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Thomas University Division of Education faculty and students who presented at the recent Georgia PSC Teacher Leadership Summit include (from left) Dr. Susan Lynn, Dr. Patrice Jones, Dr. Gale Neal, Sarah Waugh, Dr. Dan Lane, Shelly Sheets, Randy Sellars and Dr. Jay Fowler.


TU faculty, graduate students make presentation at Georgia PSC Teacher Leadership Summit

A group of Thomas University faculty members and graduate students recently presented at a state conference about the importance of teacher leaders in today’s K-12 schools.

Presented by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the Teacher Leader Summit was held Sept. 28-29 at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria.  The purpose of the Teacher Leadership Summit was to continue a state-wide discussion around how the role of teacher leadership can be advanced in today’s schools.

Typical formal teacher leadership roles found in many schools of today include positions such as grade-level team leader, department chair, curriculum developer and instructional coach.  However, the reality is that all teachers are leaders when they step into their classroom, so cultivating and expanding the leadership capabilities of all classroom teachers is an integral step in creating and sustaining a positive school culture that supports all children.

The TU presentation at the Teacher Leader Summit focused on TU’s graduate degrees (M.Ed. and Ed.S.) in Teacher Leadership. These degrees are for current K-12 teachers who want to advance their career as a school leader while keeping one foot firmly planted inside (or very near) the classroom. 

TU began offering the Teacher Leadership degree program fall semester 2014.  It is offered on TU’s Forbes Campus in Thomasville, at multiple satellite locations throughout the state and – as of this fall – online in a synchronous format.

According to Dr. Susan Lynn, Chair of the Division of Education, “One of the strengths of the TU Teacher Leadership program is that it continues to be co-developed and delivered by full-time faculty and K-12 school building administrators, teacher leaders and district administrators from around the state of Georgia.  The team works together using a course lead model to ensure the rigor and relevance of the program content and to facilitate continuous program improvement.”

“We are advancing the work of teacher leadership in Georgia, and it’s exciting, meaningful work,” Lynn continued. “At this summit, our K-12 school partners and our students spoke persuasively about the role that teacher leaders play in helping school leadership build their capacity to increase student achievement. These individuals comprehend the need to expand leadership roles based on the understanding that teachers, because they have daily contacts with learners, are in the best position to make critical decisions about curriculum and instruction.”

The TU team’s thoughtful comments and insights exposed the caliber of the TU faculty and students. As a result, the presenters received many positive comments about our program. Some summit participants referred to TU as “the best kept secret in Georgia.”

“We’re working on changing that as we continue to market our program throughout the state,” said Dr. Gale Neal, who serves as the Division of Education’s Graduate Program Coordinator. “Our Teacher Leadership program enrollment has grown to over 150 students representing 20 Georgia school districts.”

The group representing TU at the summit included adjunct faculty members Dr. Jay Fowler, principal of Rocky Creek Elementary School in Hampton; Dr. Patrice Jones, principal of Powers Ferry Elementary School in Marietta; and Dr. Daniel Lane, principal of Fayette County High School in Fayetteville. Presenters also included TU students in the Education Specialist Degree in Teacher Leadership program: Randy Sellars, a mathematics teacher at Tift County High School in Tifton; Shelly Sheets, an eighth grade English and Language Arts teacher and department chair at Union Grove Middle School in McDonough; and Sarah Waugh, an Interrelated Special Education teacher at Rocky Creek Elementary School in Hampton. Also presenting were Dr. Susan Lynn, Chair of the Division of Education at TU, and Dr. Gale Neal, Assistant Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator in the Division of Education at TU.

Education that Engages... Empowers... TRANSFORMS

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