VSU Faculty Elected to Executive Board of Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance

Valdosta State University’s Dr. Eugene Asola and Renee Califf were recently elected to the Executive Board for the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Inc. (GAHPERD). GAHPERD is a nonprofit organization for professionals and students in related fields of health, physical education, recreation, and dance.

Califf, an adjunct professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at VSU, was elected as GAHPERD’s southeast member at large. She will serve a one-year term that began in October 2017. Asola, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at VSU, was elected as GAHPERD’s vice present elect, general division. He will serve as vice president elect for one year and then as vice president the following year. His term began in October 2017.

“Both Dr. Asola and Mrs. Califf are remarkable teachers,” said Dr. Sonya Sanderson, interim head of VSU’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “They will serve our state professional association to the best of their abilities. GAHPERD needs more young professionals like them to serve. This is totally a volunteer service to assist other health, physical education, recreation, and dance teachers in the state. Those who sign up to represent GAHPERD do it for the love of the profession.”

Source: John Stephens, Office of Communication, Valdosta State University


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The Middle and Secondary MAT Program Introduces a Communications Course for Teachers, and It’s Got Some Singing Its Praises

In an effort to improve the instructional skills of its teaching candidates, the Department of Middle, Secondary, Reading, and Deaf Education has introduced MSED 6000:  Written and Verbal Communication for Teachers.  While the course is not required for those seeking certification-only, it is a requisite class for those pursuing the Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

The course emerged as part of the redesign of the MAT program, which occurred in 2014-2015.  The new program of studies was put in place for the January 2016 cohort, and the communications course had its debut during the summer session that same year.

Department chair Dr. Barbara Radcliffe asked for the development of the course after she and several other faculty members had noted issues with the communications skills of the MAT candidates, several of whom were unsuccessful in their student teaching as a result.  “It’s not enough to have the content knowledge,” said Radcliffe.  “The candidates have to be able to communicate it, and that just wasn’t happening in some cases.”

The purpose of the course is to assist teaching candidates in developing those communications skills necessary to successful classroom instruction.  As part of the class, students perform a variety of communicative tasks, including writing emails, memoranda, essays, and short research papers.  Public speaking is heavily emphasized and includes activities like leading class discussions, presenting course material, and giving personal, content-related speeches and educational manifestos.  Listening skills comprise the third dimension of the course, and candidates are expected to be fully engaged, providing written and oral feedback to their colleagues and the course instructor.

Among those who have taken the class, the overwhelming consensus is that the course is both practical and effective:

“I was worried about speaking and presenting in front of my peers.  But, now, I feel my confidence has greatly increased.”

“I am thoroughly enjoying our class because it is so different from anything I have ever experienced.  I am also learning a lot about how to communicate with my peers and future coworkers.”

“The communications class has been an excellent experience.  It has truly expanded my idea of the teaching profession…. I feel as though this class has successfully prepared me to teach with a passion.”

“I believe I have gotten more confident and comfortable in front of this group and will be more comfortable in front of high school students.  I honestly wish the course were a little longer.”

The current environment in secondary education and teacher preparation emphasizes the technical aspects of instruction while largely ignoring the artistic and performing dimensions of the job.  The communications course is helping to fill this breach, encouraging new teachers to find their own voices, take creative risks, and be the best they can be for their students.

YouTube Video of Leigh Anne Rackley Imitating Janis Joplin

By: JT Cox

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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


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