Stevie Jackson has been in school her entire life. Jackson bounced to graduate school just days after completing her bachelor’s program and is now completing her specialist’s degree (EdS) in instructional technology from UWG all while teaching full time in the classroom.
The fifth grade Oak Hill Elementary School teacher is able to blend her hands-on experiences in the classroom with her assignments in her specialist’s program thanks to her principal and professor’s collaboration.
“Oak Hill has been very flexible with me and anything I need for college and West Georgia has made a lot of their work job embedded,” says Jackson.
The materials that Jackson is learning in her online college courses can be translated right into her current teaching methods, allowing her to better herself as a teacher while completing her own college assignments. Her collaboration with her peers, who are mostly all certified working teachers, has offered her a chance to talk about what works best in a real classroom setting.
“I’m able to get feedback from the things that I’m learning at West Georgia and I can ask my professors, ‘what’s the fastest way to do this?’” says Jackson. “It’s just a bunch of sharing ideas, taking it back to my workplace, seeing it work, and especially for students with disabilities or challenges, finding things that help them.”
Using the techniques learned in her college courses, Jackson has found practical ways to enhance the classroom experience for her students by using new programs such as Padlet, DocsTeach and Google classroom.
“I let technology do the work when it comes to getting feedback from my students rather than going paper by paper, reading feedback,” says Jackson. “I’m able to turn around and spend more time teaching. By using technology, I’m spending less time on things that are not going to directly affect my students.”
Jackson thanks the staff at Oak Hill for their support while she continues her college and teaching career simultaneously. Principal Dr. Brenda Gammans pushed Jackson towards success since the time she started at Oak Hill as a paraprofessional.
“She’s not somebody that wants you to devote all your time to work,” says Jackson. “She wants you to further your education. She wants me to be a good mom to my family. By her being such a relatable person and an understanding boss, it makes me want to achieve so much more and be the best version of myself. She’s always saying, ‘yeah you can do it. You’re smart.’”
Jackson has also had opportunities to attend conferences andprofessional training, frequently encouraged by her boss. “[Gammans] said, ‘yeah, go, do whatever you want to do. And when you come back, let us know. We want to be a part of that,’” says Jackson.
Jackson hopes that by showing her students her current experience in college, she will encourage them to do the same. She frequently shows her students her own assignments and papers, hoping that she’ll push them to better themselves in that same way.
The new mom plans to take the summer off from teaching andstudenthood before graduating with her EdS in the Spring of 2024.
“After that, I don’t know, but I feel like I’m always going to be that teacher who pushes her kids above the level that they’re at.”