ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Education has been recognized by the Georgia School Boards Association for its work in the Partnership for Community Learning Centers initiative with two Clarke County elementary schools.
The Clarke County Board of Education recently presented a GSBA Partnership Commendation in recognition of the college’s support of public education in the community and its dedication to Georgia’s youth.
The two-year-old partnership, the brainchild of Dean Louis Castenell and Clarke County School Superintendent Lewis Holloway, is transforming the two pilot schools — Chase Street and Gaines — into community learning centers that operate on an extended 195-day, year-round academic schedule to better meet student needs.
The UGA-Clarke schools initiative has resulted in a series of innovative programs including:
* A UGA department of language education class, part of both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum toward ESOL endorsement, meets at the largely Hispanic Garnett Ridge community in Athens where UGA students teach English to Clarke school students and their families.
* Gwynn Powell, assistant professor of recreation and leisure studies, and her UGA graduate students are leading an array of after-school and intersession break programs for students in the two elementary schools, which include a line dance program, the teaching of life skills for coping with challenges and computer-based programs designed to teach social and critical thinking skills.
* Pam Taylor, UGA art education professor, and Janna Dresden, Gaines kindergarten
teacher, codirected an art education project centered on a work by UGA art education professor and artist Joseph Norman titled “Target Practice” with the theme communicating in relationships.
Students from pre-K through fourth grade engaged in art activities geared to learning to think before one speaks and exploring the affect of words. Students contributed their work to an art exhibition.
Norman then visited the school and spoke to students about the power of words. The project was extended outside of school to the Lyndon House Art Center to benefit all of the partnership intersession students.
* A program aimed at improving math education, called Support and Ideas for Planning and Sharing in Mathematics Education (SIPS), is offering alternative ways to teach and learn math in grades three through five at Chase Street. UGA graduate students are involved in all aspects of the project, said project codirectors Dorothy White and Paola Stzjain, two UGA mathematics education professors.
* Another initiative also is exploring different ways to teach and learn math in grades one through five. Students are matched with math buddies, which builds on a cooperative learning model that allows for remediation, peer teaching and creative forms of student accountability. Teachers discuss how to maximize planning time, identify grants for enhancing teacher quality, find money for graduate students and substitutes to allow for professional development, and examine beliefs on how learning occurs. The program is directed by Zelha Tunc Pekkan, a UGA doctoral student working with mathematics education professor Denise Mewborn and Bashi Ebron, a fourth-grade teacher at Gaines.
* Michele Lease, assistant professor of educational psychology in the UGA School Psychology Clinic, and Janet Martin, Gaines counselor, are working together to deliver new mental health services in the school including individual therapy, home visits, class observation, conferences with teachers and diagnostic evaluations. Eight kindergarten through fifth-grade students have been seen for a range of issues including anger management, disruptive behavior and peer relationships.
* Deryl Bailey, assistant professor of counseling, and members of his Gentlemen on the Move program in the Clarke County high schools are meeting with male students at Chase and Gaines schools to establish mentoring relationships in an effort to model appropriate behaviors and empower the younger males to strive for excellence in and outside the classroom. Academic tutoring and the establishment of healthy relationships are at the center of this work.
For more information on the UGA-Clarke School Partnership, visit www.clarke.k12.ga.us/ccsduga/.