Two GCSU faculty named as Governor’s Teaching Summer Fellows

Two GCSU faculty named as Governor’s Teaching Summer Fellows

Two Georgia College & State University educators have been selected to attend the Governor’s Teaching Fellows (GTF) Summer Symposium—a selective program that helps teachers increase their knowledge of new technologies and innovative instruction for the classroom.

The two fellows are Dr. Suzanna Roman-Oliver, assistant professor of Secondary Education, and Dr. Omolola Akinola Ologunorisa, lecturer in Geography. They join about a dozen other educators statewide for an intensive five days of learning at the University of Georgia (UGA) May 15 to 19.

“I feel very honored to have been nominated by Georgia College and selected by this program as a fellow for the Summer Symposium. I look forward to engaging in the learning activities and meeting other like-minded educators from different institutions,” Roman-Oliver said.

Ologunorisa said, “I love teaching and I value it as a higher calling, and because of this, I always look for avenues to train myself with innovative teaching strategies that will provide my students with active, enhanced and engaging learning experiences.”

The Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program was established in 1995 by former Georgia Governor Zell Miller to give higher-education faculty more opportunities to develop important teaching skills. GTF is designed to bring professors up-to-speed, so Georgia students are taught tech-savvy skills and can compete for jobs in an ever-changing, global job market.

An outreach program of the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education at UGA for 25 years, GTF has represented more than 75 different disciplines, professions and teaching areas with over 600 fellows from more than 70 public and private statewide institutions.

Fellows are chosen to participate in an intensive summer symposium or the yearlong symposium that meets three days each month. Both are held at UGA.

Past symposiums addressed numerous themes, like using technology in the classroom and other pedagogical innovations. This year’s summer symposium focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)-related topics.

As fellows, Roman-Oliver and Ologunorisa will explore issues related to redesigning courses and learn about things like educational technology and assessment, conflict management, law and ethics and the future of education.

Participants are selected based on their teaching experience, instructional and professional development and positive impact on campuses.

At Georgia College, Roman-Oliver teaches courses in the online Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Secondary Education program. She’s currently doing research with two other faculty, conducting a document analysis of the “Protect Students First Act.” She’s completing a proposal for a book and often incorporates social justice and culture into curriculum. As part of her work with the College Of Education’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, she and her colleagues were awarded an Inclusive Excellence Faculty Research Grant to support the use of book clubs in promoting social justice.

Roman-Oliver is working to redesign the course, Secondary Science Pedagogy, for students who want to teach high school science. Her revision will help ensure MAT graduates are prepared to meet the needs of diverse learners in science classrooms. She’s looking forward to learning innovative instructional strategies to enhance the courses she teaches.

“I believe this experience will help me grow as an educator in many areas,” Roman-Oliver said. “My goal is to be more intentional about connecting my teaching with my research interests. I also want to be exposed to new technologies that can be integrated in online teaching, as well as non-traditional ways to assess students' learning.”

At Georgia College, Ologunorisa teaches courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geospatial science, landforms, remote sensing and global connections. She’s currently working to help train students in piloting drones and asks all her students to volunteer four hours of service to the university or community.

After the May symposium, Ologunorisa will travel to Nigeria. She was recognized recently by the Institute of International Education and awarded by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to work with Osun State University in Osogbo, Nigeria (UNIOSUN). She’ll collaborate on curriculum co-development in Digital Humanities and GIS, as well as mentor graduate students in GIS and remote sensing.

As a fellow, Ologunorisa hopes to redesign some of her courses to better prepare students to “meet contemporary environmental challenges in the fields of disaster management, crime mapping and hot spot assessment, traffic management, mineral exploration, land resources management, military and defense studies and homeland security, among others.”

The redesign will positively impact student learning and success, she said, as well as improve her effectiveness as a teacher.

“I am confident that the evidence-based practices and inclusive teaching strategies that I will acquire in the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Summer Symposium will prepare me to redesign some courses as well as optimize the learning experience for students across all my classes,” Ologunorisa said. “This fellowship would transform the way I have been teaching for more than ten years and take my teaching pedagogy to the next level for my 21st-century students.”

Updated: 2023-04-05
Cindy O'Donnell
General Institution