August 2, 2018
18-159

John Stephen
Communications Specialist

VSU Students Gain In-Depth Teaching Experience at Georgia Tech Summer Program

VSU student DaShon Walton pictured with Horizons at Georgia Tech scholars at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University education majors spent the summer gaining real-world teaching experience while also making an impact in the lives of young learners.

Six VSU students worked as paid, full-time interns at Horizons at Georgia Tech, a summer program at the Georgia Institute of Technology that offers free academic and recreational instruction to under-served students in grades first through ninth in the Atlanta area.

Sirocus Barnes — who earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and counseling in 2006 and a Master of Arts in public administration in 2011 from VSU — is the program director for Horizons at Georgia Tech. For the past three years he has partnered with VSU’s Office of Career Opportunities to hire VSU students as assistant teachers for the six-week program that takes place throughout June and July.

“While at VSU, I learned the true meaning of hard work and how to work with others that were different than me,” said Barnes, who is also a member of VSU’s Alumni Association Board and serves as president of the VSU Alumni Chapter of Atlanta. “It was while at VSU that I developed my love for youth programming through clubs and working for a local youth program in Valdosta. While in my master’s program, I learned grant writing skills, government budgeting and finance, and best human resources management practices. VSU definitely prepared me for the workforce. Through this internship, I hope to also help prepare our undergrads for their next step in life.”

The VSU interns supervised Horizons participants, developed and implemented project-based learning lesson plans, and assisted with hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities. They also assisted with swimming lessons that served to build confidence in the children.

“The Horizons program has been a memorable experience that I will forever cherish,” said DaShon Walton, one of six VSU students hired for the 2018 program. Walton is a middle grades education major from Americus, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2019.

“The scholars there are amazing, as well as the staff,” Walton said. “I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the scholars at the program and develop impactful relationships. This internship at Horizons has truly prepared me for what’s to come in my field.”

Matthew Ramsay, a middle grades education major from Snellville, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2021, said the internship was “rewarding.”

“Every day I learned new things about teaching, relating to scholars, and how to create a productive classroom,” he said. “The days went by fast, and I never really felt like I was at work.”

Kamryn Brantley, a communication sciences and disorders major from Powder Springs, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Fall 2020, said her own experiences as a child motivated her to apply for the internship. 

“One reason why I wanted to work with the program is because I've been in the same shoes as the scholars — as a child, I attended programs like Horizons,” she said. “One thing I love about the program is the field trips we got to take the scholars on. The scholars got to learn in more than one way. With the campus of the program being in the heart of Atlanta, it opens so many doors for so many different opportunities.”

Erin Cole, a middle grades education major from Suwanee, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Fall 2018, said her classes at VSU prepared her to succeed at Horizons.

“Throughout my years at VSU, I have learned different ways of teaching a class and a subject, as well as how to manage a classroom effectively,” she said. “Using those differentiation strategies allowed me to provide the scholars at Horizons with an enriching environment that supported and promoted inquiry, excitement, learning, and curiosity.

“I believe in this program’s mission to educate children with high quality academics in an engaging summer environment. I know I made a difference in these children’s education and aided them in skipping the summer slide.”

Horizons at Georgia Tech is committed to the development of the whole child through experiences that build problem-solving skills, foster awareness of community responsibility, instill respect for themselves and others, and encourage a lifelong interest in learning. The program’s primary goals include preventing summer decline in academic achievement and raising students’ expectations and aspirations.

On the Web:
https://www.ceismc.gatech.edu/horizons
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