Georgia Teacher of the Year to inspire future educators

Hannah Carroll, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

The Berry College chapter of Kappa Delta Pi Chapter, an international honor society in education, is hosting Allison Kerley Townsend, the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year, today. Townsend will speak on her experience as a teacher and the importance of education.

Townsend graduated from Clemson University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE). She is now a third-grade teacher at Barnwell Elementary School in Johns Creek, Ga. In her six-year career, she has taught pre-k, third, fourth and fifth-grade students. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, she is now also a nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

Although the lecture is sponsored by the education honor society and Townsend will be speaking primarily of her career as a teacher, students of all majors are welcome to attend. Students who are undecided are especially encouraged to see if teaching is a potential career for them and to learn more about the education programs at Berry College.

The education program at Berry is not large, but it is highly efficient and prepares its students to enter into the workforce, according to Professor of Teacher Education Mary Clement. Classes are designed to give students the necessary tools that will benefit them as they enter into their careers, including courses in behavior management, applied behavioral analysis and student psychology. These courses allow students to transfer easily into the professional field and attain competitive positions.

“Our students get jobs,” said Clement.

One aspect of education that Berry emphasizes and trains its students well for is teaching in a diverse classroom, according to Clement. Classes have recently been cultivated to better equip future teachers with strategies and methods that apply to various students of various backgrounds, such as students who do not speak English. As they complete the required coursework, students will observe English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to better their understanding of approaches used to help children learn a new language.

Coupled with the required coursework is the extensive field experience Berry College education majors have the opportunity to receive. Students are able to observe classes and, as seniors, spend the full year student teaching. They work closely with a cooperating teacher but still have the chance to create their own lesson plans and employ methods they have learned through their own schooling.

Field experience is an aspect that sophomore ECE major Hallie Marie McErlain has already undergone. A prerequisite to all other education courses is a class that allows students to observe classes taught at the Berry Elementary, explained McErlain. She has also already sat in on ESL classes and was able to learn how to accommodate non-English speaking children early in her preparation to become a teacher.

“It was cool to sit and be able to see other ways how teachers do their jobs,” McErlain said.

Teaching is a necessary occupation that has seen a recent increase in demand, especially for middle and high school, according to Clement. Many benefits come with the career, including health insurance, its compatibility with parenthood and opportunities for salary increases. To be a teacher requires a lot of dedication and coursework, but Clement said it’s all worth it.

“It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love,” Clement said.

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