton/Cherokee) pageinc.org
Laurie Provost District 3b lprovost@ pageinc.org
Gina Tucker District 4b (Clayton, APS) firstname.lastname@example.org
Diann Branch District 9 email@example.com
Larrell Lewis-Oliver District 4a firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Ratcliffe District 7 email@example.com
Kathy Arena District 10 firstname.lastname@example.org Shirley Wright District 5 email@example.com
Peggy Brown District 11 firstname.lastname@example.org
BJ Jenkins District 6 email@example.com
Joey Kirkland District 12 firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Woods District 1 email@example.com
Gwen Desselle District 2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Clements District 13 email@example.com
Dale Gillespie District 8 firstname.lastname@example.org
College Services Representatives Diane Ray email@example.com
Jo Breedlove-Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
Dale Gillespie Mary Ruth Ray email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit https://www.pageinc.org/membership to access additional details about PAGE membership – including this MSR / CSR map. January / February 2022
PAGE One | 43
The PAGE One Team PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS
President Dr. Oatanisha Dawson President-Elect To be filled
Past President Lindsey Martin
Treasurer Lamar Scott
Secretary Dr. Susan Mullins
Ramona Mills Communications Director PAGE One Executive Editor
PAGE BOARD OF DIRECTORS District 1 To be filled District 2 Brecca Pope
District 8 Joy Robinson
District 3 Mary Case
District 9 Jennie Persinger
District 4 Rochelle Lofstrand
District 10 Khrista Henry
District 5 Dr. Shannon Watkins
District 11 Amy Carter
District 6 Melanie Lockett
District 12 TaKera Harris
District 7 Lance James
District 13 Daerzio Harris
DIRECTORS REPRESENTING RETIRED PAGE MEMBERS Vickie Hammond
Communications Specialist PAGE One Graphic Designer
Communications Specialist PAGE One Graphic Designer
Passionate about clear, engaging communications, Ramona is an alumna of UCLA who honed her craft in the film industry before founding a Georgia-based creative agency. An education policy fellow and former district II chair of the Georgia School Public Relations Association, Ramona led DeKalb County School District’s stakeholder engagement initiative – launching an awardwinning magazine and branding campaign. Ramona joined the PAGE Communications team in 2018. An alumna of the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, LaTria spent 15 years in print journalism as editor of several weekly newspapers throughout metro Atlanta and a regional monthly lifestyle magazine. She’s covered everything from speeches from a sitting president, former first lady, award-winning authors, and many notable local citizens. She has served PAGE members for nearly two years. Dolly brings to PAGE experience in the Atlanta news media, in higher education, and at several non-profits. An Agnes Scott College alumna and Leadership DeKalb graduate, she has garnered top awards for writing and photography from Georgia Press Association, Suburban Newspapers of America, Georgia PTA, and others. She is NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity’s photographer in her spare time.
Dr. Sheryl Holmes
To contact the PAGE One Team, email us at email@example.com.
The articles published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated.
deductible. PAGE estimates that seven percent of the nondeductible portion of dues is allocated to lobbying.
To submit a topic for consideration, visit https://bit.ly/3oh86DM. For advertising rates and opportunities, contact Sherry Gasaway of New South Publishing: 770-650-1102, Ext. 145. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions by federal law. Costs for PAGE lobbying on behalf of members are not 44 | PAGE One
PAGE One (ISSN 1523-6188) ©copyright 2022 is mailed to all PAGE members, selected higher education units, and other school-related professionals. An annual subscription is included in PAGE membership dues. A subscription for others is $10 annually. Periodicals class nonprofit postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One is published quarterly by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. ©Copyright 2022. January / February 2022
Education leaders choose UNG. For more than 140 years, the University of North Georgia has been developing education leaders who are highly sought after for their skills and experience. Our innovative graduate degrees and endorsement programs help educators advance their education and their careers.
Melissa Silva ‘19 UNG graduate and Fulbright scholar now teaching in Hall County Schools.
Learn More UNG.EDU/COLLEGE-OF-EDUCATION Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS
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