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Local teachers take part in Georgia-Pacific programs
0713 GP Teachers
Georgia-Pacific selected three Effingham County teachers to take part in summer workshops. From left to right, front row, are: Kristina Flake of Ebenezer Middle School, Tasha Drain of South Effingham High School and Brad Thornton of Ebenezer MIddle. On the back row, from left to right, are: April Hodges, Effingham Schools curriculum coordinator; Brent Howell, environmental manager at GP Savannah River Mill; Dr. Randy Shearouse, superintendent of Effingham County School System; Rob Shaw, vice president of manufacturing at GP Savannah River Mill; Dr. Mark Winters, principal at South Effingham High School; and Amie Dickerson, principal at Ebenezer Middle School. - photo by Photo provided

Three teachers from Effingham County schools were recently selected to spend part of their summer engaging in programs designed to help them bring academic subjects to life for their students.

Kristina Flake of Ebenezer Middle School was selected and sponsored by Georgia-Pacific to attend Keystone Science School’s Key Issues Institute: Bringing Environmental Issues to the Classroom program. Flake is one of 17 teachers sponsored to attend Key Issues from Georgia-Pacific’s facility communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Held every June and July, the Key Issues program held in Silverthorne, Colorado brings together K-12 educators from around the world for a highly interactive, four-and-a-half-day workshop. The program is designed to help teachers of all subjects build students’ critical thinking skills while also reinforcing teachers’ confidence and skills in bringing environmental issues and STEM-based principles into the classroom.

Teachers will learn to present scientific concepts in an unbiased way to their students while discovering ways to make environmental issues and STEM interesting and engaging. Teachers will bring home lesson plans and lab kits to apply what they’ve learned to their local classrooms. The Keystone Science School also coordinates ongoing support from other educators and instructors online.

“Georgia-Pacific is proud to support educators by helping them highlight important environmental issues in engaging and creative ways,” said Rob Shaw, vice president of manufacturing at Georgia-Pacific’s Savannah River Mill. “The Keystone Science School program gives teachers the chance to learn about environmental issues first-hand, and it also provides tools they can use to share these important lessons with the students in our local community year after year.”

Tasha Drain of South Effingham High School and Brad Thornton of Ebenezer Middle School are two of 12 educators from Georgia-Pacific’s facility communities to attend the Bill of Rights Institute’s “2016 Founders Fellowship” program July 25-29 in Washington, D.C. This annual fellowship provides teachers with training and tools to educate students about America’s founders, their ideals, and economic and civil liberties.

“Understanding and appreciating economics and entrepreneurship is a critical part of our education system, and the Georgia-Pacific Foundation is committed to supporting programs that promote these principles,” said Curley Dossman, president of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation. “The Founders Fellowship program strives to help educators simplify these complex concepts and bring them to life for students when they return to their classrooms.”

Aimed at civics, history, government and economics teachers, one of the Founders Fellowship program’s goals is to help students understand the Constitution and the freedoms and opportunities it provides. The conference offers lectures by constitutional scholars and will explore the liberties of the First Amendment.

Teachers will also visit historical sites and tour national monuments in the Washington, D.C. area. Participants are eligible to receive 30 hours of continuing learning credits and will receive lesson plan ideas aligned with national and state standards to bring back to the classroom.

All three Effingham teachers were recently recognized for their selection and participation by both Shaw and Dr. Randy Shearouse, superintendent of Effingham County schools.

“I am so excited and thankful that Georgia-Pacific is giving three of our teachers the opportunity to learn through the Key Issues Institute and the 2016 Founders Fellowship programs,” said Shearouse. “Part of our vision statement for the Effingham County School District refers to equipping students to compete in our global society. The first step in reaching our vision is having well-trained teachers who go above and beyond to increase their knowledge. This additional knowledge can be shared with colleagues and students, which is a benefit to the entire school system.”