By Kashalah Robinson
AUGUSTA, Ga.—Augusta native Ann Sturkey has spent the last 15 years making a difference in student lives. Working within the community as a teacher and now administrator as the School for Arts-Infused Learning (SAIL) Charter School, she has been named the College of Education’s 2018 Outstanding Young Alumna. Sturkey will be honored during Alumni Weekend.
“It was a great surprise because I teach to inspire students not only academically by personally,” Sturkey said. “Teaching is my passion, and one of my greatest desires is to make a lasting, positive impact either directly or indirectly in the lives of our youth. I also desire to encourage teachers to unlock their creative potential and reach new heights of educational excellence. I am truly humbled to be recognized for this award.”
Sturkey graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga. She later came to Augusta University, where she graduated with her Master of Education; and, most recently, she returned to AU to earn her Education Specialist degree.
“One of the things I loved when going through the courses was the support I received from the professors. Not only did they give me the history, training and pedagogy for teaching, but also best practices when working with students in the classroom,” Sturkey said.
She is currently the director of curriculum and instruction at the SAIL Charter School in Evans, Ga. SAIL is Columbia County’s only charter school, and was founded in August of 2017. Watch an interview about the school that Sturkey did with WJBF.
“While I have had to learn a new position in a new school, it has been an experience that has brought tremendous growth, excitement, and joy,” Sturkey said. “It’s one thing to teach children, but it’s another to able to teach educators strategies and best practices that I did in my classroom to help further enhance what they’re doing in their classroom. To be on the other end, where you can help make decisions and guide teachers by giving them additional tools to add to their toolbox is a rewarding experience.”
Before her work at SAIL, she worked at Martinez Elementary as a fourth grade teacher. She led the student council and participated in the school data and school improvement teams. During her tenure at Martinez Elementary, she was also named a master teacher. In this role, she supervised Augusta University’s student teachers through classroom observations, providing support for student assessment, lesson planning and classroom management.
“We taught together at Martinez Elementary School,” said Dr. Michael Berg, professor of education, and one of the founders of SAIL. “She’s come so far from teaching to being an administrator at SAIL. She not only instills the learning in students, but also in fellow teachers. She’s a true student advocate and teacher leader as well.”
After her work at Martinez Elementary, she was a third and fourth grade teacher at Evans Elementary, where she was also a teacher leader. She was the student council advisor, and on the school improvement team and the technology team. She received several awards during her academic career, including the 2010-2011 Martinez Elementary Teacher of the Year and the 2013-2014 Golden Apple Award.
Dr. Judi Wilson, associate dean for the College of Education, has worked with Sturkey for years. She initially met her through her father, Ronnie Harrison, a former AU professor.
“She emulates her father. She’s a consummate professional. She is professional in every interaction,” Wilson said. “She’s highly dependable and very organized. She’s a visionary with an eye for the future. She’s also not afraid to take a calculated risk. Not just for risk’s sake, but to improve education for the state of Georgia. She’s well respected and has established excellent relationships at the university, within our community, and in our K-12 schools.”
Sturkey has presented at numerous conferences and workshops, including the Impacting Student Learning Conference hosted by the College of Education.
“My favorite presentation has been ‘The Whole Brain Leaning,’” Sturkey said. “I have always been that teacher that has wanted students to be engaged. I never want students to just sit and soak in information, but to be a part of their learning. ‘The Whole Brain” session allowed educators to be a part of that training experience. Participants learned while doing. There is no greater impact than being involved in the learning, and the feedback provided validated that claim.”
Sturkey, along with Outstanding Young Alumni from eight other colleges, will be honored at the Summerville Alumni Awards cocktail reception and banquet on April 27, during Alumni Weekend.