Shaping Leaders at UWG
Alumni Named Top Georgia Educators
By Tia Stegall
The University of West Georgia challenges students to Go West in order to become leaders and create their own paths. Several alumni are meeting - and exceeding - this challenge in the field of education. In fact, this year's top three Georgia principals and assistant principals are all UWG graduates.
Smokey Road Middle School's Dr. Laurie Barron '99 was named the National Association of Secondary Principals' Georgia Middle School Principal of the Year (2012-2013) as well as a finalist for National Principal of the year (winner to be announced in September). She credits UWG's extensive education curriculum with preparing her for navigating through situations she encountered on the job, especially those related to possible legal conditions.
"My coursework at West Georgia also exposed me to new ideas and thoughts that encouraged me to grow as a leader," says Dr. Barron.
For her inspiration to pursue her particular career path, she pointed to Christy Hill, her 12th grade advanced placement English teacher.
"She had a way of making literature come alive," Dr. Barron remembers. "Reading, analyzing and writing about literature became a passion of mine, and I wanted to share that passion with other young students."
While teaching English, Dr. Barron found herself challenged by administrators to become a teacher leader. Her decision to do so opened doors to engage in a variety of leadership opportunities, and eventually persuaded her to change her graduate school major from an M.A. in English to an M.Ed. in administration and supervision.
Dr. Aaron Corley '01 '04 '09, another administrator at Smokey Road Middle School, was named the National Association of Secondary Principals' Georgia Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year (2012-2013). He certainly understands the value of working hard to achieve his goals. His career is filled with tough jobs: several restaurants, a daycare center, an after school program, second grade teacher, fifth grade teacher and years as both an elementary and middle school assistant principal.
Dr. Corley didn't develop his determination to put himself through school by accident. At an early age, his father taught him the value of perseverance, honesty and the importance of setting goals for himself. The impact of past teachers and colleagues taught him memorable lessons that helped him become the assistant principal he is today.
"My current principal, Dr. Laurie Barron, has been invaluable in teaching me about the good, bad and ugly of school improvement," says Dr. Corley. "She taught me the value of organization and planning and how to work with and get the best from people around me."
UWG also helped prepare him for his future, through educators who had plenty of experience under their belts. He appreciated being taught by both current and former classroom teachers, school administrators, and superintendents, as well as state-level educational leaders.
"A wonderful combination of 'book knowledge' and 'street smarts' made their classes engaging, meaningful and relevant," Dr. Corley explains.
Dr. Barron and Dr. Corley are just two examples of outstanding educators from UWG. In fact, the College of Education is proud to be the third-largest producer of teachers in the state. Our alumni are shaping the minds of countless students - in Georgia, throughout the country and around the globe.
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