MACON – Mercer University's Tift College of Education, in collaboration with the School of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts, hosted nearly a dozen teachers and two dozen students from area middle schools during the month of June in preparation for next fall's first class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows.
The visitors participated in a weeklong robotics workshop, led by engineering professors Dr. Anthony Choi and Dr. Donald Ekong and education professor Dr. Barbara Rascoe, followed by a weeklong STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp, led by associate professor of education Dr. Sharon Augustine and professor of engineering Dr. Philip McCreanor. As part of the camp, Dr. Jane Metty, assistant professor of education, engaged students in an activity to teach the phases of the moon, and Dr. Matt Marone, associate professor of physics, demonstrated a solar telescope and gave a presentation on ancient Chinese technology.
"We had a saying in STEM camp that we wanted students to push themselves to 'their optimal levels of confusion' because that is where innovation and learning happens. Students accomplished this balance by showing a great deal of intellectual curiosity, collaboration and persistence. They were great representatives of what Middle Georgia students can do," said Dr. Augustine, who also serves as Mercer's program director for the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship.
Also this summer, Dr. McCreanor taught a pilot course, called STEM Methods, to three Tift College students.
The goals of these events were to build relationships with the local teachers from Bibb, Dodge, Houston and Monroe counties who will serve as mentors to Mercer's Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows and to pilot the new STEM-based Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) curriculum that will be taught to the Fellows.
Following the events, Dr. Metty met with the mentor teachers to gather feedback on what other types of opportunities might help them prepare for next fall's launch.
The Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship, announced by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in March 2014, is aimed at increasing the supply of outstanding teachers in the STEM fields and changing how they are prepared to teach. Georgia was the fifth state overall to join this growing national initiative.
Last month, Gov. Deal welcomed the first cohorts of Fellows from Columbus State University, Kennesaw State University and Piedmont College to the Georgia State Capitol to announce the launch of their programs this fall. Mercer and Georgia State University will launch next fall.
Mercer, as one of the state's five partner institutions, will offer master's degree candidates a rigorous yearlong teacher preparation experience in local classrooms, similar to a medical school residency. Fellows receive $30,000 stipends in exchange for a commitment to teach in a high-need urban or rural school in Georgia for three years with ongoing mentoring.
Dr. Augustine and Dr. Metty continue to seek opportunities such as this summer's activities to prepare a rich and unique learning environment for the University's incoming Fellows.
"Through a wide range of efforts, including its summer programs, Mercer University has demonstrated its commitment to improving teacher education," Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said. "The Woodrow Wilson Foundation looks forward to its long-term partnership with Mercer and is excited about being part of efforts in Georgia that help improve teacher preparation and ensure that every child in the state has excellent teachers year after year."
For more information on Mercer's Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship program, visit education.mercer.edu/woodrow.
About the Woodrow Wilson Foundation
Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) prepares the nation's best minds to meet its most important challenges, working through education. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society.