Alum wins teaching grant

ABOVE: Augusta University alum Brooke Byrd (far right) celebrates graduation in May 2015 with (L-R) fellow graduate Ariel Lucas, former Dean of the College of Education Cindi Chance, and fellow graduate Hayley Goolsy.

AUGUSTA, GA – First-year teacher and Augusta University College of Education alum Brooke Byrd (B.A., 2015) recently earned a Georgia Power New Teacher Assistance Grant by excelling in academics and proving successful in the classroom.

Byrd teaches second grade at Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Columbia County. The new grad was among several dozen new public school teachers from across the state who were selected to receive one of the annual $1,000 grants provided by the electrical utility. The awards provide new teachers with much-needed funds to purchase classroom supplies and encourage them to stay in the profession.

“We have to buy most of our supplies ourselves, so this grant is very much appreciated. I’m going to be taking my time to spend it, but I’m definitely going to build up my mentor text library,” Byrd said.

Byrd credits her time at Augusta University and her own grade school education at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School for her success in a classroom of her own.

“Just being fresh out of the College of Education, I brought with me all of the new strategies that we’ve learned. Experienced teachers have great skills and knowledge, and I have a lot to learn from them, too. But there are new techniques and technologies that I bring to the classroom,” she said.

Byrd uses a lot of kinesthetic techniques, such as singing and movement for memorization and dice games for mathematics. She calls it a “whole brain approach.”

Teacher nominations were submitted to Georgia Power by the 20 Georgia public colleges and universities that have schools of education.  To be eligible for a grant, candidates had to be in the top 25 percent of their class, be a first-year teacher employed by a public school in Georgia and demonstrate a high aptitude for teaching.

According to a recent national survey, 9 out of 10 public school teachers report paying for school supplies and instructional materials out of their own pockets. Research has also shown that up to 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years.

Georgia Power has been awarding grants to new teachers since 2004. Candidates for the grants are submitted by the deans of the state’s public teacher colleges. A committee that includes the executive directors of education-related organizations and Georgia Power representatives selects the winners. Two-hundred new-teacher grants have been awarded across the state of Georgia since 2004.

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