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COEHS Scholarships for 2017-2018 School Year

Last year (2016-2017), the COEHS awarded over $40,000 in scholarships. This year there are even more scholarships available!

Scholarships are available to all undergraduate and graduate students in the Dewar College of Education and Human Services, including Adult and Career Education, Middle Grades Education, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Psychology, and Social Work majors. Additionally, there are scholarships based on county of residence, future career path, volunteer experience, and financial need. The scholarships can cover tuition, related expenses, service opportunities, and even classroom materials!

One common application is used so students can apply to one or multiple scholarships all at once. There are 18 scholarship opportunities but students simply have to submit one application.

Note: The submitted application must have all of the areas completed (career goals, financial need, and service) even if a specific scholarship criteria does not call for one of these categories. Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the scholarship committee for consideration.  

The application deadline for scholarships to be awarded for the 2017-2018 academic year is February 15th, 2017.

Click here for list of available scholarships and their criteria

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Sonya Sanderson Named Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Valdosta State University’s Dr. Sonya Sanderson is the recipient of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s 2016 College/University Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award. The 2016 College/University Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award honors her commitment to teaching, scholarship, professional contributions, service, student advisement, and mentoring.

Sanderson joined the Blazer Nation family in 2005. She currently serves the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education as interim head, an associate professor, a student advisor, and coordinator of the undergraduate program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Education, with a major in health and physical education. She earned VSU’s coveted Faculty Excellence in Advising Award in 2014.

“I was excited just to be nominated for this award, but to win it is truly a special honor,” she said. “The Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance has an impressive membership of exceptional college and university health and physical education faculty who motivate and inspire me. I feel honored to be named Physical Education Teacher of the Year and to be able to influence the next generation of teachers studying at Valdosta State.”

“… Sonya knows the skills and knowledge that are necessary to pass along to her students so they can be successful in their professional careers,” shared Brian Devore, president of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. “One of Sonya’s best skills as a teacher is the relationship she builds with her students in the classroom and within the profession. She displays a belief in each student that they can be successful without sacrificing high expectations. I have seen firsthand the light in students’ eyes when Sonya encourages them to achieve a goal.”


The Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Inc. is a nonprofit organization for professionals and students dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Georgians. It supports and promotes effective educational practices, quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment in the areas of health, physical education, recreation, dance, and related fields.

Source: http://www.valdosta.edu/about/news/releases/2016/12/sonya-sanderson-named-physical-education-teacher-of-the-year.php


1st Annual Southeast District Physical Education Workshop

The Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (GAHPERD) in collaboration with Coastal Plains Regional Educational Service Agency (CPRESA) presents the 1st Annual Southeast District Physical Education Workshop on Tuesday, May 3rd from 8:00am-4:00pm in the PE Complex at Valdosta State University (VSU). On-site registration will begin at 7:15am in the main lobby of the PE Complex. At 7:45-7:55am, GAHPERD, CPRESA, and VSU will welcome participants on the main floor of the PE Complex. Registration fee is $25.00 which includes a one-year membership to GAHPERD, a catered lunch by VSU catering, and an opportunity to receive 1 PLU. On-Line registration ends April 26th, 2016. Topics will include activities for large classes with little to no equipment, edTPA for mentors, curriculum development, and new and exciting activities to use in your gymnasiums and/or outside. Interested individuals should register on the CPRESA website: http://www.ciclt.net/sn/resa/recl_application.aspx?ClientCode=cpresa&CL_ID=166077

US Games (Michele Throm) will be on-site for participants who need to order any physical education equipment. Bottled water ($1.00) and light snacks ($.50-$1.00) will be sold in between sessions for those who need refreshments before or after lunch. Also, GAHPERD and Share the Wealth will have t-shirts for sale.
For those who will submit for a PLU: they will be credited within three weeks (by May 24) to those who complete a summary/reflection within the time limit of one week following the event. The evaluation/reflection will not take a lot of time, but it will provide evidence of how the participants plan to implement the professional learning.

Other vital information (hotels, directions, parking, etc.) can be found at: http://www.gahperd.org/southeast-district-workshop.html

As the program and other information is updated it will be added to the GAHPERD website.

