PAGE One magazine March-April 2019

Page 1

March/April 2019

Taking the Passion for Teaching

educa tion

Beyond the Classroom

commu nity



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March/April 2019

Vol. 40 No. 4



08  Taking the Passion for Teaching Beyond the Classroom 16  Growing Teachers for Georgia: The Garden May Be Your Own Backyard



4  From the President A Digital Pathway to Success for Children of Poverty 5  From the Executive Director Spring Activities Exemplify PAGE Commitment to Public Education and Educators

Legislative Affairs 20  Day on the Hill 2019: Hundreds of Georgia Educators Advocate at the Capitol Professional Learning 22  Educators Create Conditions for SocialEmotional Learning

PAGE Board 29  Seasoned Educator Challenges Students, Inspires Colleagues 29  Byron Teacher Began Association with PAGE as a Student 30  PAGE Officers and Directors

Legal 28  Dealing With a Violent Student: What Are My Rights?

31  Call for Nominations PAGE Foundation 32  Letter to PAGE Foundation Donors and Friends


20 PAGE One Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Our core business is to provide professional learning for educators that will enhance professional competence and confidence, build leadership qualities and lead to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legal services and legislative support.

March/April 2019



Executive Editor Craig Harper

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Megan Willis

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite

Advertising/Sales Sherry Gasaway 770-650-1102, ext.145


From the President

A Digital Pathway to Success for Children of Poverty Dr. Hayward Cordy


f all the jobs that will exist in 2030, 85 percent haven’t even been invented yet, according to a 2017 Institute for the Future report commissioned by Dell Technologies. The institute’s global panel of technology, business and academic experts concluded that, “The pace of change will be so rapid that people will learn ‘in the moment’ using new technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The ability to gain new knowledge will be more valuable than the knowledge itself.” The U.S. Department of Education reports that technology and computing jobs are the No. 1 source of new wages in this country, accounting for 16.3 percent. There are 500,000 computing job openings in every industry across every state, and these openings are expected to grow at twice the rate of all other jobs. Georgia mirrors the national trend. There are more than 19,000 computing job openings in Georgia, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The average salary for such jobs is $85,687, almost double the average salary for other job openings in the state. Those open positions represent $1.7 billion in annual salaries not being earned. As society becomes more technologydependent, future jobs, regardless of their nature, will depend heavily on computer science and digital literacy. The lack of training in computer science is quickly becoming a major societal and economic issue that disproportionately affects children of poverty and underrepresented student populations.


In 2016, only 2,033 Georgia high school students took the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam. Of those students, 468 were female; 122 were Hispanic or Latino; 174 were Black; four were Native American or Alaska Native; and two were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

As jobs become more technology-focused, increased exposure to computer science education can help level the playing field. The development of such skills will ensure that students adapt to and thrive in the changing job market. The National Center for Education Statistics further reports that girls who take AP Computer Science in high school are 10 times more likely to major in computer science in college. Black and Hispanic and Latino students who take AP Computer Science in high school are seven times more likely to major in computer science in college. Georgia is making progress, however. Thanks to work of the Georgia

Department of Education, the Regional Educational Service Agencies and higher education partners, the number of computer science credentialed teachers has increased over 200 percent in the past two years. In our state, the following courses count toward graduation credit: Advanced Placement Computer Science A; Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles; Year 1 IB Computer Science; Year 2 IB Computer Science; Computer Science Principles; Programming, Games, Apps and Society; Web Development; Embedded Computing; and Game Design: Animation and Simulation. As a child of poverty, I never experienced the bright lights and trappings of success that I read about and saw on television, but these images caused me to dream of a brighter future. Most children of poverty today don’t see such a future. Life centers around daily survival, and they often live in communities with limited job opportunities and dilapidated buildings where businesses once stood. As jobs become more technologyfocused, increased exposure to computer science education can help level the playing field. The development of such skills will ensure that students adapt to and thrive in the changing job market. They will be able to build their own futures and contribute to their communities. If we allow students to leave school without being computer literate and without computer science skills, we rob them of n such opportunities.

March/April 2019

From the Executive Director

Spring Activities Exemplify PAGE Commitment to Public Education and Educators Craig Harper


simple turn of the calendar kicks PAGE into a higher gear for public education, educators and students. The beginning of the year signals what seems like a mad rush to the end of the school year. Along the way, PAGE representatives make connections, answer questions and support you and your students from the classroom to the Capitol. Our legislative advocacy team works tirelessly at the Capitol with elected officials and staff from the governor’s office to your local legislative delegation. The PAGE team provides excellent, persistent advocacy to ensure our state government and her agencies that affect education know the concerns and thoughts of membership. That effort is well informed by years of experience, membership surveys and conversations with educators, and the recommendations of our dedicated legislative task force team comprising educators in a variety of roles and experiences from all over Georgia. Along with other PAGE staff, the team provides PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, which makes it as easy as possible for educators to join us in Atlanta to advocate directly with legislators. The team produces near daily reports of activity under the Gold Dome throughout the session. If you aren’t taking advantage of our Capitol Reports, you’re missing out on the best education-related reporting available to you (( These vital reports let you know when critical issues will benefit from your active voice. By the end of the school year, our membership services representatives visit every school in Georgia, making direct connec-

March/April 2019

tions with educators, answering questions and providing support. These tireless educator advocates are the face of PAGE for many of you, and during your career you will see them at new-hire orientations, school meetings, district events and with our attorneys at Code of Ethics presentations. Georgia is a large state with 159 counties, 180plus school districts and more than 2,200 schools. You can imagine the commitment it takes to visit each school in the typical 190 days of the year. Our MSRs enjoy interacting with you and making connections. Those relationships help us understand more completely what educators are experiencing from the coast to the mountains so that we can best advocate for you. A map of our MSR service areas is on our website ( PAGE invests in the future of public education by strengthening the teacher pipeline from start to finish: recruitment, retention and retirement. Our sponsorship of Future Georgia Educators demonstrates our commitment. These high school clubs consist of students who intend or are considering a career in education. Besides classroom support with presentations on educator preparation topics, PAGE sponsors FGE Days on college campuses across Georgia. This year, about 2,000 future educators will visit nine college campuses and about 7,000 high schoolers will have attended an FGE Day in four years. Among the many great benefits of PAGE membership is access to the best group of education attorneys in Georgia. Any one of our seven staff attorneys

can assist you with legal issues. The first half of the year is often spent providing in-person Code of Ethics presentations to educators in districts, schools and colleges. Helping educators understand the full scope of their professional boundaries ensures that you are less likely to make mistakes that can have serious consequences. While Code of Ethics presentations occur throughout the year, the second half of the year more typically turns to answering and supporting members questions about employment, contracts, retirement and other issues. Growing Strong Students and Teachers PAGE strongly believes in encouraging and recognizing learning and academic achievement. The culminating events of our student programs are celebrated from late January through April. The first events are the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades and the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon (high school). With the Academic Bowl, teams of students square off in a quiz bowl format to answer questions based on Georgia’s curriculum standards. Teams compete at the regional and state level, with region winners ultimately vying for the state championship title. The Academic Decathlon features an in-depth curriculum provided each year by the United States Academic Decathlon. Teams compete regionally, then at the state competition. The winning team goes on to represent Georgia at the USAD Nationals Continued on page 7


competition. Much credit goes to coaches, volunteers and host schools that make possible these fun, challenging activities. PAGE and the PAGE Foundation lead the premier student and teacher recognition in Georgia. Begun by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and now in its 61st year, the PAGE STAR Student and STAR Teacher program honors qualifying students from every eligible high school in Georgia. Selection is based on a graduating senior with the highest SAT score and who is in the top 10 percent of his or her class based on GPA. It’s an honor for PAGE to recognize these students, and especially the educator they select as the person who most influenced them during their educational experience. The local, regional and state events offer a prime spotlight on the success of students and educators. We’re proud of the many strong relationships with local and regional event sponsors who are dedicated to supporting these outstanding people. The PAGE Foundation awards numerous scholarships each year to aspiring and experienced educators in recognition of their continued formal professional learning. The scholarships range from dedicated awards for specific areas of study to more general support for seeking advanced degrees. PAGE and the

