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The first time that you help foster learning within a student is just awesome

  |   Mallory Thomas   |   Permalink   |   Amazing Students,   Spotlight,   Students and Faculty

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Current employment: I'm a full-time practicum student at Clarke Central High School. At Clarke Central, I teach in the government classroom, mainly with freshmen. We just wrapped up six weeks at Clarke Middle.

Degree objective: Masters of Arts in Teaching (social studies education)

Other degrees: Bachelors in Telecommunications, Ball State University

Expected graduation: May 2019

Why did you choose to come to UGA? My wife and I met at Ball State. She was on the gymnastics team, and I was on the swim team, so we met through that. But actually, her parents live in Buford, Ga. So, after Ball State, she went back home, and I followed shortly thereafter. A couple years later, she got her masters at UGA in the public health department. When I first moved down to Georgia, I was staying in Athens with her for a while, and I just saw UGA, and I was like, "there's a lot of opportunities, it's a huge school, and I just like it down here."

What are some of your university highlights, awards, achievements...? I'm a member of the graduate student of color research mentoring program. It gives students of color, who may need additional assistance, guidance on how to pursue research opportunities if you're a graduate student or on a PhD track. It's really cool because you make a lot of connections and meet people who kind of have similar stories as you do, in terms of educational pathways. It's also a good resource, as it's through the College of Education's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Being a part of a department with so many diverse perspectives and backgrounds has given me some guidance, not only with my masters degree, but also possible Ph.D. opportunities.

I'm currently in my practicum teaching semester, and the first time that you help foster learning within a student is just awesome. That's why I chose education. That's what it's all about. The first time that you can see an "ah-ha" moment is probably the coolest achievement that I've had thus far.

Who is your favorite College of Education professor and why? Can I give you a group of professors?

Dr. Jim Garrett Dr. Sonia Janis Dr. Mardi Schmeichel Dr. Todd Dinkelman

All four of them have been the most impactful professors that I've had. I graduated undergrad in 2012 and joined the education world in 2017 at UGA. So, I've had some time to navigate the real world, but I wasn't really fulfilled in anything until I came to UGA. These professors try to promote education as more of a critical analysis of not just content, but how to be a student and how to be a teacher, rather than just memorizing names and dates. They taught me how you can really build learning and life skills in students rather than just focusing on passing a test. They're all pretty impactful in that way because they have a diverse array of not only college experience, but teaching experience. They then bring that experience and pass it on to students to make sure that our time in the classroom and at UGA is as impactful as possible. I really appreciate everything that they do, because they put a lot of time, effort and energy into making a program so that we can not only succeed now, but also in our teaching practices.

What do you like to do in your free time? I'm married and have a dog named Indiana. We live in Atlanta now, so we go to the parks, try new places to eat, and I'm definitely a movie guy. I'll spend time watching old classic movies, current stuff, anything that really peaks my interest. We like being outdoors, too. We were both athletes so we like staying active.

What would you say is your passion and how are you pursuing it? My passion is connecting with students with more of an urban background, like myself, where educational opportunities are a little bit more challenging. There's definitely a need and an opportunity to reach students like that. I think that post-graduation, I'd like to go in an urban school system to try to change not only students' minds, but the community's mind toward the benefit of getting a good education and the opportunities that it can give you in the future.

Where do you see yourself in the future? My wife is originally from New York City so we were thinking Atlanta and New York depending on where the chips fall. Either one of those locations has a demand for teachers and opportunities for working with some interesting people. I'm leaning more toward middle school so far. The cool thing about teaching middle school social studies is that you can teach economics, geography, civics, all under one umbrella. So, you're getting a combination subject rather than a specific one.

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