JSU education students tout skills for potential employers
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Feb 28, 2013 | 6724 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cliff Booth, Human Resources Director for Morgan County Schools, talks with Raven Thompson and Jackie Stallings at Jacksonville State University’s reverse career fair. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Cliff Booth, Human Resources Director for Morgan County Schools, talks with Raven Thompson and Jackie Stallings at Jacksonville State University’s reverse career fair. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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Brittany Folsom stood alert in dark-colored business attire, a stark contrast to the bright pink cardboard display behind her. The display was a glimpse into the Jacksonville State University education student’s cheerful personality, her teaching skills and achievements. The senior will graduate this year magna cum laude with a 3.78 grade point average.

“I worked very hard,” Folsom said with a laugh.

Folsom, of Talladega, and more than 60 of her fellow JSU education students had their skill sets on display Wednesday in the Houston Cole Library. Called a reverse career fair, the event gave the students a chance to show off their knowledge and skills to visiting potential employers. In a standard career fair, job-seekers visit booths set up by job-providers.

The 11th floor of the library was filled with colorful displays showing each student’s experience and field of study, from general science to mathematics.

Folsom’s focus is on preschool through sixth-grade education.

“My philosophy is that I believe every child can learn and that you can meet the need of every child,” Folsom said.

Folsom said she does not want to simply teach from worksheets, but instead get her students involved in learning.

“I want them working in groups, investigating and learning,” she said.

Folsom said she was enjoying the reverse career fair.

“Oh, it’s wonderful … it’s better than the other way around,” Folsom said.

Courtney Davis, a JSU senior focusing on secondary education biology, agreed that the reverse career fair was a good idea.

“I think it allows us to show who we are as individuals and what we can bring to the table,” Davis said.

Davis said Wednesday morning that he had spoken to recruiters from the Huntsville, Blount County and Madison County school systems.

Becca Turner, director of career services at JSU, said the idea for the reverse career fair came about from a discussion among several faculty members from JSU’s college of education about how to better engage students and recruiters.

“I’m so pleased with the participation of the students,” Turner said. “And the recruiters seem to be engaging in it.”

Greg Hicks, principal at Columbia High School in Huntsville, said Wednesday’s event was his first reverse career fair and was very impressed.

“I like it because it gives recruiters more of an idea of what (the students) can do … how creative they are,” Hicks said. “It’s what you don’t get in a regular interview-type session.”

Along with their handmade displays, many students also used iPads and laptops to show off their skills and how they can integrate new technology with their curriculums.

“We’ve instituted a one-to-one initiative, where all our students have laptops,” Hicks said. “So if our teachers today are not familiar with technology, they’ll be lost.”

Both Davis and Folsom had laptops that showed videos of them teaching in classrooms.

Brandon Miliam of Talladega, senior secondary education general science student, had an iPad displaying how he could quickly send lesson plans and other information to students.

“If I forget to tell them something in class, I can send it to them on their cell phones,” Miliam said.

Miliam said modern technology can be very important in educating today’s students, if it is used correctly.

“You have to focus on critical thinking so that students will benefit from it instead of them thinking it’s another assignment they will not remember,” Miliam said.

Dr. Andre Denham, assistant professor of education policy, leadership and technology studies at the University of Alabama, who did not attend the event, said during a Wednesday phone interview that new teachers today must have a strong knowledge of technology and its uses to be successful in today’s classroom.

“They have to understand the principles of technology integration in the classroom,” Denham said. “It’s not just looking at technology as a one-all solution for everything … they have to understand which technology tools are appropriate.”

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.
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