PAGE Foundation are especially pleased that for the first time the Dr. Allene Magill Scholarship will be awarded in honor of our former executive director. Educators interested in applying for one of the scholarships can find information at Some scholarships garner only a few applicants, so it’s well worth your effort to see if you qualify. If you’d like to support the scholarship fund or any of the student programs, please consider making a donation at Expanding Professional Learning Opportunities PAGE professional learning initiatives are designed to support educators as they transform classrooms and schools into engaging learning communities. PAGE is excited to come alongside teachers who believe that all students can be consistently successful and prepared for their next learning experience in school, college, service or a career. PAGE is a leader in professional learning, and our goal is to continually improve and provide even greater access to professional learning to more educators throughout the state. More than 450 educators from nearly 90 schools, representing almost 30 school districts,

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS LEGAL DEFENSE INC. CONSOLIDATING STATEMENTS OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 2018 UNRESTRICTED NET ASSETS REVENUES, GAINS AND OTHER SUPPORT PAGE CONTRIBUTION FOR LEGAL DEFENSE CLAIMS................................$1,343,500 PAGE CONTRIBUTION FOR LEGAL DEFENSE RESERVE FUND...................... $350,000 INTEREST INCOME................................................................................................. $5,055 TOTAL...............................................................................................................$1,698,555 EXPENSES LEGAL EXPENSES............................................................................................$1,593,242 LICENSE RENEWAL.................................................................................................... $500 TOTAL EXPENSES............................................................................................$1,593,742 INCREASE (DECREASE) IN UNRESTRICTED NET ASSETS............................ $104,813 BEGINNING UNRESTRICTED NET ASSETS..................................................$1,659,064 ENDING UNRESTRICTED NET ASSETS.......................................................$1,763,877

are currently involved in our initiatives, and several of those multi-year efforts are wrapping up in May. The professional learning team has developed new structures which, beginning next school year, will expand opportunities for teacher-leaders, support staff and administrators to customize meaningful work for their students and their colleagues. Our professional learning truly makes a significant difference for students, educators and schools. That statement is more than an opinion: PAGE has validated research that demonstrates the positive outcomes from participating and learning together with us. (See article on page 22.) More information about what will be offered and how to commit to the work will be shared in the coming months. PAGE continues to spearhead an initiative on True Accountability to develop local accountability systems that consider student, parent, educator and community factors beyond standardized assessments. Our committed school district partners began meeting in February to design the framework for this differentiated system. PAGE exists to work with and for educators so that every Georgia student experiences the best learning environment n possible. I’m glad you’re with us.

PAGE Membership Grows to


PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA EDUCATORS LEGAL DEFENSE INC. BALANCE SHEET JUNE 30, 2018 ASSETS CASH, CASH EQUIVALENTS, SHORT-TERM INVESTMENTS AND DOI RESERVE FUND................................................................................................$2,832,882 TOTAL ASSETS.................................................................................................$2,823,882 LIABILITIES & EQUITY LEGAL CLAIMS PAYABLE...................................................................................... $17,918 LEGAL CLAIMS LOSS RESERVE.......................................................................... $993,337 TAXES PAYABLE..................................................................................................... $48,750 TOTAL LIABLITIES............................................................................................$1,060,005 UNRESTRICED NET ASSETS............................................................................$1,763,877 TOTAL LIABLITIES AND NET ASSETS...........................................................$2,823,882

March/April 2019


Taking the Passion for Teaching Beyond the Classroom By Scotty Brewington


mpassioned teachers don’t just teach their students about changes in the world — they inspire others to change it, starting with their own communities. Their classrooms aren’t limited to four walls and their work doesn’t end when class is over. These teachers enlighten us about the needs of others and inspire us to use knowledge and resources to generate positive changes — and to share what we’ve learned. Simply put, teachers often serve as the fabric of their communities, finding innovative ways to bring people together for the common good. This passion for teaching and community can be seen every day in many ways in Georgia: a middle school sci-

ence teacher who has galvanized citizens to feed homeless neighbors every Sunday, an art teacher who inspires her community to protect Georgia’s sea turtles, or a teacher who organizes a school bake sale to help animals displaced by Hurricane Michael. These teachers are living examples of how small acts can engender big changes. They show us all how we can create a more nurturing community; a cleaner environment and ultimately a better world. Learn how six Georgia teachers have taken their passion for teaching far beyond the classroom for the benefit of their communities at large.

Mike Garrison, Warren County Middle School


ast summer, Mike Garrison, a middle school science teacher in Warren County, had an “aha moment” when he walked out of a CVS store and saw a homeless man sitting outside. Garrison ignored the man, but the woman behind him didn’t. “She handed him some cash and stood there for five minutes or so, holding his hand and listening,” said Garrison. “I had a front-row seat to grace that day.” When school started back this fall, a friend shared a Facebook post with Garrison about a local man who was helping to feed the homeless in the Augusta area. Garrison took it as a sign and decided


to get involved. Eventually, he took the reins and formed the group Mission Dawgs Augusta, named after a similar campaign he follows online that supports Atlanta’s homeless. Every Sunday at noon, Mission Dawgs Augusta sets up camp in a parking lot off Green Street and feeds the 40 to 100 local homeless that congregate there. They also hand out blankets, clothes and Blessing Backpacks with survival essentials. In the early days of the program, Garrison borrowed his neighbor’s trailer, loaded up a grill and cooler, and cooked hamburgers and hotdogs with a handful of dedicated volunteers. Today, he has an enclosed trailer and several grills that have been donated

to the group and a self-storage unit where volunteers can drop off blankets, clothing, coats, socks, non-perishable food and other items anytime. Garrison also raises funds through GoFundMe and Facebook, and has even formed a partnership with a local Baptist church. On Super Bowl Sunday, they served the homeless chili and chicken wings. “All of the food and clothes are just a conduit to trying to build relationships,” said Garrison. “The endgame is to get them off the streets and back to being functional members of society. We can give away food and blankets, but at the end of the day — if they can depend on me — maybe I can take it to the next level and help them change their lives.” Just recently, one of Garrison’s patrons was able to get his own apartment. Mike and his group of volunteers

March/April 2019

Education : The Fabr ic of Comm unity

“I am reminded every day that the things I take for granted are not so normal in other people’s worlds.” — Mike Garrison, Warren County Middle School helped him find a bed, desk and couch. “It’s extremely fulfilling to help someone when I know that all they can do is say thank you,” Garrison said. “There aren’t too many strings attached. I have felt more in touch with my faith through hanging out with the homeless than I ever did in a pew. People sometimes say I’m getting hustled and that I’m not making a difference, but by sitting at home and doing nothing, I have a 100 percent chance

March/April 2019

of not making a difference. I’m at least going to try.” Garrison says working with the homeless is always very raw and real. He said he has been kissed, hugged and cussed out all in the same day. “I am reminded every day that the things I take for granted are not so normal in other people’s worlds,” said Garrison. “I would love to take my students downtown to show them the differences in how other folks have it.”

