More than 60 high school students with aspirations of becoming teachers descended upon the University of North Georgia (UNG) to learn more about the profession on Future Georgia Educators (FGE) Day. UNG's College of Education (COE) students were happy to assist.

Thirteen COE Student Ambassadors led students around campus and answered questions, while some led workshops. They are among the 470 UNG juniors and seniors in classrooms in some 112 schools across the state in the teacher preparation program for the 2021-22 school year.

Madison Standridge of Homer was one of those COE Student Ambassadors.

"We want to help sustain and increase the teacher pipeline," Dr. Christian Bello Escobar, director of academic and community engagement for the COE and UNG FGE Day coordinator, said. "There's a need for new teachers. Hosting this program allows us to be marketable to the students who have an interest in this profession."

Hosted on Oct. 26 at the Convocation Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, FGE Day helps pique the interest of the potential next wave of educators. High school students from the Carroll County, Commerce City, Fulton County, and Jones County school systems took part in the event, which was co-sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. Multiple Georgia higher education institutions host FGE days to promote teaching as a profession to more than 4,000 high school students across the state.

Madison Standridge, a UNG senior from Homer, Georgia, pursuing a degree in English with teacher certification, appreciated the chance to share her knowledge and passion.

"You have a soft spot when you want to teach for the other people who are expressing that desire," Standridge said. "They can make a difference."

Standridge said she wished she understood more how college worked before she arrived at UNG, and she was glad to assist these kids before they enter a teacher preparation program. She said that the difficulties teachers face have not dampened her passion for the profession."If you want to make a difference in this world, you will be a good teacher," she said. "When you find that you love it, it's worth it in the end."

Mya Loren, a senior at Milton High School, was thankful for the experience.

"It makes me realize all the different options I have," she said. "All teacher preparation programs have their unique touch."

Dawson Henricks, a UNG senior from Clayton, Georgia, pursuing a degree in kinesiology with teacher certification, encouraged the high school students to pursue teaching. His own teachers' helpful, kind demeanor is what inspired him to enter the field.

"I want to have an influence on kids," Henricks said. "That's what our job is."

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