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Three faculty members selected as Service-Learning Fellows

This year, the University of Georgia's Office of Service-Learning has selected three faculty members from the College of Education to participate in its yearlong Service-Learning Fellows program. With a total of 19 Fellows, this is the largest group in the program's 10-year history.

The Service-Learning Fellows program provides faculty members from a range of disciplines an opportunity to integrate academic service-learning into their teaching. In addition to receiving an award of up to $2,500, the Fellows will meet regularly throughout the academic year for informative seminars that will help them develop their own proposed service-learning projects.

The three COE faculty members selected as 2015-16 Service-Learning Fellows are:

  • Cheryl Fields-Smith: Fields-Smith, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, will develop a service-learning course in education focused on emancipatory and place-based pedagogy for both UGA students and Athens-area families. As a Service-Learning Fellow, Fields-Smith is eager to see her students interact with children in the Clarke County area. "Finally, I am learning service-learning strategies that ensure rigor in the course that I am developing and creating a space that integrates my practice, service and ultimately, my research," said Fields-Smith.
  • Meg Hines: Hines is a lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology and a professor on special assignment with the Professional Development School District. She is developing a new course for students on creative thinking and creative problem-solving, so they can learn how to teach and implement enriched experiences for H.B. Stroud Elementary School students in north Athens. According to Hines, by weaving in the essential components of critical reflection, students can challenge their assumptions and skills to stretch and grow in both the course material and service implementation. Her research interests include underachievement of creatively gifted students, program design in gifted education and professional development in gifted education.
  • Theodore "T.J." Kopcha: Building upon his prior work as a public service and outreach fellow, Kopcha plans to have his master's students in instructional technology develop and implement materials for hands-on STEM activities for upper elementary students in Hart County. "As a Fellow, I am working directly with students and teachers to connect my work as a scholar with their needs as practitioners and learners," he said. "It's a great opportunity to test my ideas and improve upon them." Kopcha, an assistant professor in the Department of Career and Information Studies, researches technology integration in K-12 education, design-based research and cognitive apprenticeship in teacher education.

Academic service-learning integrates organized service activities into courses as a way to enhance academic content, teach civic responsibility and provide mutual benefit to the community. Since it was established in 2006, nearly 100 faculty members from all 17 schools and colleges at the university have participated in the Service-Learning program.

"As a land-grant institution, we have a responsibility to serve our surrounding community and beyond," said Fields-Smith. "I believe service-learning has the potential to empower participating UGA students and communities, as well as the instructors who engage with them."

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