Both of Garrison’s daughters are now in their twenties, but he remembers when his oldest was around 12 years old and wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen. He said he called around, but couldn’t find one that allowed children to volunteer. “Sadly, I dropped the ball back then and missed that chance,” he said. “Now, when people ask if they can bring their kids to volunteer, I say absolutely! No child is too young to serve.” Continued on next page


Beyond the Classroom Angela Spencer, Glyndale Elementary School


ngela Spencer understands the importance of parent involvement. That’s why Spencer, a fifth-grade teacher and team leader at Glyndale Elementary School, a Title 1 school in Brunswick, invites her students’ parents to her math class each week to share what they are learning. Spencer started the math program this year, inviting parents to her classroom once a week to learn math alongside her students. To make time for the class, she gives up her 45-minute lunch break. On Mondays, girls are invited to bring their moms, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. On Thursdays, the boys work alongside their dads, grandfathers, step dads, uncles and even some big brothers. “As an educator, it is very important to me to form a relationship with parents where they can trust what we are doing in the classroom,” said Spencer. “I love teaching students and I run a very strict classroom. We are like a big family, and because I have a positive relationship with parents, we can accomplish a lot in the classroom.” During class, guests and students play math-related games and talk about the lessons being taught that week. Not only does it help build a sense of community around the classroom, but parents also get to observe what their children are learning in class so that they are better equipped to help them with homework at home. “Most of our parents have questions about the math, and some of them are unable to work with their kids at home,” Spencer said. “They need to learn the math strategies so they can help them, but it is also the support of seeing the parents come in and be a part of their students’ lives.” Spencer often administers skills tests, where students try to complete 100 math problems in five minutes. During one class, she challenged the dads in attendance to take the same test alongside the students. As always, she played


“Most of our parents have questions about the math, and some of them are unable to work with their kids at home. They need to learn the math strategies so they can help them, but it is also the support of seeing the parents come in and be a part of their students’ lives.” — Angela Spencer, Glyndale Elementary School

the theme song from "Rocky" to help motivate them. Two of the dads completed all 100 questions before time ran out. Another Thursday, she set up 10 checkerboards in class and asked parents to play with their kids. “There were some parents sitting in front of their child for the first time — fathers who had never played checkers with their sons,” Spencer said. “It was very powerful to witness that.” For Spencer, teaching is an act of love, and her heart is in Brunswick. She was raised there and graduated from high school in the county. Her children were raised in the same district where she teaches now. In addition to the math workshops,

Spencer tries to instill in her students that everywhere they go in life, they should strive to make an impact. For example, when two students in her class were diagnosed with diabetes, she encouraged the entire class to start drinking purified water together everyday to promote healthy habits. She also encourages students to share inspirational thoughts each day. “For me, it’s not about the money. It’s about what I can do to make sure these kids are being impacted while they are in front of me,” Spencer said. “I often tell my students: We can sit here and talk about inspirational quotes all day long, but if we don’t apply them to everyday life, they are just words.”

March/April 2019

Katy King, General Ray Davis Middle School


aty King, a 20-year teaching veteran, has been a teacher at Davis Middle School in Rockdale County since the school opened 13 years ago. A nationally board-certified and highly accomplished visual arts teacher, King’s students have won art competitions at the local, state and national level. She is also the only middle school art teacher in Georgia to have an artist selected to be part of the state Artist in Residency program through the Georgia Depart­ ment of Education. King inspires her students to excel in the art room and to use their art to better the community. Each year, Davis Middle School holds its annual Empty Bowls Dinner, part of a nationwide grassroots effort to end hunger. King introduced the event to Rockdale County, and her students lead it. The dinner includes homemade soups prepared by the school cafeteria chef. Guests are invited to purchase a dinner, which also includes salad, bread and dessert, and take home a ceramic bowl as a souvenir and reminder of those in the community with “empty bowls.” King’s students make and paint the ceramic bowls, which are displayed for purchase at the event, and all proceeds are donated to Rockdale County Emergency Relief to help families in need. “We pick a theme and make 300 to 500 bowls for the event,” said King. “We invite special guests like the Rockdale County DA and the superintendent to come into our art classes and make bowls, too, and then we display them with their names. The children are their art teachers.” The theme for this year’s event, the eighth annual, was “Taste of Africa,” which featured bowls decorated with African designs, masks and animals. King’s students also hold monthly food drives for Rockdale County Emergency Relief and Phoenix Pass, a transitional housing facility for women and children. They have collected peanut butter and jelly, pasta and sauce, and even bags containing socks, bottled water, granola bars, canned meats and more. Recently, they collected Ramen noodles, laundry detergent and paper towels for the Ronald McDonald House in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

March/April 2019

“Art is the key because it opens the door. It gets children out in the real world where they can use their art to make statements about the world,” said King. “If I can open their eyes to how they can help their community – whether it’s helping people with food or conservation – it helps them see things more clearly and they can make a better world for the future.” — Katy King, General Ray Davis Middle School

King sponsors incentives for students and teachers to bring in needed items. Donations are tallied by students, and each month, a winner is announced. “Some teachers get very competitive,” quips King. Incentives have included a pizza party and even a presentation by an animal rescue group. Each year, King organizes an environmentally themed local project for students. They have built, painted and installed nesting boxes for native blue birds all over the school’s campus and worked with the Centers for Disease Control to help capture, band and release local birds to ensure that they are disease free. Another year, King’s classes studied

sea turtles and the issues affecting them in coastal Georgia. They worked with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, learning about the turtles and creating ceramic turtle hatchlings to sell to the community. All proceeds went to benefit the center. “The students recently said that they want to bring that project back,” said King. “We’re making ceramic turtles to send to the center so that they can sell them in the gift shop and keep the funds.” Other projects have focused on honeybees and monarch butterflies. This year’s project — We Give a Hoot — will focus on birds of prey. Students will learn about the hawks and owls indigenous to the area and how they can help protect their habitats. They will also create drawings and paintings of the birds and exhibit them at a local art show. King also organizes a student group to support the South River, the river that surrounds the school. “Art is the key because it opens the door. It gets children out in the real world where they can use their art to make statements about the world,” said King. “If I can open their eyes to how they can help their community — whether it’s helping people with food or conservation — it helps them see things more clearly and they can make a better world for the future.” Continued on next page


Beyond the Classroom Emily Viscaya, Beulah Elementary School


mily Viscaya, a former student of Beulah Elementary School, is now a Dual Language Immersion Spanish teacher at the Douglas County school. In 2008, Beulah was the first public school in Georgia to have a DLI program, and Viscaya played a critical role in getting it off the ground. At Beulah, half of the students are on a monolingual track and the other half are on the dual language immersion track. The DLI program begins in kindergarten and runs through fifth grade. Two teachers administer the first-grade program: Viscaya, who teaches all of the science, math and Spanish language arts in Spanish, and another teacher, who teaches social studies, writing and English language arts in English. “A lot of parents want their kids to become bilingual,” said Viscaya. “By learning a second language, you increase your brain power.” Viscaya, who speaks English as a first language, was born and raised in Douglasville. She discovered her love for language as a teenager going on mission trips abroad with her father, a local minister. As part of her mission to her own students and their parents, Viscaya and her fellow Beulah teachers also have taught free English classes to members of the community for the past 10 years. “We have different levels of classes so that we can split people up based on their ability,” said Viscaya. “We focus on things that help them in their day-to-day lives, like how to get to the post office and how to speak to their children’s teachers at school — civic and social lessons to help parents in our community.” The classes are very popular. When they began in 2008 and were able to provide free childcare with a federal grant, hundreds of parents attended the classes. Now that the grant has ended and there is no longer a childcare option, class sizes have shrunk to 20 to 50 people and run twice a week for two hours throughout the academic year. The program is paid for through school funds for community enrichment, but access to funds varies year to year. “We have also helped run forums to educate parents in the community who are not native English speakers so that they can figure out what is going on at school,” said Viscaya. “As a teacher, I only have students in class for a few hours a day. If we can help parents understand what is going on and how they can help their kids, they want to do it. They want their kids to be successful.” During the summer, Viscaya and the other Beulah teachers form a “traveling library,” where they take books to trailer parks in their district and read to the kids who live there. Viscaya is a host of Latino Mom Breakfasts where she helps to make parents feel comfortable about coming to events at school. The school also hosts an annual Hispanic Heritage Festival, where parents from Spanish-speaking countries make food and decorations from their countries to sell in the cafeteria to raise money for the school. The festival draws hundreds of people from all nationalities to enjoy food, piñatas, salsa dancers and even a mariachi band. “When we get parents involved — and show that we care about their culture and ideas — they are more likely to be active in our community, which makes it a better place for everyone. We want everyone to be productive because it takes all of us. We need every single person to be involved.”


