by Sarah Banick
GSU Development and Alumni Affairs
Georgia State University’s Department of Early Childhood Education has chosen the first Birth Through Five (B-5) STAR scholarship recipients and partner centers funded through its B-5 Professional Development Partnership grant.
The Professional Development Partnership grant, which was funded by three local foundations, is in support of improving the quality of early care and education programs in metro Atlanta,” said Assistant Professor Ruth Saxton, grant director and B-5 program coordinator.
Ten local child development centers were chosen to receive training and mentoring over the next two years. In addition, “the scholarship money from the grant has funded five scholarships, and another five to eight scholarship recipients will be recruited in the fall. They will be placed in these professional development partner centers to work with the teachers and the children there, part of this overall plan toward improving the quality of the centers,” Saxton continued.
The partnership is being funded by grants from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Zeist Foundation and the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation. Funding covers the three years of the program activities, and Saxton hopes that it will be extended.
“We hope this program will serve as a model for how to provide long-term professional development and have local centers collaborate in training new generations of quality early childhood professionals,” Saxton said.
The B-5 STAR scholarship recipients earned their associate’s degrees at local two-year technical schools. To earn their bachelor’s degree, they must complete Georgia State coursework while interning at the partner centers. They will work with children from age two through five who are typically developing and those with special needs.
The scholarship provides the STAR interns tuition, fees, textbooks and a laptop. In addition to their bachelor’s degree, program graduates will be recommended for Birth Through Kindergarten licensure and the Endorsement in Pre-School Special Education.
“I used to work with special needs children, and that’s one of the areas I’m looking forward to,” said STAR intern Robyn Watt. She attended Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) and worked hard to keep her grades up to come to Georgia State. That work paid off. “It’s been a great ride,” she said.
STAR intern Kai Palmer (Gwinnett Technical College) (GTC) says she is involved because, “I love children, I love teaching,” adding that the scholarship is important “ . . . because of the guidelines, I’ll keep myself focused.”
The three other STAR interns are Alysia Johnson (GPTC), Ginna Martinez-Junca (GTC) and Katlin Sims (GTC).
“We are here to make you successful,” Interim Dean Paul Alberto told the interns at a Jan. 10 reception. “The whole project is on your shoulders. Be successful and earn those degrees because we need to put people like you in front of children so that you become the model for other programs we can have funded around this country.”
Addressing the center partners, he said, “You are now part of the extended family of the College of Education. Join our faculty in decisions and share knowledge. Starting those little ones, where you have dedicated your life, eventually brings them through their first 12 years of education. We’ll take care of them after that.”
The 10 centers chosen to partner with Georgia State and their locations are:
For more information about the Birth Through Five program, visit http://education.gsu.edu/ece/4554.html.