May 6, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Samantha Cooperman McGeorge Named Graduate Assistant of the Year

Pictured are Dr. Traycee Martin, interim vice president for the Division of Finance and Administration, and Samantha Cooperman McGeorge, the 2014-2015 Graduate Assistant of the Year. 

VALDOSTA — Samantha M. Cooperman McGeorge of the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center is Valdosta State University’s 2014-2015 Graduate Assistant of the Year.

Dr. Gina M. Doepker, Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center director and Department of Early Childhood and Special Education associate professor, nominated the 25-year-old Roswell native for the distinguished honor. She said that McGeorge has served as her graduate assistant for two years and referenced her reliability, initiative, professionalism, research, and uniqueness of contribution in the nomination letter.

“Samantha is extremely reliable and resourceful,” Doepker shared. “She maintains her regular work hours at the [Ruby R.] Sullivan Literacy Center and is always ready to help. She frequently comes in early or stays late as needed.”

As a graduate assistant, McGeorge’s responsibilities included securing donations from the community to ensure the success of the annual Southern Regional Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, which is hosted by VSU each spring semester and sees more than 400 South Georgia elementary, middle, and high school students facing off in a challenge of reading mastery. She was also in charge of the semi-annual Scholastic Book Fair, which raises funds to support literacy initiatives offered by the university.

“Samantha was a major part of the new Blazing LitES (Literacy Education Success) program development within the [Ruby R.] Sullivan Literacy Center,” Doepker shared. “Samantha took the initiative to individually screen the children registered for this new program … in order to find their instructional reading levels for placement into guided reading groups. She also … (served) as a mentor for many of the undergraduate pre-service teachers who tutor the children of the [Ruby R.] Sullivan Literacy Center. She always gives valuable advice and support to these pre-service teachers when they are planning their effective guided reading lessons.”

McGeorge quickly became known for her ability to handle any challenge or problem in a mature and professional manner, Doepker said. Her management skills contributed to the effectiveness, efficiency, and overall success of the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center. She maintained and updated files and records for all of the children enrolled in the different literacy programs. She actively recruited, organized, and maintained contact with all of the student volunteers for the different literacy programs. She also served as a room facilitator for one of the programs, Blazing Through Books, planning and implementing meaningful and engaging lessons that were developmentally appropriate for children in kindergarten and first grade. 

McGeorge also collaborated with Doepker and other faculty members within the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services on a number of research endeavors. She worked on several studies specific to the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center.

“As a result, she has completed literature reviews, collected data, prepared spreadsheets, transcribed numerous interviews, and participated in the preliminary coding of the data,” Doepker added. “Her time and effort as a research assistant has been instrumental in helping us to maintain our rigorous scholarly agenda.”

McGeorge earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, with a major in early childhood education, from VSU in May 2013. She added a reading endorsement in July 2014 and finished a Master of Education in early childhood education and an English to Speakers of Other Languages endorsement this spring. She received the Outstanding Involvement with Community and Families Award in 2015 and was selected for Who’s Who Among Students in Colleges and Universities in 2013. She is the daughter of Rob and Lisa Cooperman and recently wed Patrick McGeorge. 

When asked how it felt to be named Graduate Assistant of the Year, she said, “I feel excited but totally in shock. I knew that I have worked extremely hard over the past two years at my job, but I'm extremely thankful that it paid off and didn't go unnoticed. If I could do it again, I would, as I absolutely love what I do and the people I work with. The awesome community and families help to make this as enjoyable as it can be.”

McGeorge plans to pursue work as an elementary school teacher in Tampa, Fla.

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