“When we get parents involved — and show that we care about their culture and ideas — they are more likely to be active in our community, which makes it a better place for everyone. We want everyone to be productive because it takes all of us. We need every single person to be involved.” — Emily Viscaya, Beulah Elementary School

March/April 2019

Donny Screws, Dodge County Middle School


onny Screws has dedicated his life to learning and teaching. This year he will celebrate his 40th year teaching earth science at Dodge County Middle School. Screws has also served as an adjunct instructor at Mercer, Georgia College and Perimeter College where he has taught astronomy, biology, environmental sciences, forensics, meteorology and more. As a lifelong resident of Dodge County, conserving the area’s natural resources is important to Screws. He has been active in several local and statewide research projects, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Breeding Bird Atlas, a project designed to gain critical information about the bird populations in Georgia. He participated in that project with his two sons over several years. One of those sons also is a science teacher at Screws’ school. When he’s not teaching, Screws is giving talks to community organizations on

science, nature, birds and conservation or writing a newspaper column about wildlife in middle Georgia, which he has done for more than 20 years. “I have always had a passion for learning, and love to share it,” said Screws. “I want everyone to be knowledgeable about the environment and know how to protect it — not just for us, but for the plants and animals, too. We all drink the same water and breathe the same air.” Screws also helped organize The Dodge Relay for Life for 10 years, which was the largest in the nation in its population bracket. Thousands of people supported the relay, raising hundreds of thousands for cancer research and treatment over the years. Several years ago, he was awarded a BellSouth grant, which he used to build two garden ponds on his school’s campus. Screws went to great lengths to make the ponds as natural as possible, creating a thriving habitat for fish,

frogs and other wildlife that students could observe and study. “I taught students how to test the water there and also in caves and rivers and the importance of that for health and for the environment,” said Screws. “My students did a lot of research. You can teach in the classroom, but seeing it happening right in front of you makes a big impact.” This year, Screws — a former Dodge County Middle School Teacher of the Year and Dodge County Teacher of the Year — plans to retire, but will continue his research and conservation efforts with groups such as the Georgia Ornithological Society and Altamaha Riverkeepers. “First, I’m going to sleep for two years. Then I plan to be more active and involved in more research,” said Screws. “I also play drums and sing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the Georgia MidLife Chryslers. We’re already booked through next year.” Continued on page 15

“I have always had a passion for learning and love to share it. I want everyone to be knowledgeable about the environment and know how to protect it — not just for us, but for the plants and animals, too. We all drink the same water and breathe the same air.” — Donny Screws, Dodge County Middle School

March/April 2019


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Bama By Distance

Beyond the Classroom Betsy Proffitt, Eastside High School


etsy Proffitt is a product of Newton County. She “Students see that we only have one earth and that graduated from Newton High School, has lived in the community we live in needs to be mindful of that. the community her entire The more they know, the more they can educate the married life, and has taught physical science there for the community as well.” past 25 years. Proffitt’s love of her — Betsy Proffitt, Eastside High School hometown — and love of science — has served as an inspiration for her to contribute to efforts to preserve the drop off paper to be shredded. another one this spring. beauty of the area. Last October, in the aftermath of After a beloved biology teacher Of late, she has led groups of stuHurricane Michael, Proffitt’s students at Eastside died of cancer in 2017, dents to help preserve and clean up the held a bake sale at school to collect Proffitt and her students pushed to community through programs such as money to house animals displaced by have a memorial butterfly garden Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful’s the storm. Around Earth Day, students created in the courtyard outside the Rivers Alive, a river cleanup event held a community yard sale on camclassroom window where he taught. designed to bring awareness to water pus where they recycled some of their Students planted butterfly bushes and pollution and prevention. For years, belongings by selling items to fellow a weeping willow tree. A swing set and she also has had students clean up students. The sale was so successful bench also were donated. trash and debris on the trail that conthat plans are already underway for “All of this increases awareness of nects the high school to the things beyond individuals, public library. Once a year, which is so cool,” said Proffitt. students also clean trash out “Students see that we only of the creek that runs close to have one Earth and that the the trail, restoring water syscommunity we live in needs tem function and preserving to be mindful of that. The the local ecosystem. more they know, the more Two years ago, Proffitt they can educate the commustarted the Eco Eagles club nity as well.” for high school students Last year, Proffitt’s stuwith a heart for preserving dents watched the movie and protecting the Earth and "Cowspiracy," which talks the resources it provides. about the food industry and The club, which has around the impact cattle have on 60 members, began by startthe planet. Students brought ing a recycling program at organic snacks to the viewthe school. ing and discussed the issues “The students saw all brought up in the film. of the paper that we were “It was an eye opener that throwing away as a school led some students to think and understood that the twice about what they are eatworld is bigger than just ing,” Proffitt said. “I am lucky themselves,” said Proffitt. to have some very passionate Once a week, students colkids who are very open and lect paper and used inkjet willing to learn the impact we cartridges throughout the have on the earth. In doing building and have them recythat, they see how it can cled. They recently partnered impact others, too. They are with a local bank to collect going home and talking about their used cartridges as well it with their parents and othand helped host a shred day, ers in our community and n where community members increasing awareness.”

March/April 2019


Growing Teachers for Georgia:

The Garden May Be Your Own Backyard By Thomas Koballa and Debra Maseko Runge


he dream of schools across Georgia is to hire teachers who are well-prepared, understand the local community and make a long-term commitment to their positions. This dream, however, often is not realized, particularly in our state’s rural schools where teaching positions tend to be harder to fill, and teacher attrition is higher than in non-rural schools. Seeking a long-term solution to recruiting and retaining teachers, several Southeast Georgia school systems have partnered with Georgia Southern University’s College of Education to launch the Homegrown Teacher Workforce Initiative.

grams. Collaboration between pathway educational expenses by living at home. Initiative’s Goal and Process teachers and Georgia Southern College of In the fourth step, students who sucThe initiative’s ultimate goal is to provide Education faculty serves to link the high cessfully complete student teaching in partnering school systems with teachers school pathway experience to university their home school system are interviewed of their dreams. This goal was envisioned teacher preparation classwork and school- for a teaching position. Of course, there as a Five-Step Process shown below. based practicums. Students in their final is no guarantee of employment. However, Collaboration between the school systems year of university teacher preparation are yearlong student teaching provides for an and the College of Education is a critical invited to student-teach in their home extended interview opportunity for both feature of the process. school systems, and yearlong student the student and the school community, The initiative’s starting point is to teaching constitutes the third step of the according to superintendents and prinprovide positive and professionally initiative. Students will begin this expericipals. The initiative’s final step involves focused learning to high school students ence with new teacher orientation and Georgia Southern’s College of Education interested in a career in teaching. This is pre-planning, just like a first-year teacher, faculty working with teacher preparabeing accomplished through the Georgia and will be sustained throughout the year tion program graduates to support their Department of Education’s Teaching as by college faculty supervision and mencareer development. This is achieved by a Profession Pathway (TAPP). Teachers, toring. Yearlong student teaching enables augmenting the school system’s teacher school leaders and university faculty are students to engage with the community as induction efforts. All engaged in the iniworking together to strengthen TAPP working professionals and develop as ear- tiative agree that faculty participation in programs and to start new programs in ly-career teachers, while possibly reducing teacher induction helps align the underhigh schools where they do standings developed through Five-Step Process not exist. This is currently teacher preparation with the where most of the effort is school system’s expectations for Step 1. Starting and Supporting Teaching as a Profession Pathway Programs being directed in the Fiveearly-career teachers. Step Process. However, over Step 2. Recruiting Students to Georgia Southern's time, greater attention will be Initiative Enablers Teacher Education Programs focused on the four succesIn 2016, conversations about the sive steps. five steps began to focus on the Step 3. Facilitating Student's Yearlong Student Teaching in Their Home School Systems In the initiative’s second mutual benefits of the initiative to step, students completparticipating school systems and Step 4. Interviewing Students for Jobs in Their ing the TAPP program in the College of Education. They Home Shcools Systems participating schools are engaged superintendents and other recruited to enroll in Georgia central office leaders, school prinStep 5. Providing Collaborative Induction Support to Graduates in Their Home School Systems Southern’s undergraduate cipals and teachers, and members teacher preparation proof the college faculty. Points of 16  PAGE ONE

