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High school students learn about teacher education at Future Georgia Educators Day

Future Georgia Educators Day
27 UNG College of Education students helped lead the Future Georgia Educators Day on Oct. 16 at the Convocation Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) welcomed more than 100 high school students from across the state for Future Georgia Educators (FGE) Day on Oct. 16 at the Convocation Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

UNG and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) provided interactive workshops, a college recruitment fair, an FGE Knowledge Bowl competition, lunch in the UNG Dining Hall and a tour of the Dahlonega Campus. Allison Kerley Townsend, the 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year who teaches third grade at Barnwell Elementary in Fulton County, was the keynote speaker at the event.

The event was one of nine that will be held on college campuses across the state during the 2018-19 school year. This is the fourth year of the current format of FGE Day and the third time UNG has hosted. UNG held an FGE Day on the Gainesville Campus during the 2017-18 academic year and the Dahlonega Campus in 2016-17. More than 4,700 students visited events across all campuses in the first three years of FGE Day's current format.

Sydney Bramblett, a senior majoring in early childhood special education from Cumming, Georgia, was one of 27 UNG College of Education students helping lead the event. She is a College of Education Teacher Education Ambassador, and Bramblett would have loved to experience such an introduction to teacher education when she was in high school.

"This would have been so informative to get to see the difference in each college and how they prepare you to be an educator," Bramblett said.

Cindy Sherrill, director of clinical engagement and community partnerships in UNG's Teacher Education Department, organized the event. She was excited to welcome high school students to UNG.

"We want students to become motivated and excited to attend college and to understand the outstanding teacher preparation programs provided by the College of Education at UNG," Sherrill said. "These high school students are the future of teaching, and the UNG College of Education would like to support them in any way we possibly can to understand the benefits of attending college and preparing for a future in education."

Brittney Sikes, a Gilmer High School senior, was at the event with some of her classmates. She appreciated how FGE Day provided a deeper dive than a traditional college fair or what she could learn at her own school.

"You get the chance to meet new people," Sikes said. "And you learn more about the teaching profession."

Ariel Prisco, a Gilmer High freshman, was excited to experience a college campus while learning about teacher education.

"It gives you an idea of what you need to become what you want to be," Prisco said.

Mary Ruth Ray, college services representative and FGE coordinator for PAGE, hopes the day encouraged more high school students to become educators.

"By exposing them to award-winning educators — like the state teacher of the year — and allowing them to participate in interactive workshops about teaching, we hope to inspire them and to begin envisioning what it's like to be on the other side of the teacher's desk, so to speak," Ray said.

Ray said having these events on college campuses is crucial.

"Some of these students may be the first in their family to attend college, and anything we can do to remove barriers and open doors is vitally important," Ray said. "Another advantage of partnering with colleges is that it helps to bring these events to various geographic parts of the state, making them more accessible to high schools that may not be able to travel long distances."

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