Contact Dr. Sonya Sanderson if you have any questions: slsanderson@valdosta.edu or 229-333-7170.

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VSU Uses Online Competency-Based Education (CBE) Program to Develop Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Teachers

Source: Jessica Pope’s News Article from VSU Newsroom, April 4, 2016: http://www.valdosta.edu/about/news/releases/2016/04/vsu-uses-online-cbe-program-to-develop-elementary-stem-teachers.php

Valdosta State University has stepped outside the traditional college experience box to answer the United States of America’s call to help cultivate and nurture elementary, middle, and high school teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

At the start of the spring semester, VSU kicked off its first online competency-based education (CBE) initiative by offering 10 elementary school teachers from the Valdosta City School System and Lowndes County School System an innovative way to add a science endorsement to their professional credentials. With this pilot endeavor, the university established itself as a leader in the field of higher education, one committed to ensuring the nation’s future economic prosperity by doing its part to increase student success in the STEM fields.

“VSU is the first, and currently the only, university in Georgia offering competency-based education programming online,” said Dr. Anthony J. Scheffler, interim associate vice president of the Division of Academic Affairs and a professor in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services. “In order for VSU to fulfill its mission by providing postsecondary educational opportunities in its region and beyond, the university is committed to the ongoing exploration and implementation of innovative teaching and learning models.”

An alternative to the traditional college learning experience, competency-based education works by identifying the key skills, abilities, and knowledge required for a specific endorsement, certificate, or degree and distributes them across different lessons and subjects, with the intention of providing students the best learning experience possible. Students learn at their own pace, mastering one competency at a time and progressing based on their true understanding of the material. There are no strict deadlines and no schedules. Once a student demonstrates complete mastery of all of the required competencies, they earn their desired academic credentials and enter the workforce equipped with the skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen career field.

“From a teaching perspective, we have seen both benefits and challenges in the implementation of the competency-based education initiative,” said Dr. Sheryl B. Dasinger, CBE success coach at VSU.

“Students work through online resources and demonstrate their knowledge and skills through formative and mastery assessments. Because the students must master each and every competency — there is no averaging of grades — we feel confident that the students who complete this endorsement have the knowledge and skills to make an impact on the children they teach. This benefit can generalize to any academic program in any college — feeling that your students are not just skating by with Cs but really know the material.

“One of the challenges for us has been keeping up with providing feedback and grading assignments. Because the students are working at their own pace, they are all in different modules. This means that they are submitting assignments every day that need to be reviewed and graded within a 48-hour time period.”

VSU plans to expand its competency-based education initiative during the 2016-2017 academic year to include interested elementary school teachers who wish to pursue a mathematics endorsement. However, because this is a pilot initiative, space will be limited, as the university works to ensure that all online modules are thoroughly vetted and the necessary support services are available.

“If enough teachers in a school have the science and math endorsements, the school can qualify as a designated STEM School, which has great benefits for children across all grade levels,” Dasinger explained. “Children have made real academic strides in many states, but no state is on track to getting all children the STEM skills they need to succeed in college and careers. Low-income and minority students lag farthest behind. The development of STEM schools is an effort to address this issue.”

In November 2009 President Barack Obama launched Educate to Innovate, an initiative designed “to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade,” according to a White House press release. He also called on the nation to develop, recruit, and retain 100,000 STEM teachers over the next 10 years and asked colleges and universities to graduate an additional one million students with STEM majors.

Competency-based education is not the only platform VSU has identified to accommodate the needs of nontraditional students who are unable to take advantage of the traditional college experience, Scheffler shared. The university is exploring a number of available options, including adaptive learning, which is a computer-based and/or online educational system that modifies the presentation of material in response to student performance; project-based learning, which is a teaching method that allows students to gain knowledge by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge; and alternative credentialing, which is similar to verified certificates earned by students completing work through massive open online course platforms.

Contact Dr. Sheryl B. Dasinger at (229) 245-6424 or sbdasing@valdosta.edu or Dr. Anthony J. Scheffler at (229) 333-5950 or ajscheffler@valdosta.edu to learn more.


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