March/April 2019

strong agreement included the need to strengthen existing Teaching as a Profession Pathway programs, starting new TAPP programs and allowing university students to return to their home school systems for student teaching. In addition, it was decided that ongoing dialog between college faculty and pathway program teachers, along with seed funding to support initiative activities, were critical for success. College faculty members were enthusiastic about working as school system liaisons in support of the initiative. Many already had a connection with one or more of the participating school systems. For example, one faculty member who agreed to participate as a liaison regularly supervises student teachers in the system’s high schools and leads professional development sessions for the science teachers. Two other faculty liaisons reside within the geographical boundaries of participating school systems. Both used to teach and have children attending schools in the systems where they serve as liaisons. Seed funding for the initiative’s activities came from the college and were directed to First District RESA, which served as the fiscal agent for the initiative. Seed funds were used to support a host of initiative-related activities. The supported activities included the purchase of instructional materials for pathway classes, summer workshops for pathway teachers and college faculty, and atten-

teachers eagerly participated in summer workshops in 2017 and 2018 to enhance their preparedness to teach the two pathway courses and supervise students engaged in the pathway’s field-based learning opportunities. While these overall successes are impressive, early successes of the initiative, as well as unique challenges, are best revealed through reports of activities in some of the partnering school systems.

dance of pathway high school students at the PAGE-sponsored Future Georgia Educators Day at Georgia Southern. Early Successes Thirteen school systems are involved in the initiative (see next page) and significant early successes have been realized. Teaching as a Profession Pathway programs were started in two school systems, programs were strengthened in others and plans for starting programs were discussed in others. Interest in teaching as a career increased among high school students in the participating school systems, as witnessed by 309 students attending the PAGE Future Georgia Educators Day at Georgia Southern University in September 2018. And, pathway program

Wayne County Schools — At the start of the initiative, Teaching as a Profession pathway courses were not offered at Wayne County High School in Jesup. Yet the significance of the pathway as the first step in growing the next generation of teachers for Wayne County Schools was fully recognized by Superintendent Jay Brinson. Through a series of meetings that included the superintendent, high school and school system leaders, as well as College of Education faculty and dean, a plan was developed to implement the pathway courses at Wayne County High School. College of Education faculty liaison, and former Wayne County instructional coach, Julie Garlen, Ed.D., presented the plan to the board in fall of 2016. Garlen’s connection to the Wayne County Schools community and her expertise in teacher preparation, coupled with strong support from the superintendent, led to the board’s approval. The plan included authorization to conduct an internal search for a pathway teacher. In spring of 2017, Jade Brown was selected as the school’s pathway teacher. To prepare for this new assignment, Brown participated in a summer Teaching as a Profession professional development workshop on the Georgia Southern campus and focused work sessions led by Wayne County school system leaders. The pathway courses are now attracting many students interested in pursuing careers in education and, with school system support, the students have participated in Future Georgia Educators Day at Georgia Southern. Through the pathway courses and related Continued on page 18

March/April 2019


Participating School Systems, School System Lead and Faculty Liaisons School Systems

School System Lead

Faculty Liaison

Bryan County

Brad Anderson

Kelly Brooksher

Bulloch County

Kelly Spence

Marlynn Griffin

Candler County

CaDeisha Cooper

Kathleen Tootle and Kathleen Fabrikant

Effingham County

Susan Hartzog

Lacey Huffling

Evans County

Betty Whitaker

Michelle Reidel

Glynn County

Pam Griner

Tom Koballa

Screven County

Wynn Pollock

Michelle Reidel

Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (partnership of Montgomery, Toombs and Treutlen Counties, and Vidalia City)

Sabrina Campbell

Eric Landers

Tattnall County

Gina Williams

Robert Lake

Wayne County

Amy Denty

Julie Garlen

experiences, the students are learning the basics of the education profession and about college undergraduate programs in education that will prepare them for careers in Wayne County Schools. Screven County Schools — Superintendent William Bland wanted Screven County Schools to be a partner in the Homegrown Teacher Initiative as soon as he heard about it. However, Screven County High School was involved in a pathway initiative of its own: one focusing on Early Child Care and Education. The goal of the Georgia Department of Education’s Early Child Care and Education pathway is to ready students to enter technical college programs that prepare employees for the early child care and education industry. Intent on growing K-12 teachers for Screven County Schools, Bland thought 18  PAGE ONE

it might be possible to shift the focus of the high school’s pathway program from Early Child Care and Education to Teaching as a Profession. However, after discussions involving the high school leadership, the College of Education faculty liaison and pathway teacher Wynn Pollock, it was decided to retain the program already in place. The high school’s Early Child Care and Education pathway program had gained much interest among students and enrollment was growing. A shift would not allow the school to continue to benefit from a federal grant that supports high school vocational education programming. While a Teaching as Profession Pathway program was not started at Screven County High School, homegrowing teachers remains a school system commitment. Collaboration between Pollock and the College of Education faculty liaison Michelle Reidel, Ph.D., has enabled students to participate in PAGE Future Georgia Educators Days at Georgia Southern and encouraged faculty involvement in Georgia Future Educators Signing Day at Screven County High School. Their collaboration also led to Georgia Southern teacher candidates visiting Screven County High School to talk with pathway program students about teaching in kindergarten through fifth grade. Effingham County Schools — There was an existing Teaching as a Profession

Pathway program operating at Effingham County High School at the start of the initiative. So, the Effingham County team, led by Executive Director of Human Resources Susan Hartzog and faculty liaison Lacey Huffling, Ph.D., conducted monthly brainstorming sessions to determine how to strengthen the program. One action emerging from the sessions was to develop an application process for admission to the program’s internship course. Mirrored after the application process used by the high school’s health sciences pathway program, having students apply for the internship course served to increase the TAPP program’s prestige. The team also decided to develop descriptions of the pathways within the Education and Training Career Cluster, clearly distinguishing between the Teaching as a Profession Pathway and Early Childhood Care and Education Pathway. The descriptions were shared with guidance counselors and parents and used in presentations to eighth graders from local middle schools to recruit them into the high school’s TAPP program. To further promote interest in the program, the team designed and had printed Teaching as a Profession T-shirts to give to pathway teachers and students. The school’s “Promoting Education Day” provided the teachers with a special occasion to wear the T-shirts and talk to students about why they became teachers. In the aftermath of these efforts, 60 students from Effingham County’s two high schools visited Georgia Southern’s College of Education to learn more about the March/April 2019

initiative the increase in student interest in teaching, launch of the TAPP program at Metter High School, and student requests about Dual Enrollment at Georgia Southern University.

university’s teacher preparation programs. Students participated in mock classes, heard from a student panel about their college experiences and joined a campus tour. And, Effingham County High School students who chose to major in education at Georgia Southern connected with a familiar mentor in faculty liaison Lacey Huffling, Ph.D. Welcome outcomes of the Effingham County team’s work included strong participation in the school system’s Educator Signing Day and a one-day professional development Teaching as a Profession teacher workshop. The workshop was offered for the first time in June 2017 to 18 teachers representing six Southeast Georgia county school systems. Led by highly successful Teaching as a Profession teachers and College of Education faculty, the workshop provided Southeast Georgia TAPP teachers with the instructional tools, curriculum materials and support to be successful. Candler County Schools — The initiative served to bring together key school system and university stakeholders to discuss how to generate student interest in a TAPP program at Metter High School and establish a teacher pipeline for the rural community. Meetings organized by Superintendent Bubba Longgrear and Assistant Superintendent CaDeisha Cooper and involving the high school principal, guidance counselors and university liaison Kathleen Tootle resulted in the construction of a survey to gauge student interest in teaching as a career. The survey was administered to more than 100 high school freshman, with responses helping to identify those students ready for membership in the March/April 2019

school’s first Teaching as a Profession program cohort. With the decision made to launch the first cohort, the stakeholders group worked with liaison Kathleen Tootle, M.Ed., to identify a program teacher and leverage seed funding to purchase textbooks and other curriculum materials. Tootle, and later liaison Kathleen Fabrikant, Ed.D., worked closely with the teacher to implement the program curriculum and provide extended learning opportunities for students, including Future Georgia Educators Day at Georgia Southern and field trips to the University campus to learn about courses and student teaching from education majors and faculty. School system leaders identified as early evidence of success of the

Conclusion Qualified teachers with ties to their communities is a real need in rural Georgia — a need which the Homegrown Initiative is addressing. The Georgia Southern University model is unique and won’t work for all, but key to its accomplishments is the university’s longterm commitment to the success of area school systems. The initiative’s accomplishments also can be attributed to the enthusiasm and commitment of faculty liaisons, their connection to the schools and their close work with school system leaders. Initiative activities yielded positive results with increased student interest in teaching, growing student participation in Teaching as a Profession Pathway programs, and summer workshops for TAPP teachers. The initiative is off to a great start, the seeds have been planted and rural Georgia will soon be the beneficiary of more highly qualified, n homegrown teachers. Authors: Thomas Koballa, Jr. is dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern University. Debra Maseko Runge is a graduate student in the College of Education’s Counselor Education program at Georgia Southern University.


