High school seniors and their teachers are recognized by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Researc

Athens, Ga. — Eighteen Georgia high school seniors were recently recognized as 2006 “Promising Scholars” for their stellar academic records in science and math by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities at the University of Georgia.

Each Promising Scholar received a certificate and a $250 stipend under a grant to CURO from the National Science Foundation. They were invited to campus to spend the day with UGA students who participate in CURO’s Apprentice Program and attend the annual CURO symposium, held in April, which featured more than 100 student presenters from all disciplines.

Some of the seniors were accompanied by their math or science teachers who were also honored by CURO as outstanding teachers. The teachers were invited to a pre-symposium institute to discuss best teaching practices and share perspectives with UGA faculty in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

“We feel that it is critically important that students from Georgia who are excelling in science, math, technology and engineering see that undergraduate research should be on the list of things to look for in their undergraduate experience,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program, which administers CURO. “While we hope these students decide to come to UGA, it is most important that they see what undergraduates can accomplish through working shoulder to shoulder with a research mentor. We are fortunate that the National Science Foundation supported our proposal.”

During the institute, teachers attended a session presented by Wyatt Anderson, genetics professor and former dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, on teaching evolution in the classroom, and visited Marcus Fechheimer’s cellular biology laboratory and Don Potter’s robotics laboratory. Teachers also spent time discussing and writing about their successful practices and the challenges they face in today’s high school classrooms.

“It is hard to describe the feeling of being surrounded by other teachers who love their job and go way beyond the normal to help students learn,” said Paul Awtrey, a biology teacher at Woodland High whose student Allison Bishop was a 2005 Promising Scholar. “Also feedback from the next level, college professors, is a unique opportunity that most teachers do not ever receive. It is refreshing to know what we are doing that is working and what we could still improve on.”

Bishop, now a UGA freshman international business major and a CURO research apprentice, escorted Promising Scholar Dakia McCray around campus. McCray, a senior from Southwest DeKalb High School, attended Bishop’s French class and learned more about Bishop’s UGA experiences.

“I think it is crucial for high school students to see the logistics and some of the nitty gritty of college life from the perspective of an undergrad researcher,” said Bishop, who is currently conducting research on domestic violence and rebellion in Thailand as part of Project Civil Strife, headed by her faculty mentor, Stephen Shellman, assistant professor of international affairs.

Promising Scholar Natasha James was given a tour of campus and attended classes with CURO research apprentice Gabrielle Gay, also a 2005 Promising Scholar. “My experience at UGA is one that I will never forget,” said James, currently a senior at Chamblee Charter High School. “This visit solidified my decision to attend UGA. I was not only impressed by the campus, but also the students. It is one thing to have your high school recognize you for your efforts, but it is totally different to have a college recognize you. It is a really great feeling.”

The 2006 Promising Scholars are:

High School

Brenden Akins
Bainbridge High School

Nancy Bota
Chamblee Charter High School

Leslie Chan
Peachtree Ridge High School

Valentina Guzman
Tucker High School

Erica Holland
Lovejoy High School

Natasha James
Chamblee Charter High School

Suganthi Kandasamy
Oconee County High School

Dakia McCray
Southwest DeKalb High School

Prathyusha Mididoddi
Peachtree Ridge High School

Christian Norton
Clarke Central High School

Cleveland Piggott
Peachtree Ridge High School

Shelina Ramnarine
John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School

Kendrick Treadwell
Stone Mountain
Southwest DeKalb High School

Darryl Tricksey
Southwest DeKalb High School

Paul Whigham
Oconee County High School

Jasmaine Williams
Stockbridge High School

Esther Yang
Peachtree Ridge High School

Leilah Zahedi
Milton High School

The 2006 Outstanding Teachers are:

Name High School

Jermaine Aaron, Southwest DeKalb High School

Paul Awtrey, Woodland High School

Jeff Burmester, Peachtree Ridge High School

Diane Cass, Peachtree Ridge High School

Stanley Grimes, Oconee County High School

Michael Guman, Stockbridge High School

Louise Henn, Lovejoy High School

John Martin, Southwest DeKalb High School

Patricia Mote, Chamblee Charter High School

Cynthia Pousman, John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School

Chandler Touchton, Lowndes High School

Betty Jo Wallace, Oconee County High School

For more information on CURO and its programs, see http://www.uga.edu/honors/curo.