June 21, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
On a recent June morning, 12-year-old Tralik Cofield sat in a GSU classroom intensely designing his dream home.
As he sketched out the rooms he wanted, the Austin Road Middle School student was clearly having fun imagining a place all his own. At the same time though, Tralik was learning important math skills, such as how to calculate area and perimeter.
Even more impressive, this creative lesson with real world application was developed by a group of high school students, who are getting their first taste of teaching this month.
"It's been really cool to prepare a lesson and present it to students," said Whitney Sweet, 17, a rising senior at Roswell High School who wants to be a teacher. "It's like the real thing."
Sweet is one of 52 high school students at Georgia State University through Friday (June 27), enrolled in the Academy for Future Teachers.
Now in its fifth year, the academy is a three-week, math and science-based program for rising high school juniors and seniors from Atlanta Public Schools and other metro school systems.
Hosted by the College of Education, the academy is intended to attract talented high school students to the teaching profession and provide them with professional and academic preparation. Students work on creative teaching projects, allowing them to see the relevance of math and science and think of innovative ways to teach in the future.
"We're trying to take high school students interested in becoming teachers and encourage them," said Laurie Forstner, project coordinator for the Academy for Future Teachers at GSU. "It's all about math and science education with an urban focus."
The future teachers are divided into three teams of 20 and spend a full week focusing on a topic, such as secondary science, secondary math and early childhood education. Each team is lead by a GSU or Emory University professor teamed with a public school teacher and supported by a Georgia State student leader.
Every week culminates in a student teaching experience. The future teachers have the opportunity to teach a lesson to pre-schoolers at GSU's Child Development Center and middle school students, who are on campus as part of the After-School All-Stars Atlanta program. The academy students also get to critique and give feedback on a lesson presented by a College of Education graduate student.
"I thought this would be a good experience and it has really broadened my perspective on teaching," said Wadé Ruff, 15, a student at Booker T. Washington High School.
Learning about teaching also extends beyond the classroom in the academy. The future teachers have the opportunity to go to the Tellus Museum of Science in Cartersville, Ga., the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to learn how to plan a class lesson around a field trip.
Funding for the future teacher academy is made possible from a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) grant from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and a grant from the American Honda Foundation.
Academy organizers and past participants agree the three-week program gives high school students a realistic look into the teaching profession.
For instance, Devin Thornton, who is a GSU student leader for the academy this year, spent two summers in the program while in high school and said it helped him select his career path.
"It definitely gave me hands-on experience especially with pre-schoolers and influenced my decision to apply to Georgia State's early childhood education program," he said.