education major Jessica Richardson proves popular with
students at Houston County's Miller Elementary School.
Education majors get field experience in school classrooms
throughout their time in the program, leading up to
full-time student teaching during their last semester. (Photo:
Bachelor of Science
in Early Childhood Education
off to Strong Start
By Sheron Smith
For 22-year-old Brandi Thompson of
Macon, working in an after-school program demonstrated that she
really had a way with children.
Barbara Baldtree, 40, of Byron had
noticed over the years that no matter what sort of job she held, she
was good at teaching co-workers how to do things, whether it was
operating the photocopier or wiring an alarm system.
And Debra Brown, “let's just say
I'm well over 25,” of Forsyth, wanted to finish college and begin a
new career after raising three daughters.
The reasons the three women from
very different backgrounds chose to become schoolteachers may vary,
but their paths converged this fall when they became part of the
64-member charter class pursuing bachelor's degrees in early
childhood education from Macon State College.
That number is significantly higher
than what College officials were expecting when they announced the
development of the bachelor's degree early this year. They set a
goal of admitting 50 students into the charter class, only to be
nearly overwhelmed by the number of applicants to the brand new
“Since Macon State is an important
part of the University System's effort to produce quality new
teachers for the state's school systems, we were excited about the
enthusiastic response to the new degree program,” said Dr. Martha L.
Venn, chair of Macon State's new Division of Education. “Not only
did we have a number of applications from people ready for
upper-division coursework, but there are many more freshman and
sophomores who say they plan to major in education.”
Like most everything else
associated with the education degree program, Venn is new to Macon
State. When she came on board last July, she assumed the lead in
shaping the curriculum, hiring faculty members for the new division
and selecting the charter class members, all of whom had to have at
least an overall 2.5 GPA in their freshman and sophomore classes and
be ready for junior-level coursework to even apply.
“I get jazzed about new challenges,
so this was a perfect opportunity for me,” said Venn, whose
most recent position was as chair of the special education
department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “It's
not often that you get a chance in higher education to create a new
program from scratch, and that helped us attract some well-qualified
and creative faculty for the education division.”
Treisch, 25, enrolled in Macon State's bachelor of science
in early childhood education after completing service in the
Marine Corps. Here, he gets to know some kindergarten
students at Bibb County's Morgan Elementary School. (Photo:
In January 2005, the University
System of Georgia's Board of Regents authorized Macon State to
develop an early childhood bachelor's degree as part of a major
initiative to help increase the number of Georgia schoolteachers.
The state could face serious shortages of teachers in the coming
years if the University System does not boost the number of
program, offered on both the Macon and Warner Robins campuses, is
innovative because it will enable students to earn dual
certification in early childhood education and special education.
The program will
emphasize methods of diagnosing the learning needs of individual
students and tailoring instruction toward those needs, giving
teachers additional skills to reach the diverse learners in
Georgia's elementary schools. Graduates may apply for both early
childhood certification and special education certification, a move
that would greatly enhance their job marketability.
“Macon State will be
producing some of the most well-rounded teachers in the state,” Venn
said. “They will have the skills and knowledge to reach children who
fall anywhere on the learning continuum.”
As was expected with an early
childhood major, most members of Macon State's charter education
class are women. But there are some men in the initial group, and
the education division plans to target males - and minorities - in
upcoming recruitment efforts. Charter class students range in age
from early 20s to 50s. Most are from Bibb, Houston, Jones and Monroe
Many of the students
of traditional college age planned to major in education all along
and are delighted they won't have to transfer to complete the
degree. And many of the older students were not in a position to
commute to other institutions.
“Macon State is close
to home, so I can remain available to my family,” said Ruth Ann
Worley Ryals, 45, of Warner Robins. “It was through my own children
that I found my passion for teaching. The Macon State
program is like an answer to a prayer.”
Meet the Education Division Faculty
Macon State College has assembled a well-qualified and
enthusiastic faculty for the new Division of Education. Shown in the
photo from top to bottom are:
• Dr. W. Allen Richman, Assistant Professor of Education; B.A.,
University of Texas at Austin; M.A., Ph.D., University of Kansas
• Dr. Kathy L. Stanley, Assistant Professor of Education; B.S.,
University of South Alabama; M.Ed., Georgia College & State
University; Ed. S., Ed. D., University of Georgia
• Loleta D. Sartin, Assistant Professor of Education; B.A.,
Southern University at New Orleans; M.Ed., Drury University; ABD,
Saint Louis University
• Dr. Laila J. Richman, Assistant Professor of Education; B.S.,
M.S.Ed., Ph.D., University of Kansas
• Durrett Childs-Wills, Assistant Professor of Education; B. S.,
M.Ed., Valdosta State University
• Dr. Martha L. Venn, Professor of Education and Chair of the
Division of Education; B.S., Western Illinois University; M. Ed.,
University of Kentucky; Ph.D., University of Illinois
|Macon State education faculty members
Loleta D. Sartin, left, and Dr. Laila J. Richman, share a
light moment with two of their students after a seminar.
(Photo: Nick Oza)
|Ruth Ann Worley Ryals is one of several
Macon State education majors who began field experiences at
Houston County's Miller Elementary School this fall.
Education majors have also been placed at schools in Bibb
and Monroe counties. (Photo: Danny Gilleland)
They Said It
Here's what some members of the charter class have to say about
Macon State's bachelor's degree in early childhood education and
their goals to become schoolteachers in Central Georgia:
“The instructors are awesome. It's their first year in the
program, too, so we are all in this together.” - Donna Moore
Shepard, 21, of Forsyth.
“I love working with children. As a teacher, I want to help
children reach their potential.” - Lara Christine McKay, 22, of
“I've known since I was five that I wanted to be a teacher. I'm
excited to be able to get my teaching degree at Macon State
College.” - Natalie Masey, 21, of Jenkinsburg.
“Almost every job I've ever had has been working with children.
Nothing brings me more happiness.” - Lolita Moore, 23, of Monroe
“I have met some really nice people (in the degree program) that
I see myself being friends with for life. All of my professors are
great, and the classes are enjoyable.” - Hayley Register, 23, of
“Macon State is offering a wonderful chance for teachers to earn
dual certification in regular education and special education. It
will help us in our work with children in the regular classroom with
special needs, and it will make us more marketable when it comes
time to look for a job.” - Sandra Lynn Pacchioli of Jackson.
“I want to pursue an education degree because I feel there is a
need for men to be elementary schoolteachers. A lot of kids nowadays
need good male role models.” - Christopher Ford, 21, of Warner
“It is very important to me that I complete the education program
at Macon State. I have enjoyed my experience at MSC so far, and I
really appreciate all of my professors. They are friendly, helpful
and experienced. -- Jessica D. Richardson of Kathleen.
“I love kids, and I think as a teacher you can be more creative
at the elementary school level. I want to make the learning
experience enjoyable for students.” - Justin Treisch, 25, of Macon.
Learn more about
the B.S. in early childhood education at
http://www.maconstate.edu/education/ or call (478) 471-2800.
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