Three faculty members in the Mary Frances Early College of Education have been accepted into the University of Georgia’s inaugural Rural Engagement Workshop for Academic Faculty, a program designed to help build momentum for high quality, community-engaged research in rural Georgia communities.
The faculty members are Jamon Flowers, clinical assistant professor in the department of lifelong education, administration and policy; Georgia Wood Hodges, associate research scientist and MAT coordinator in the department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education; and Theodore J. Kopcha, associate professor in the department of career and information studies.
Through a series of five virtual sessions, faculty members will gain a greater understanding of Georgia’s rural demographics and trends, obtain key information on developing sustained relationships with communities and enhance their ability to engage in rural research in the state.
“Rural perspectives continue to be overshadowed by their counterparts and absent in academics and policies,” said Flowers. “In addition to elevating the untold stories via research and having a much larger stage in academia and policies, this opportunity will create pathways to create and sustain partnerships between the university and rural communities. In return, rural communities and rural education will receive the attention needed and deserved.”
The workshop series accepts 20 full-time academic faculty from any UGA college or school per year. Participants in the workshop must be nominated by the college’s dean. At the end of the workshop series, 10 proposals will be selected to receive a $5,000 seed grant to pilot a rural engagement research initiative.
“Staffing schools with great science teachers who have access to quality resources is a challenge throughout our state and nation, but it is amplified in rural places,” said Hodges. “This workshop will help me to explore these issues in depth and consider how UGA science teacher preparation could connect with rural communities to address these issues through partnership.”
Flowers’ research interests include educational policy, race and educational leadership, and rural educational leadership. Hodges' research explores the intersection of teachers, students, and gameplay in the classroom. Kopcha’s research focuses broadly on technology integration in K-12 and higher education.