Thirty-eight high school juniors and seniors were recently welcomed into the Valdosta State University Sullivan Scholar Program, which recruits and educate high-quality teachers for rural schools in Georgia by offering college scholarships to future educators.
The new Sullivan Scholars — representing 17 school districts throughout the state — will begin attending VSU in Fall 2019 or Fall 2020. They all have a high grade point average, a passion for becoming a teacher, and significant financial need.
Among those receiving the scholarships are Jeff Davis High students Torrence Weaver, Lindsey White, Morgan Morris, Haley Bass, Dylan Taylor, Jimmy Cruz-Rojas and Elsa Gonzalez.
The scholarship recipients were recognized at the recent Sullivan Education Summit which assisted new Sullivan Scholars and their families in the transition to college and explored strategies for bringing quality teachers to rural areas.
The VSU Sullivan Scholar 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 varies depending on the additional financial aid, such as the HOPE Scholarship or Pell Grant, he or she receives. Participants will also receive a $400 stipend each semester while in college.
If participants choose to teach at a rural school in Georgia after graduating from VSU, they will receive a $2,500 stipend per year for their first two years of teaching.
“Rural schools in our region and state struggle to attract and keep good teachers; we’re hoping our program changes that,” said Dr. Karla Hull, professor of curriculum, leadership, and technology at VSU and executive director of the VSU Sullivan Scholar Program. “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.
“There are also students in non-rural schools in Georgia who have a passion for teaching and want to give back by teaching in a rural or Title I school in Georgia. Thus, we have included several non-rural schools in a pilot program. This program has a different funding source, but the students from these non-rural schools will be members of the VSU Sullivan Scholar Program.”
At VSU, participants must maintain a 3.0 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.