College of Education professors visit Georgia Southern University’s Irish campus to brainstorm ahead of the summer study abroad program

$100,000 scholarship pool available for 2022 summer courses in Ireland

Betsy Barrow, Ed.D., left, Catherine Howerter, Ph.D., Amanda Wall, Ph.D., Alex Reyes, Ph.D., Dan Calhoun, Ph.D., Kip Sorgen, Ph.D. , and Howard Keeley, Ph.D., at the Glendalough Monastic Site in Ireland.

Six professors from the College of Education (COE) at Georgia Southern University recently broadened their horizons on a trip to Ireland, learning and sharing their knowledge with instructors and community education leaders in County Wexford.

Led by Howard Keeley, Ph.D., director of the University’s Irish Center for Research and Teaching, COE faculty traveled to the Georgia Southern Learning Center in Wexford, Ireland, to observe Irish educational settings and exchanging ideas with local leaders just before a summer. study abroad program opportunity for South Georgia students in which $100,000 scholarships are available.

“The main thing we did was pitch in front of education sector leaders in Ireland,” Keeley said. “We have spoken to a number of people who are either principals or vice-principals or in some way senior administrators in various schools, including boys’, girls’, religious, secular and coeducational schools. .”

Catherine Howerter (left), Betsy Barrow, Amanda Wall, Kip Sorgen, Dan Calhoun, Alex Reyes at the Dunbrody Emigration Center in Ireland.
Catherine Howerter (left), Betsy Barrow, Amanda Wall, Kip Sorgen, Dan Calhoun, Alex Reyes at the Dunbrody Emigration Center in Ireland.

The group included Catherine Howerter, Ph.D., associate professor of elementary and special education; Kip Sorgen, Ph.D., assistant professor of leadership, technology, and human development; Alex Reyes, Ph.D., assistant professor of middle and high school; Amanda Wall, Ph.D., associate professor of middle and high school education; Betsy Barrow, Ed.D., assistant middle and high school teacher; and Dan Calhoun, Ph.D., professor of leadership, technology and human development.

Reyes, who trains pre-service and in-service teachers to work with students from diverse cultures and languages, was delighted to come to Wexford after a study abroad program in the Czech Republic she led with Wall was canceled in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Intrigued by Ireland, a multilingual country, she was curious to see how Wexford’s environment could culturally benefit students.

“I thought it was really exciting,” Reyes said. “All the road signs are in Irish, even though English is the main language spoken. This prioritization of this cultural heritage is fascinating. It was great to hear that pupils in their primary and secondary schools are taking the language and Irish culture as a subject each year.

She was particularly motivated by a trip to an Irish language school, Meanscoil Gharman, which welcomes middle and high school students. With the exception of one daily lesson in English, teachers and students conducted all lessons in Irish.

“It was really interesting to see that perspective,” she said. “There has been a revitalization of this culture. I thought it was fascinating to see how this can be handled at school.

Additionally, Reyes was duly impressed with the country’s focus on children’s social and emotional literacy and the mandatory wellness hours that are being incorporated into daily school routines in the wake of the pandemic. A hygiene promotion program and a campaign against bullying are also integrated into the wellness programme.

“It really impressed me that as a nation they prioritize the welfare of students and how language and cultures can really be supported in a meaningful way,” Reyes said. “It’s encouraging to see a proactive approach that has positive results. Now, looking to the future, we can see how we can create opportunities for our students to experience this type of approach. »

Sorgen, who teaches in Georgia Southern’s Instructional Leadership Program, became interested in Ireland’s professional preparation.

“None of them had an advanced degree, like what we offer at Georgia Southern,” Sorgen noted. “Learning to become a headteacher in Ireland is on-the-job training. In Georgia, there are specific educational requirements for our school administrators guided by professional standards. In Ireland, they tend to move up through the ranks, which makes career mentoring essential to their success. We explore how our instructional leadership students might learn from Irish administrators about their experience, particularly with mentoring.

He also sees the international partnership as a two-way exchange.

“As instructional leadership programs are not common in Ireland, our faculty are considering ways to use our expertise to support the leadership development of principals and teachers at Wexford,” Sorgen said. “We would use the Georgia Southern Wexford campus to host some of these sessions, strengthening Georgia Southern’s relationship within the Wexford community.”

Keeley has also hosted meetings with education policymakers, including an extended meeting with an Irish Congressman who is a County Wexford representative in the Irish national parliament and chairs the joint committee for the Irish equivalent of the House and Senate Committee on Education and Higher Education. education.

“It was a great opportunity for our faculty to speak to someone at the highest level of government in Ireland, creating Irish state education policy,” Keeley said. “And I know from the feedback we’ve received from our colleagues at the College of Education that, especially for those in higher education, this has been a really helpful and next-step experience for them.”

The trip exceeded expectations.

“It was a fantastic learning experience for everyone,” Keeley said. “We’ve had a lot of high-level and also very hands-on experiences, and I could see our College of Education team thinking, ‘How can I bring what I’m learning, what I’m going through right now. , in my classroom, in my curriculum, in my future study abroad courses in a way that supports student success for our people in southern Georgia. I think it was a great visit.

Complementing the faculty trip, a COE Irish Studies Abroad program on diverse education in Ireland has recently been approved for summer 2022 and will give education students the opportunity to take one or two courses with the study abroad component. This will be part of a wider study abroad program at Wexford, presented by Honors College and the Center for Irish Research and Teaching, with assistance from the Provost’s Office and the Office of Global Engagement.

Costs for undergraduate students at Georgia Southern’s Wexford campus will be offset by a $100,000 scholarship fund with $1,000 scholarships for each student accepted into the program.

“For students traveling to Wexford, Ireland this summer, we will be able to cover the cost of the program through a generous travel grant through the Georgia Southern University Foundation,” said Dustin Anderson, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Student Success. . “The donation makes these the most affordable multi-week programs we have ever been able to offer.”

Keeley is delighted that donations from generous donors are enabling a number of students to gain valuable global experiences.

“For students, having the opportunity to have an international life is powerful, and it’s powerful in ways that sometimes we can’t even predict,” he said. “Just being abroad is going to change any of us, isn’t it? It can be really transformative to feel that, you know, as a student , “I can do this” and then an afterthought, “I did this”, and that in itself is educational Giving students a safe space in Wexford, Ireland to grow and feel they are in sort of citizens of the world and bringing the best of America, bringing the best of Georgia, bringing the best of the Savannah states to Ireland and learning how to be an ambassador. It’s wonderful.”

In addition to education courses, students will also be able to choose between a Wexford-Savannah specialization survey and an interdisciplinary program open to all students on human migration with courses in geography, religious studies, public health and a CORE study courses abroad.

Interested students can learn more about the program by clicking here and can email Kristin Karam at the Office of Global Engagement for more scholarship information.

Georgia Southern University-Wexford is a global center of learning housed in a historic building built in 1812. The space now includes state-of-the-art classrooms and student apartments. Georgia Southern is the first public university in the United States to open a distance learning center in Ireland.

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