Getting teachers into the workforce remains a problem nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, 17% of teachers leave the field of education after five years.
However, teachers who have graduated from Augusta University’s College of Education and Human Development fare much better as nearly 93% of AU graduates stay in the profession, according to Debbie Morowski, PhD, associate dean for COEHD. Not just that, AU graduates have a 100% placement rate for teachers who remain in Georgia.
With that in mind, COEHD teamed up with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators to host a Future Georgia Educators Day with high school students from Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties all coming to Augusta University to learn more about the profession. The day-long event featured the 2024 Georgia Teacher of the Year Christy Todd and several workshop sessions hosted by current educators.
More than 200 students were given a glimpse to see what could lie ahead of them if they choose to pursue a degree in education.
Morowski said giving these students an opportunity to hear from current professionals can go a long way in helping them decide their teaching future.
“Our goal is to give these students a really good understanding of what it is like to be a teacher and to look at the different areas of teaching they can go into,” said Morowski. “I want them to be excited about education. A lot of times education gets a bad rap. We want them to hear from individuals, teachers of the year, professors and administrators who can share their passion for teaching and really help them understand this is a noble profession that can change lives.”
Many students came to the event with enthusiasm about becoming a teacher and even about attending Augusta University.
“I really hope to learn what Augusta University is all about since I really want to go to this school. I really just want to learn how the teaching world really works,” said Riley Smith, a freshman at Lakeside High School.
Some students have had teachers or family members play an important role in getting them interested in the profession.
“My seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Dimmock, he’s a very big reason why I’m thinking about teaching right now. He has inspired me by interacting with me and other students and by pushing me to do better for myself,” said Chase Johnson, a sophomore at Grovetown High School.
“I want to teach kindergarten because I was inspired by my grandmother. She’s still a teacher, a sub in South Carolina,” said Nevaeh Brown, an Evans High School junior. “I just like little kids more. They are always hyper, and I want to keep that going for them.”
Besides the keynote speaker, the workshops featured various topics that included breaking down some of the myths associated with teaching, other types of jobs outside the classroom that an education degree can lead to and even pointing out the pathway that teachers may take to become an administrator.
The event offered up a little bit of everything for the future educators to consider.
“Now that I really want to become a teacher, I can focus on how they teach and how they treat the students in the classroom. I can really focus in on that,” added Smith.