Day on the Hill 2019

Hundreds of Georgia Educators Advocate at the Capitol By Josh Stephens, PAGE Legislative Affairs Specialist


n Feb. 19, more than 200 Georgia public school educators, administrators and student ambassadors gathered beneath the Gold Dome to listen, learn and, most importantly, advocate during Day on the Hill 2019. PAGE, along with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL) and the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teachers of Education (GACTE), sponsored the event. Many education-related committees in the Georgia General Assembly have new leaders during the 2019 legislative session. As a result, PAGE welcomed new House Education Chair Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper); new Senate Education and Youth Chair P. K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville); and new House Retirement Chair Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), to speak to attendees on issues important to them. Rep. Jasperse reminded attendees of the importance of forming personal relationships with their local senators and representatives in order to advocate for public education. He asked educators to invite legislators into schools so they are able to understand the challenges and hard work done by educators and support staff on a daily basis. Sen. Martin also encouraged educators to form a direct line of communication with legislators. Further, he stressed the importance of recognizing mental health challenges that hamper the ability of students to learn. Martin sponsored Senate Bill 48 requiring Dyslexia screening of students beginning in first grade. (The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 20.) Rep. Benton spoke on House Bill 109, which makes significant changes to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) for educators hired after July 1, 2019. Benton received many questions from attendees about the bill. Specifically, several students from colleges for teachers of edu-


cation questioned the impact of the bill on their future career as an educator. Following the morning session, educators crossed the street to the State Capitol to begin the advocacy component of the day: one-on-one dialogue with legislators at the velvet ropes. Educators advocated for issues such as the protection of TRS and against school vouchers before returning to the Sloppy Floyd building for a lunch buffet. State Superintendent Richard Woods, in delivering the luncheon keynote address, highlighted the upward mobility of Georgia public education as evidenced by the state’s increased graduation rate and the success of career, agricultural and technical education programs. Afterwards, educators were able to see committee process in action as House Bill 109 (the TRS bill) and House Bill 301, a bill creating a new school voucher program, were heard in committee. PAGE Executive Director Craig Harper delivered comments on behalf of educators during the TRS hearing, while Director of Legislative Services Margaret Ciccarelli advocated against the school voucher bill. Save the date of Feb. 18, 2020, to join PAGE at the Capitol next year for another n great day of advocacy!

March/April 2019

Photos By Chris Savas and Lynn Varner

March/April 2019


Professional Learning

Educators Create Conditions for Social-Emotional Learning By David W. Reynolds, PAGE Professional Learning


ocial-emotional learning (SEL) is a hot topic. An online search for related news articles generates over 42 million results, and booksellers have over 2,000 titles connected to the subject. Clearly, social-emotional learning is of interest to many people, not just educators. What is social-emotional learning? According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, SEL is comprised of five core competencies which, when appropriately leveraged, help students successfully navigate their educational experience. In short, SEL is all “about how teaching and learning happens,” states CASEL.¹ SEL also is inextricably linked to school safety. The August-September 2018 issue of PAGE One magazine addresses this topic. A comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe involves a thorough review of discipline policies, emergency preparedness, facility considerations,

coordinated communication among multiple stakeholders and strategies to meet student social-emotional needs. Moreover, creating conditions that foster empathy, healthy self-awareness, responsibility, solid decision making and strong relationships correlate with positive school climates and improved academic support.², ³

school. PAGE has been studying engagement and how the capacity to design meaningful learning experiences for students parallels a school’s emphasis on collaboration and trust. PAGE professional learning initiatives are designed around these same ideas, and participants report that maintaining a focus on engaging both adults and students in authentic Relationships Matter work is highly beneficial. A high school Thoughtful and caring educators know teacher in PAGE’s South Georgia School that students need to feel secure at school. District Network describes it this way: Attending to the fiscal, physical, and proce- The network “has helped the whole dural aspects of school safety impacts how school climate. … We’re getting to know students feel in their classrooms and on each other better. … Just having that time their campuses. But an additional prong of with administrators and getting together support makes the most of a student’s time as a group, a diverse group … and bringat school: relationships. Teachers, coaches, ing that back to the school, it has changed counselors and other school personnel so many things!” have observed firsthand the benefits that According to focus-group participants grow out of truly knowing their students in five schools in the South Georgia netand their students’ families. work, PAGE professional learning experiGood relationships are a prerequisite ences have led to greater collaboration for the creation of an engagement-centric between administrators and teachers, and it has helped them build relationships with students. It also enables them to better contend with issues related to poverty. “Knowing one’s students and their Those findings dovetail nicely families gives an educator great insight, with the stated aims and benefits of an SEL framework. enabling the teacher to truly design PAGE research also supinstruction that caters to each student’s ports the correlation between its professional learning and needs. Having a relationship with educator practices in the student families further reinforces classroom. An analysis of 2016-2017 PAGE professional trust that the educator will share learning experiences found helpful information about the student and that the that South Georgia network participants have built supportinformation will be received well. When all of the ive relationships with students pieces are in place and operating smoothly, authentic and their families to maximize academic success. Students in learning will occur — and with it, the byproduct of the network echoed this findincreased student achievement.” ing. Of students surveyed, 62 percent reported that their — Joy Robinson, Fourth Grade Teacher, teachers provided them with Lake Park Elementary School (Lowndes) multiple opportunities to learn challenging academic content.


March/April 2019

“Teachers must be appropriately authentic and transparent with their students. Students want to know that their teachers are not just robots with academic agendas. I position students so they can see literacy connected to who they are. I want my students to understand that experiences influence how they see, read and write their worlds. Everyone comes to my classroom with different experiences, and I want all students to believe that their voices should be heard and valued. This type of learning begins with authenticity.” — Dr. Kim Foster, English Language Arts and Teaching as a Profession Teacher, Cartersville High School

More than 70 percent reported “often” (vs. sometimes or rarely) when asked if they were supported by their teachers.⁴ The research also shows that beyond the individual participants in the network, their schools overall were more focused on designing engaging work for students. When students were asked whether their assigned schoolwork was interesting, had value, and/or made them curious, they responded affirmatively. Furthermore, focus group, interview and survey data confirmed that network participants embrace the central themes of PAGE professional learning. These educatorleaders are taking the initiative to apply new learning in their classrooms, doing so early in the multi-year network and continuing to do so as their professional learning experiences unfold. SEL Engenders Engagement Today, PAGE professional learning has an even clearer picture of the extent to which it supports teachers and students. Teams of educators participating in PAGE professional learning initiatives often work in schools that exemplify the kind of places where students can thrive socially, emotionally and academically. When schools are characterized by trust, collaboration and meaningful teacher/student and educator/educator relationships, such SEL groundwork engenders engagement. That, in turn, gives rise to more learning, which leads to student success. This premise is borne out in PAGE’s latest research⁵, which demonstrates that schools with little evidence of socialemotional characteristics, specifically as March/April 2019

