September 22, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Georgia Teacher of the Year Speaks at VSU

VALDOSTA - Emily Jennette, Georgia's 2008 Teacher of the Year, addressed more than 200 Valdosta State University student teachers at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

A former second grade teacher at Saywer Road Elementary School in Marietta, Jennett is now employed by the Georgia Department of Education. She obtained her undergraduate degree in early childhood, elementary and special education from the University of Alabama and her graduate degree in early childhood from Kennesaw State University. A strong advocate for mentoring young teachers, she spoke to VSU student teachers about differential instruction with a presentation titled "Examining What Really Matters: Connecting Content to Kids in Academically Diverse Classrooms."
Student teachers said they found her discussion valuable and her presentation style enjoyable.

"She is very high energy and I think its important to have that kind of passion; it makes all the differences as a teacher," said Rebekah Cash, senior early education major from Leesburg.

Classmate Amanda Murphy, a senior early education major from Moultrie, agreed wholeheartedly. She said Jennette's discussion was valuable to her classmates and her, especially the suggestions on keeping it enjoyable and not monotonous.

"She gave me things that will help me become a better teacher," she said. "I was thinking recently about these very issues and how I would handle them when I became a teacher. All my questions are answered."

Student teachers also took turns in small group sessions for Classroom Organization and Management Program training, provided by Mary Ellen Dallman, Lynn Minor, Stan Andrews and Shirley Andrews. Classroom organization/management is recognized as one of the weakest areas for new teachers, and the session aimed to tailor different options to fit teachers in various instruction areas, including science, math, physical education and more.

Each student was also provided with a complementary copy of "The First Days of School," written by Harry Wong.

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