Public school veteran brings passion for social studies and service learning to Bagwell College
Georgia (Jan 1, 2004) — “Everything is social studies.”
That’s the mantra Dr. Alice Terry preaches to her students in the department of secondary and middle grades education. A passionate believer in service learning who spent 27 years teaching in the public school system‚ Terry takes to heart the National Council for the Social Studies’ charge to teach civic engagement and create better citizens.
“In terms of day−to−day impact on students‚ social studies is such a powerful thing‚ and it should be taught in a manner that’s engaging‚” said Terry‚ in the midst of her third year as a faculty member at Kennesaw State University. “And my mission is to do that; it’s not just facts that happened a hundred years ago‚ or finding a country on the globe.”
For more than 20 years‚ Terry carried that message directly to the students of Franklin and Elbert counties in northeastern Georgia. She still calls that area home‚ but now she spends her weekdays at Kennesaw State‚ using her experience to help the next generation of teachers develop the skills they will need to be successful in their own right. Chief among those is classroom management‚ as well as the ability to use service learning as an effective educational tool.
“What got me here was my zest and my passion for service learning‚” Terry explained. “That’s where my research interests are.”
Terry’s interest in service learning actually predates the term‚ dating back to an award−winning project her students conducted at Royston Elementary School in 1984. The students were honored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and profiled in the pages of Reader’s Digest as children who helped save their town by heading up a restoration project of two of the oldest buildings Royston‚ conducting a professional marketing study and carrying out a massive cleanup of the downtown area.
“That was the start of it‚” Terry recalled. “It was exciting. It was very life−changing for me. It made me realize what effective teaching is‚ and also the fact that kids can make a difference in the world.”
That project produced a zeal for service learning that has never dampened. Finding that research was lacking on effective ways to use service learning in the classroom‚ Terry took up the banner herself‚ working to understand the method of teaching she had stumbled upon and ultimately developing‚ with the help of a colleague‚ a typology‚ or model‚ for service learning for K−12 education. Her research efforts were honored with one of six “Flame of Excellence” awards given by the KSU Foundation in early 2003. More recently‚ a grant she was working on with Executive in Residence Richard Benjamin was approved by the Corporation for National Service‚ resulting in more than $1 million in funding over the next three years for a project entitled‚ “Character and Civic Engagement through Service Learning.”
“It became a mission‚ a passion and a mission‚ to help others‚” Terry said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing in service learning‚ if you don’t have a method‚ if you don’t look at a model — and quite frankly‚ there were none out there — teachers just don’t know what to do.”
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.