related to trust, collaboration and relationships, also fail to produce much evidence of engagement. (Note: Engagement tends to be pervasive when the school’s stated purpose is tied to providing meaningful work — and students are aware of that fact — and when teachers are viewed as leaders and as designers of work that matters to students.) However, the relationship between social-emotional characteristics and engagement is not always perfectly matched. PAGE found, for example, that student responses to questions about the difficulty of their school work, when compared to how those same students viewed their interest in the work, highlighted an interesting disconnect. Students said that work that could be easily completed (which some people might interpret as academic success) did not necessarily align with the students’ desire to complete it. In other words, if the work does not appeal to the student, even if he or she can earn adequate or high marks on the work, the student will not be engaged in that work. Therefore, even when trust, collaboration and important relationships drive a school’s culture, if the work is too easy, engagement will not flourish. It is for this reason that PAGE professional learning experiences are designed with a focus on engagement — what engagement is, what it is not and how to create the conditions for engagement to embed into the fabric of a school. What about Poverty? Can all schools, serving a wide range of students, in very different communities

and contexts, create the conditions for SEL? That question is best answered with another question: Can a teacher, regardless of the students he or she is entrusted to lead, ingrain practices and habits into classroom procedures — and into teaching and learning exchanges — that establish trust, mutual respect and personal responsibility as the bedrock principles of the classroom? If the answer is “yes,” then the answer to the poverty question is to reframe it by addressing your students’ interests and thinking about how each student best demonstrates his or her learning. These considerations cut across age levels, geography, and socio-economic status. Indeed, PAGE research found that there was no direct or linear relationship between poverty and engagement in the schools studied. What mattered most, when examining a school’s SEL atmosphere, was leadership, demonstrated through team-generated policy decisions. Policy decisions, whether outlined in school improvement plans or carried out in the daily functions of the school, are a barometer of a school’s focus (i.e., compliance or engagement). Likewise, when top administrators are the only real decision-makers, teacher-leaders (who have their finger on the pulse of student learning every day) miss opportunities to contribute their expertise and help transform the school into a thriving learning community. District office personnel and site-based administrators who encourage teacher input, and who value student voice, are best poised to create the socialContinued on page 25 PAGE ONE  23


Certified Educator Job Fair Who Should Attend? • Certified educators • Those eligible for teaching certification for the 2019-20 school year

What to Expect: • Information about South Metro Suburban Region & Schools

What to bring with you: • At least 15 copies of a onepage resume to provide system human resources and school reps

• Meet staff and representatives from eight (8) South Metro Suburban Region & School systems representing 125+ schools and more than 100,000 students

Saturday, April 27, 2019 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Luella High School 603 Walker Drive, Locust Grove, GA 30248 Pre-registration is not required For more information contact Griffin RESA at 770-229-3247 or visit Representatives from the Griffin RESA TAPP (Teacher Alternative Preparation Programs) will also be on hand to answer questions for eligible participants. To check eligibilty requirements, please visit and click on “GaTAPP” and then click on “Information Brochure.”

“Teachers who build the best relationships have students who are the most engaged. Stated another way, teachers who value their students and create memorable experiences often create productive relationships that engage their students.” — Samuel Clemons, Jr., Assistant Principal, Pine Grove Middle School (Lowndes)

emotional conditions for engagement, and thus learning. An elementary school teacher in the South Georgia School District Network summed it up this way: “It’s so crazy because we know what squelches innovation as teachers, we know what squelches interest and creativity, but policymakers continue to squelch [innovation and creativity] when they dictate every[thing]. I believe in structure and I believe in flexibility, but I believe there’s something called structured flexibility.” How then, do we best support public

school students so that they are prepared for a future in a world of uncertainty? We create trusting, collaborative environments where teachers and other school leaders design intellectually stimulating learning experiences for all students. And as a requisite for success, meaningful teacher-student relationships must be fostered to develop positive social-emotional characteristics to undergird a school’s capacity for engagement. Social-emotional conditions for learning matter. Students matter. Leadership n and policy matter. Teachers matter.

Footnotes: 1. 2. meta-analysis-child-development-1.pdf 3 3. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1): 405–432. 4. 5.

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We offer blended programs in: • Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.) • Middle Grades Education (M.Ed.) • Special Education (M.Ed. and Ed.S.) We have now revised our admission criteria to 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).

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March/April 2019 PAGE ONE  25


Dealing With a Violent Student: What Are My Rights? By Jill Hay, PAGE Director of Legal Services


nfortunately, the PAGE Legal Department receives many calls from educators who are struggling to deal with violent students in their classrooms. In these cases, it is important to understand the laws and how the rules influence educator rights. However, as one considers these code sections, it is imperative to remember that special education students may not be subject to these guidelines if their behavior is a manifestation of their disability, as they have protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This article is not intended to delve into student rights under the IDEA. Discipline of Students Committing Acts of Physical Violence This law requires that local boards of education adopt student codes of conduct that provide for penalties to be assessed against a student found by a disciplinary hearing officer, panel or tribunal to have committed any act of physical violence against a school employee. The code section defines the term physical violence to mean “(1) Intentionally making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or (2) Intentionally making physical contact which causes physical harm to another unless such physical contacts or physical harms were in defense of himself or herself.”¹ Any student alleged to have committed an act of physical violence as defined under this code section shall be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. Occasionally, a teacher is injured by a student who is fighting with another student or acting out in some other manner. This code section does not apply if the contact is unintentional. The code further states that any student found at the disciplinary hearing to have committed an act of physical violence as defined in number (2) above shall be expelled from the public school system; however, the local school board at its discretion may permit the student to attend an alternative education program. If the local


board does not operate an alternative education program for students in Kindergarten through grade six, the local board at its discretion may permit the student to reenroll in the public school system. These students who commit physical violence as defined in number (2) shall also be referred to juvenile court with a request for a petition alleging delinquent behavior. Any student found at the disciplinary hearing to have committed an act of physical violence as defined in number (1) above may be disciplined by expulsion, long-term suspension, or short-term suspension.

such student’s behavior endangers the physical safety of other students or school personnel.” Once a multitiered system of supports has been afforded, the school will have met the requirements of this law and can impose expulsion or suspension for more than five days. In addition, this law also requires that prior to assigning any special education student in preschool through third grade to out-of-school suspension for more than five consecutive or cumulative days, they must convene an IEP meeting to review appropriate supports being provided.

Reports to Law Enforcement Georgia Code § 20-2-756 grants permission for the school administration, disciplinary hearing officer or local board of education to report to local law enforcement any alleged criminal action by a student to determine if criminal charges or delinquent proceedings should be initiated. No individual reporting under this code section shall be subject to any action for malicious prosecution. Although this code section does not address the teachers’ rights and protections with regard to reporting to local law enforcement, it is our opinion that a teacher has every right to make that report if the school administration does not agree to do it. In these cases, we suggest that the teacher consider the student’s age and have a conversation with the administration prior to making the report, in an effort to understand all possible implications.

Days Missed Due to an Assault Oftentimes an educator who is injured by a student must miss days from work. In such cases, the law states that a teacher shall not be charged with sick leave for an absence due to an injury caused by a physical assault while the teacher was engaged in the performance of his or her duties for up to the first seven days. [O.C.G.A. § 20-2-850 (a)(2).] In other words, the teacher shall be given full pay for the first seven days without a deduction from his/ her accumulated sick days. If a teacher is accidentally injured by a student and it is not an intentional physical assault by the student, then this code section does not apply and sick days may be taken.

