Augusta University Keeps New Teaching Grads in the Classroom
About 93% of the graduates from the College of Education at Augusta University remain in the profession for at least 5 years or more.
In addition, the College of Education has experienced a 100% job placement rate for its graduates who remained in Georgia since 2014, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
“Looking at those two data points together, we really buck the national trend,” said Judi Wilson, dean of the College of Education at Augusta University. “Here, in the College of Education, we work extremely hard to prepare our students for the classroom. Our students get more field experiences than some programs around the state and certainly many programs around the nation. I think that makes a tremendous difference.”
Education students at Augusta University receive practical, hands-on experience inside local schools so they can properly gauge if they are a good fit for the profession, she said.
“Before students even get into our program, they actually complete 60 hours out in the local schools,” Wilson explained. “We encourage them to work with different grade levels to make sure that they’re comfortable and that they know what they’re getting into as a teacher.”
Beth Murray-Pendergraft, an associate professor in the College of Education and the chair of the Department of Teaching and Leading at Augusta University, believes having the students almost immediately placed within the local schools better prepares them for a career in education.
“They are actually in the schools the second week that they’re in the program with us and it’s important because they don’t need to find out during student teaching that this is not what they want to do,” Pendergraft said. “They need to find out right away. So, we get them into those schools early and often.”
Even after a student graduates and becomes a full-time teacher, that former student knows if he or she needs help or guidance in their classroom, the professors at Augusta University are just a phone call away, Pendergraft said.
“If a student calls us and tells us that they’re struggling, whether it’s something like classroom management or planning curriculum, we’ll send a professor out to help them and we follow up,” she said. “I’ve even gone out and co-taught with a former student who I thought was struggling just to help model what she needed to do.”
The College of Education also has a tremendously close partnership with the surrounding local school systems in order to constantly improve its program, Wilson said.
“Our partner schools are amazing and they provide incredible support,” she said. “I don’t know of another university in the state that has stronger partnerships than we do. By that, I mean I can text or call a superintendent at any time. They trust us and our relationship is truly a reciprocal partnership, in that we listen to them very deeply and intently.”
In fact, the College of Education meets with its school partners at least twice each year, Wilson said.
“We talk about what our students are doing well and how we can improve our program,” she said. “We also talk about changes in the school system. It’s really important that educator preparation programs like ours are responsive, flexible and nimble enough to change, so we’re not just doing everything the way we did it 20 years ago.
“It’s about a responsiveness to changing our program to meet the continuously changing needs of the educational landscape.”