Augusta University is celebrating compassion on Thursday, Nov. 12 during the third annual Values Week.
One student who embodies compassion is Jasmine Payne, a senior elementary education major and Augusta native.
Compassion is reflected in caring, empathy and social responsibility.
Jasmine Payne grew up in Augusta for most of her life and is a senior in the College of Education. She’s preparing to teach next year after graduating in spring 2021, and is passionate about all levels of elementary education.
Teaching is in Payne’s blood. Her mother was a professor of mathematics at Augusta University for 15 years, teaching courses including precalculus and statistics. She says watching her mother teach inspired her to pursue education herself — and that, coupled with her love of children, made for a good career match.
“I started babysitting at 13, so I’ve always been drawn to helping children and watching them grow,” said Payne.
Among her faculty and staff in the College of Education, Payne has left an impression as a compassionate teacher who provides her students opportunities to express varied perspectives.
Payne believes fostering this type of respectful and diverse environment is important for elementary-level students. Building a sense of rapport and trust with students starts early, and on a foundation of mutual respect.
“To build a sense of respect in the classroom, you just have to have conversations with students,” she said. “You have to encourage talking about your feelings, and before a lesson maybe have a one-on-one or small-group conversation with students to encourage respectful behavior.”
But Payne believes respect begins with compassion, and that students can only truly respect and trust an educator who invests in them personally.
“I think when you show that you care about students, you’ll get more respect. If you have this authoritative personality — ‘Oh, I’m in charge, you guys have to listen to me’ — you won’t get as much respect,” said Payne.
“But if you show them that you truly do care about them, then they’ll care about you back, and you’ll have this mutual respect.”
Payne finds that her faculty in the College of Education are excellent role models for compassion. “Every single teacher I’ve had in the program has shown compassion. This is the first experience I’ve had where I’ve truly felt like all of my teachers cared, and I think that’s helped me become a better student,” said Payne.
She has received special support from Dr. Kim Barker in the Department of Teaching and Leading.
“I’ve had Dr. Barker for two semesters, and she’s always made an effort to let us know that she cares about us and she always backs it up with action. If you email her, she’s always quick to answer and give encouragement,” said Payne.
“She’s just really caring and supportive, and I’ll probably remember her forever.”
Hear more from Roberto Aragon, coordinator for Student Involvement on In the Wild podcast.
Outside of her teaching philosophy, Payne shows compassion in other ways; namely, through community service and volunteer efforts in the Augusta area. Payne has promoted the teaching profession at Future Georgia Educator Day and High School Education Pathways, two programs that encourage high school students to pursue a career in education.
For her efforts in and out of the classroom, Payne was named the 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Elementary Education.
Moving forward in her career, Payne plans to bring her compassion with her, as she believes it’s crucial to a positive and impactful learning experience for her students.
“Compassion makes everyone feel more comfortable communicating in the classroom. It helps build interpersonal bonds and reduce stress and anxiety, which all contribute to helping students learn,” she said. “And after all, that’s what they’re in school to do.”
To display compassion, the university will be signing posters for our local essential workers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 in the JSAC Breezeway. Students are encouraged to participate and show their gratitude for our frontline workers at AU Health.
Payne and the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs encourage all students to find ways to show more compassion on campus.
Check out more stories of our Values Week honorees. These students ‘prowldly‘ represent our six core values throughout the year.