Multitiered Support for PreK - 3 On July 1, 2018, a new Georgia law that applies to preschool through third-grade students went into effect. Pursuant to Georgia Code § 20-2-742, “[n]o student in public preschool through third grade shall be expelled or suspended from school for more than five consecutive or cumulative days during a school year without first receiving a multitiered system of supports such as response to intervention, unless such student possessed a weapon, illegal drugs, or other dangerous instrument or

Charter & SWSS Districts Finally, it is important to note that all Georgia school districts (other than two) are now Charter Districts or Strategic Waiver School Systems (SWSS). Charter Districts have a blanket waiver of all the code sections under Title 20 (The Education Laws) and SWSS Districts have the ability to waive or obtain flexibility from any code sections they specify in their contracts with the state. With that said, the above-mentioned laws may not apply in your district. It is best to check with the PAGE Legal Department with n any questions. 1. O.C.G.A. §20-2-751.6(a) March/April 2019

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PAGE Board Welcomes Shannon Watkins, Ed.D. Seasoned Educator Challenges Students, Inspires Colleagues


ew PAGE board member Shannon Watkins, Ed.D., prompts her science students and even her colleagues at North Paulding High School to think hard about real-world issues. “All of my classes are rigorous and challenging, and I try to set the example so that other teachers who come into my classroom are inspired to lead their students to higher academic achievement,” Watkins tells PAGE One. “I try to bring real-world problems into my classroom and share these ideas in professional learning groups with other teachers. I use argument-driven inquiry, collaborative reasoning, and other literacy and learning strategies that have been proven effective in the classroom.” Watkins’ influence also reaches far beyond her district. As a presenter last fall at the STEM/STEAM forum at the University of Georgia, she shared with fellow science teachers how she uses technology and project-based learning in her

classrooms. For example, she showed the audience how she uses cute, devicecontrolled Sphero robots to simulate how a virus can spread with and without vaccines and how to use the robots in physics for motion experiments. She also spoke about cell organelle, evolution, and genetics projects that she has developed for her students. Technology is an important part of science instruction, Watkins stresses. “Science teachers must be comfortable with technology and learning how to use technology, which can be difficult. Students are more motivated when teachers use technology in the classroom.” Described as friendly, laid back and insatiably curious, the 20-plus-year educator is also a mentoring devotee — a passion that led her to pursue a doctorate in organiza-

tional leadership a few years ago. Her aim is to build confidence in fellow educators, especially newer teachers, and to be a listening ear and give encouragement so they will stay in the profession for decades hence. She also provides mentees with ideas for lessons, learning strategies, literacy strategies “and anything else they might need to do a great job as a teacher.” Watkins, who has served as a PAGE building representative, says she is honored “to support PAGE in all that they do” — including its advocacy regarding teacher retirement benefits, salaries, mandatory testing and other critical challenges facing Georgia educators. When not in the classroom, Watkins enjoys cooking, reading and crafts – especially when she can escape to the mounn tains with her family.

PAGE Board Welcomes TaKera Harris Byron Teacher Began Association with PAGE as a Student


AGE welcomes TaKera Harris, a second-grade teacher at Byron Elementary School (Peach County), to its board of directors. Harris is a long-time member of PAGE. She began her involvement with the association as a student at Macon State College. Since then, she has earned a masters of education in media at the University of West Georgia. She pursued double concentrations in instructional technology and school library media. “Technology comes easy to me, and I love the challenge of trying out new things and putting them to use in my classroom practices,” Harris tells PAGE One. She regularly uses an interactive Promethean board for whole-class

instructions, participation and demonstration, and students use the board to model to classmates how to solve challenges. “This year is my first year back in second grade, which gives me many opportunities to incorporate more technology,” says Harris, who taught kindergarten in recent years. “I also use Google Classroom with my second graders, but in order to make it more successful, we need Chromebooks,” she adds. Harris also is an advocate of using data to provide insight and drive instruction. In addition to using it for standardized assessment, she uses it daily to inform her teaching. As to what makes a great teacher, Harris says that collaboration is a key.

“Through constant collaboration with fellow educators, I have learned that there is always something we all can offer each other and that change is okay. When we fail to learn from one another, our students suffer. We are all unique and possess a very specific set of skills.” In her role as a PAGE board member, Harris hopes to help the organization advocate to give teachers more time to actually teach. “Our students are suffering due to lack of time to master a skill. We teach something for one or two weeks, and they are expected to master it; however, they often aren’t given time to master the subject matter before moving on to the next grade,” she laments. She also believes that Georgia teachers need more support. As to her off time, it’s devoted to her family. “My daughter is my life. Ninety percent of what I do is for her, with her or n to support her.”

— Meg Thornton March/April 2019


2018-2019 PAGE Officers & Board of Directors

Dr. Hayward Cordy President

Kelli De Guire Past President

Megan King Secretary

Nick Zomer


Lamar Scott Treasurer

Jamilya Mayo District 3

Jennie M. Persinger District 9






Lance James District 7


Dr. Shannon Watkins District 5








10th Mc

Khrista Henry District 10









Rochelle Lofstrand District 4 (Atlanta City, DeKalb)





13th mery




1st Evans



Dr. Oatanisha Dawson District 1

Dr. Susan Mullins District 6



ino le

Lindsey Martin District 8


TaKera Harris District 12

Dr. Sandra Owens District 11

Brecca Pope District 2

Daerzio Harris District 13

Vickie Hammond Retired Members

Stephanie Davis Howard Retired Members

Call for Nomination of PAGE Officers & Directors PAGE, a democratically run association, encourages members to participate in the election of its officers and directors. Positions are elected by majority vote at the annual PAGE online business meeting in May. The president-elect, secretary and treasurer are elected for one-year terms. Directors serve for three-year terms (on a staggered basis). Only active PAGE members in good standing are eligible to be officers and directors. Directors must have their place of business / office in the district in which they serve.

Nominees are sought for the following positions:

Nomination deadline: April 30, 2019.


Incumbent: Nick Zomer, Cherokee County


Incumbent: Megan King, Houston County


Incumbent: Lamar Scott, Elbert County District 1 Director Incumbent: Dr. Oatanisha Dawson (Term expires 6/30/2019) District 2 Director Incumbent: Brecca Pope (Term expires 6/30/2019)

District 3 Director

Incumbent: Jamilya M. Mayo (Term expires 6/30/2019)

District 4 Director

Incumbent: Rochelle Lofstrand (Term expires 6/30/2019)

Submit nominations for officers and directors no later than April 30, 2019, via email with the subject line “PAGE Nomination� to (or via U.S. mail to: Craig Harper, PAGE Executive Director, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA, 31141). Please include a brief outline of nominee qualifications.

Letter to PAGE Foundation Donors and Friends Ann Stucke, PAGE Foundation President Dear PAGE Foundation Donors and Friends, The Professional Association of Georgia Educators appreciates the trust you place in our organization through your continued support. Your gifts and your belief in the power of education are profoundly affecting the lives of students and educators across Georgia. •  You have helped PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon champions travel to the National Academic Decathlon Competition and earn prestigious awards to bring back to Georgia. •  PAGE STAR Students and their PAGE STAR Teachers are earning recognition in their communities and on the state level for their superlative academic achievements. •  Administrators and teachers throughout the state are building strong networks centered around maximizing student engagement, and they are sharing what they’ve learned across districts. All of this is possible because you care about excellence in learning, teaching and leadership. We have the honor of working with outstanding educators and students because of you — our association members, individual donors, corporate and charitable foundations. Through your philanthropy, you are working for the common good of all children. We thank you and are humbled by your support as we continue to serve the Georgia students and educators. The Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the PAGE Foundation make learning opportunities available through PAGE Foundation Scholarships, Future Georgia Educators, the PAGE Student and Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades and the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon. Additionally, the PAGE Professional Learning Department supports aspiring and current Georgia educators through PAGE’s career-spanning professional learning opportunities. Please visit for more information on all these PAGE initiatives.

OFFICERS President: Dr. Hayward Cordy President-Elect: Nick Zomer Treasurer Lamar Scott Past President: Kelli De Guire Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Dr. Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Jennie Persinger District 3 District 10 Jamilya M. Mayo Khrista Henry District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Dr. Shannon Watkins TaKera Harris District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins Daerzio Harris District 7 Lance James DIRECTORS REPRESENTING RETIRED MEMBERS Vickie Hammond Stephanie Davis Howard


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. Contact the editor: Meg Thornton,; PAGE One, PAGE, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions by federal law. Costs for PAGE lobbying on behalf of members are not deductible. PAGE estimates that 7 percent of the nondeductible portion of your 2019-20 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One (ISSN 1523-6188) 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 five times a year (January, March, May, August and October) by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30350; 770-650-1102. Copyright ©2019 .

March/April 2019


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