by Claire Miller
On any given weekday, Georgia State University’s downtown Atlanta campus is bustling with students, faculty and staff as they go about their daily business – attending classes, writing lesson plans, contributing to the daily function of the university.
But drive about 40 miles east of the city, and you’ll come across a smaller campus on a bucolic street in Covington, Ga. This is the home of Georgia Perimeter College’s Newton County campus, where a small cohort of 12 students worked just as hard as their metro-Atlanta counterparts to earn their teaching degrees.
These students are the first cohort to go through the GSU@GPC-Newton Program, an early childhood education program offered by Georgia State University’s College of Education at Georgia Perimeter’s Newton campus. The program’s classes, field experiences and admission and degree requirements are identical to those on the GSU Atlanta campus. Students must have completed their core classes, maintained a 2.75 grade-point average, and been admitted to GSU prior to being accepted into the College of Education B.S.Ed. program in Early Childhood Education.
The program, which began as a Board of Regents initiative to bring together a four-year university with a two-year college, has created a successful partnership between Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter that has expanded the COE’s early childhood education program to reach more students in Georgia, according to Lynne Q. Jordan, GSU@GPC-Newton program coordinator.
“This is an untapped region for us – an area where someone needed to provide this opportunity,” Jordan said. “I believe that offering courses at GPC-Newton allows potential candidates the opportunity to become teachers in a setting that is closer to home and includes field placements in local schools. These candidates, although prepared to teach in any urban or rural setting, are invested in this community and surrounding area.”
Such was the case for Michelle Mullis, who had been taking classes at the Newton campus for a year before she began the early childhood education program. Her familiarity with the campus and her peers made the transition to the ECE program an easy one.
“Initially, I was planning to attend GSU downtown to get my early childhood education degree,” she explained. “Then I learned that Georgia State was bringing the ECE program to the Newton campus, and I was so surprised and thrilled to be able to complete my degree in a place that was familiar and felt comfortable to me. I was also excited to be able to continue my degree with friends that I had met in my classes at GPC.”
Mullis and her peers in the program have become a close-knit group in the time they’ve spent teaching and learning together, and their hard work paid off this month, when they become the first students to graduate from the program.
“I have really enjoyed being in Newton County for my classes and some of my internships,” Mullis said. “I have made new friends from both my classes and internships, and I have really enjoyed getting to know the teachers and students at the various schools. I feel that the program has really prepared me for my own classroom, and I can’t wait to start my teaching career.”
For more information about the GSU@GPC-Newton Program, visit http://education.gsu.edu/ece/4712.html.