April 17, 2018

VSU Establishes Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program for Future Teachers

VALDOSTA — In an effort to recruit and educate high-quality teachers for rural schools in Georgia, Valdosta State University has established the Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program. 

The Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program awards college scholarships to high school juniors and seniors from high-poverty schools in rural Georgia who want to attend VSU and become K-12 teachers after graduation. The program provides a debt-free college experience for participants and covers all college-related expenses, including tuition, books, housing, and meals. The amount given to each student will vary depending on the additional financial aid, such as the HOPE Scholarship or Pell Grant, that he or she receives. Participants will also receive a $400 stipend each semester while in college.

“The core purpose of this program is not only to offer a quality teaching education to students from rural areas who otherwise may not get such an opportunity, but also to encourage those students to teach in low-income areas in Georgia after graduation,” said Dr. Karla Hull, professor of curriculum, leadership, and technology at VSU and executive director of the Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program. “Rural schools struggle to attract and keep good teachers. We’re hoping our program changes that.”

The Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program is invitation-only and based on need and merit. To be eligible, high school juniors or seniors must attend a rural Georgia school that is participating in the program; receive at least two nominations from a teacher, guidance counselor, or principal; have a desire to attend VSU and become a teacher; maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher while in high school; have a significant need for financial aid to attend college; and meet VSU admission requirements. 

Once accepted into the program, students must provide tutoring to middle grades students for two semesters while in high school.

At VSU, participants must maintain a 2.75 grade point average and gain admission into a teacher preparation program within the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services.

If participants choose to teach at a high-poverty school in Georgia after graduating from VSU, they will receive a $2,500 stipend per year for their first two years of teaching.

“We want them to fall in love with taking care of kids in rural, low-income counties,” Hull said. “We will hopefully build cohorts at VSU that are bonded, that love VSU, and that over the years can grow this program and keep it alive and change the face of teaching in Georgia. We will work to ensure that they’re successful as teachers and can give back to the state’s rural areas.”

The Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program is made possible by the generosity of Ruby R. Sullivan, a Camilla, Georgia, native who obtained an education degree from Georgia State Woman’s College (now VSU) in 1932. Sullivan spent 67 years as an educator, dedicating her life to teaching students in high-poverty schools in rural Georgia. She passed away in 2017 at the age of 103. Her passion for serving others led her to create the Valdosta Sullivan Scholars Program. Sullivan’s previous donations to VSU created the Ruby and John Sullivan Scholarship for education majors and the Ruby R. Sullivan Literacy Center, which focuses on building children's literacy skills, motivation, and confidence.

Contact Dr. Karla Hull at sullivanscholars@valdosta.edu or 229-219-1324 to learn more.

On the Web: