Friday, July 30, 2010

Steven M. Temple Appointed President of Anthem College - Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Steven M. Temple has been appointed president of Anthem College - Atlanta, which will welcome its first class of students in August.

Prior to joining Anthem, Temple held a similar position with ITT Technical Institute in Cordova, TN. Temple has a law degree from Memphis State University.

"Atlanta is a wonderfully diverse city that continues to grow. The emphasis the State of Georgia has placed on education has, in large part, driven this growth. Anthem College is very excited to serve the Atlanta area residents and is committed to providing high-quality post-secondary career education and training to our students and well-prepared graduates to our employers," said Temple.

Located at 2450 Piedmont Road NE in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Anthem College - Atlanta is close to the nearby Lindbergh City Center MARTA transportation station.

The campus offers Associate in Science programs in Medical Assisting, Surgical Technology and Dental Assisting, and will soon be enrolling students for the Associate in Science degree program in both Health Information Management and Computer Networking and Security.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, job growth in the fields being offered at Anthem College is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

"Anthem College is focused on offering academic programs in fields with documented job growth, allowing our students the opportunity to explore careers in these fast growing employment fields," added Temple.

For more information on Anthem College - Atlanta and the programs offered call 678.279.7000 or visit online at www.anthemcollege.com.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Need money for college? Follow these tips

(ARA) - Even though the economy has slowed down, college applications are up. Many people are enrolling in undergraduate programs or going back to school for an advanced degree.

But, unfortunately, some people don't consider pursuing a degree because they lack the finances. The costs can be steep. During the 2009-2010 academic year, the average annual cost of a public four-year degree was $7,020 and for a private four-year degree, $26,273, according to The College Board.

The good news is there is money out there to help you pay for tuition and room and board -- you just have to find it. Here are some tips:

* Apply for every scholarship or grant you can find.
It may seem like a full-time job searching for and applying for scholarships, but the dollars do add up. And they're free. Start your search early -- many scholarships have deadlines. If you're a high school student, begin with your high school guidance counselor for a list of local resources, and then move on to the college you plan to attend. Educational websites are also good sources for scholarship information -- but remember, the information should always be free. Don't expect large amounts and the competition will be fierce for these scholarships. But smaller awards of $1,000 or less typically have fewer applicants and are easier to obtain.

* Plan to earn some extra cash.
Working and going to school at the same time is very common for today's students. Some are earning money for tuition, others for living expenses. You can apply for the Federal Work Study program, find a job on campus or look for something off campus. Graduate students can look for teaching assistant or research positions, which sometimes offer tuition discounts in addition to a salary.

* Apply for federal aid
Student loans are some of the most commonly used financial tools. Use the following steps to apply for financial aid:

1. If you filed an extension for your 2009 taxes, get them finished immediately.

2. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA form) and submit it as soon as possible.

3. When you receive the Student Aid Report, double check the information, and make corrections if needed. Return the report.

4. You will receive an award letter containing all the details about the financial aid you can receive. Consider your options carefully -- look into your anticipated tuition costs, living expenses, and the cost of books and supplies. Reply with your acceptance before the deadline. If you have questions, contact your school's financial aid office.

* Get a private student loan for the rest of your expenses.
Private loans are often used in addition to federal student loans when you find you still need more financing to cover the cost of your education. U.S. Bank offers a No Fee Education Loan for students enrolled part-time or more and making satisfactory academic progress in a bachelor's degree or post baccalaureate program at an eligible college or university. Students receive the full approved loan amount, and let's face it, every penny counts, considering the expense of books, laundry and food. Visit usbank.com/studentloans or call (800) 242-1200 to learn more.

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Natural Resource Conservation Workshop For School Kids

Editor's Note:  We stumbled across this great video from the Georgia Farm Monitor on a recent workshop held in GA which also gave out some scholarships. What could be better than a fun filled week of learning and a potential scholarship to further education for our youth?




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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Finds Eight Race to the Top Finalists Supportive of Charter Schools

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools today released the following statement from president and CEO, Peter Groff. This statement is in response to the announcement of 19 finalists in the second round of competition for Race to the Top funding under the U.S. Department of Education.

"We are pleased to see strong representation from states supportive of charter schools as finalists in the second round of the Race to the Top competition. Eight of the finalists rank among the top 10 states shown to support the growth of high-quality charter schools in our annual examination of state charter laws. We commend these states for the commitment they've shown to education reform by enacting legislation that supports high-quality charter schools.

They are: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York. Two of the other finalists, Florida and Pennsylvania ranked eleventh and twelfth out of forty states with charter laws. We wish them success in their continued pursuit of a high-quality charter school sector within a healthy public education system.

Six states have raised or eliminated caps that hinder the growth of high-quality charter schools in response to Race to the Top. We are pleased to see Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and Rhode Island advanced to the final stage of the competition.

Unfortunately, three finalists fail to meet at least one Race to the Top guideline because they continue to block charter school growth. They are: Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio. Despite education reform efforts that may exist in these states, they are keeping high-quality charter schools from bringing parents another public school option. Kentucky, in particular, has yet to pass a charter school law.

Maryland, also a finalist, was shown to have the worst charter school law in the country according to our rankings.

The remaining states, New Jersey and South Carolina, have charter laws that could be improved, but do not restrict the growth of high-quality charter schools with caps.

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education have created an unprecedented opportunity for reform with the Race to the Top. We applaud the Department's efforts to date and urge them to reinforce their commitment to the growth of high-quality charter schools by awarding grants only to those states with a track record of supporting high-quality charter schools."

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (http://www.publiccharters.org/) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The Alliance works to increase the number of high-performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. More than 1.6 million students attend nearly 5,000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

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Georgia Selected as Finalist for Second Round of Race to the Top Grants

Survey of more than 20,000 educators used to develop proposals

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced that Georgia has been selected as one of 19 finalists by the U.S. Department of Education for the second round of federal “Race to the Top” grants. Georgia stands to receive up to $400 million over four years to implement its plan if selected.

“While like the Oscars it is an honor to be nominated, we look forward to celebrating a win in this race,” said Governor Perdue. “This grant is an opportunity to further align funding and state education policies with our desired outcome of improved student achievement. Georgia has again demonstrated our credentials to be a Race to the Top winner and we are ready to begin implementing these reforms with our partnering school districts.”

The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to improve schools. The fund is available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:

· Adopting common standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

· Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;

· Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

· Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

Only two states, Delaware and Tennessee, were awarded in Round 1 out of 40 states and the District of Columbia that submitted applications. Georgia finished third in Round 1. Georgia received the highest score by a single judge of any state in the competition and was the only state to receive at least 80 percent of available points in each scoring section. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that phase two winners will be announced in late August or early September 2010.

“While some have called this federal intrusion into state education policy, the goals of Race to the Top are well aligned to the direction Georgia is moving,” Governor Perdue added. “As the third place finisher in Phase One, I believe Georgia is in an incredibly strong position to win this phase of the competition. We look forward to the interview process where I am confident the review team will find that Georgia has a clear and compelling plan for improving student achievement.”

Georgia’s application was prepared through strong partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Department of Education, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and education stakeholders. More than 20,000 educators responded to a survey on a variety of topics which shaped the proposals in Georgia’s application. Four working groups and a fifth critical feedback team consisting of teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education faculty, non-profit and informal education organizations, state policy makers, and members of the business and philanthropic communities also worked on aspects of the proposal.

Recommendations focus on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria that inform instruction, and rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based monetary bonuses.

Georgia has already achieved a major part of the application. The State Board of Education has approved the Common Core State Standards, a curriculum developed by the states that is internationally-benchmarked to ensure our students are graduating with the ability to compete within a globally-connected economy. Governor Perdue co-chaired the state-led initiative for common-core state standards through the National Governors Association.

“I am pleased that Georgia has been named a finalist again for Race to the Top funding,” said State Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant. “Our selection validates the great work Georgia has been engaged in for many years. These funds will enable us to continue implementing the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, providing more focused school improvement strategies and developing a Longitudinal Data System to ensure that our students will be globally competitive.”

Twenty-six local school districts have signed on to partner with the state in implementing Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. These districts, which make up more than 41 percent of public school students in Georgia, include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrollton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White. The participating districts include 46 percent of Georgia's students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state’s lowest achieving schools. As part of its Phase II application Georgia added Dade, Peach and Pulaski to the 23 districts that applied in the first round. The three new districts were chosen to align federal School Improvement Grants with Race to the Top.

The state will work closely with these systems to implement the ideas contained in the application. Fifty percent of the funds awarded to Georgia will be distributed to the local partners to meaningfully enact the Race to the Top reforms. The state will study the effectiveness of these practices to identify and scale up those that prove to be effective.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected 15 states, including Georgia, to benefit from technical assistance for RT3 application development. The states were selected based on how well poised they are to win Race to the Top based on progress in education policy and reform. Georgia partnered with The Parthenon Group, a consulting firm based in Boston, which specializes in part in education reform. Georgia’s application, along with all the states that applied in Round 2, can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase2-applications/index.html
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Friday, July 23, 2010

NASA Seeks Undergrads to Defy Gravity for Science and Engineering

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to test an experiment in weightless science as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. Proposals are due by Oct. 27.

The program, managed by the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, provides aspiring explorers a chance to propose, design and fabricate a reduced gravity experiment. Selected teams will get to test and evaluate their experiment aboard a microgravity aircraft. The specially modified jet aircraft flies approximately 30 roller-coaster-like climbs and dips to produce periods of micro and hyper-gravity, ranging from weightlessness to three times the force of Earth's gravity.

"This project gives students a head start in preparing for future ventures by allowing them to do hands-on research and engineering in a truly reduced gravity laboratory," Program Manager Douglas Goforth said.

Interested teams also should submit a letter of intent by Sept. 22. This step is optional, but serves as an introductory notice that a team plans to submit a proposal for the competition. All applicants must be U.S. citizens. Full-time students must be at least 18 years old.

NASA will announce the selected participants on Dec. 8. The actual flights will take place in summer 2011. Selected teams may invite a full-time, accredited journalist to fly with them and document the experiment and gravity-defying experience.

With this program, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation's education programs with the goal of strengthening the future workforce.

To learn more about NASA's education programs, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/education

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fewer Georgia Schools in Needs Improvement Status

Fewer Georgia schools are in Needs Improvement (NI) status, according to the initial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report released July 19. Just over 14% of schools are in NI status this year, compared to 15.4% last year. Thirty-five schools across the state shook the Needs Improvement label by having made AYP for two consecutive years.

"The initial AYP results demonstrate that our schools are more focused than ever and that is translating into fewer schools in Needs Improvement status," said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. "However, the academic bar and the graduation rate requirement increased this year, leading to a smaller percentage of schools making AYP, which is something we will focus closely on over the next several months.”

More than 71% of Georgia's public schools made AYP, a drop from 79% of schools that made AYP last year. This drop is due in large part to the increase in the academic bar in mathematics that students in elementary and middle school had to meet in order for a school to make AYP. The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 80%.

The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals.

Compared to initial AYP results last year, the 2010 report shows that:
- The percentage of schools in NI status decreased from 15.4% to 14.1%.
- The number of schools in NI status decreased from 334 to 305.
- The percentage of schools making AYP decreased eight points from 79.1% to 71.1%.

The percentage of high schools making AYP continues to lag behind. In 2010, just over 33% of the state's high schools made AYP, a decrease of almost 14 percentage points from 2009's initial results.

"We know there is a lot of hard work going on in our high schools, but we must provide more focused support for our students and teachers," Superintendent Bryant said. "I am committed to focusing on the needs of our high schools to ensure they are preparing students for the 21st century."

AYP is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It consists of three parts -- test participation, academic achievement and another statistic, called a "second indicator." The academic goals continue to rise every few years toward a goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. This year, the academic goal for grades 3-8 increased in mathematics and the graduation rate bar went up.

All students at a school, as well as any qualifying subgroup of students, must meet goals in all three categories in order to make AYP. Schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject are placed in Needs Improvement status and face escalating consequences.

35 Schools No Longer in “Needs Improvement”
Initial results show that 35 schools came out of Needs Improvement status by making AYP for the second consecutive year.

"Getting out of NI status isn't easy," Superintendent Bryant said. "These 35 schools should be very proud of their accomplishments, but have to remain focused so they continue making improvements."

There are 305 schools in NI status for the coming school year. These schools must offer parents options, such as public school choice or federally-funded tutoring. Depending on how long these schools have been in NI, some may have to make structural or organizational changes to improve student achievement.
In 2009, there were 334 NI schools after the initial results. That number dropped to 278 after retests, summer graduates and appeals were worked into the formula.

"As we normally do, I believe we will see the number of NI schools drop again when we do our final AYP determinations in the fall," Superintendent Bryant said.

Graduation Rate
The state's initial 2010 graduation rate is 79.9%. That is up from the initial 2009 graduation rate of 77.8% and the final 2009 graduation rate of 78.9%, which included summer graduates.

"Improving the graduation rate is crucial to Georgia being competitive with other states in recruiting and retaining jobs," Superintendent Bryant said. "The more students graduating from high school with a meaningful diploma, the more students we have ready to go to college or enter the workforce. There is still more work to be done, but this year's graduation rate is an encouraging sign."

Graduation rate must be used as a "second indicator" for all high schools and the bar was raised this year.

In order to make AYP, a high school had to have a graduation rate of 80% or higher, up from 75% last year. If a school did not make that goal, they could use a "second look" which means:
- Having a graduation rate that averaged 80% or higher over the past three years OR
- Having a graduation rate of at least 60% the previous year (2009) and showing a 10% improvement in the rate this year.

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Today's AYP release sheds more light on the need for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - No Child Left Behind. Even though both the Spellings administration and the Duncan administration at the U.S. Department of Education have worked to grant administrative flexibility, it has been insufficient to overcome the original accountability benchmarks established by Congress in 2001.

"As a state, we have no problem moving toward a proficiency rate of 100% - to do anything else would underserve a portion of Georgia's students," said Superintendent Bryant. "We are frustrated over the fact that the original authorization of No Child Left Behind came with the promise that it would be reauthorized in five years with increased flexibility in return for increased accountability. Once again we call upon Congress to act in a manner which supports the hundreds of thousands of teachers and school leaders across the nation who are more focused on student learning than ever before."

SCHOOL and DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS

SCHOOLS THAT CAME OUT OF "NEEDS IMPROVEMENT" STATUS
Pearson Elementary School, Atkinson County
Coretta Scott King Young Womens Leadership Academy, Atlanta Public Schools
The Best Academy at Benjamin S. Carson, Atlanta Public Schools
Eagle Ridge Elementary School, Baldwin County
Jonesville Middle School, Carroll County
Beach High School, Chatham County*
Chattahoochee County Middle School, Chattahoochee County
Barnett Shoals Elementary School, Clarke County
Kendrick Middle School, Clayton County
Mundy's Mill Middle School, Clayton County
Sequoyah Middle School, Clayton County
Swint Elementary School, Clayton County
Cooper Middle School, Cobb County
Griffin Middle School, Cobb County
Smitha Middle School, Cobb County
Arnall Middle School, Coweta County
East Coweta Middle School, Coweta County
Dooly County Elementary School, Dooly County
Glascock County Consolidated School, Glascock County
Risley Early College Academy, Glynn County
Meadowcreek High School, Gwinnett County
Richards Middle School, Gwinnett County
South Hall Middle School, Hall County
Lamar County Elementary School, Lamar County
Marietta 6th Grade School, Marietta City
Herschel Jones Middle School, Paulding County
Cedartown Middle School, Polk County
Van Wert Elementary School, Polk County
Laney High School, Richmond County*
Telfair County Middle School, Telfair County
Carver Elementary School, Terrell County
Terrell Middle School, Terrell County
Southeast Elementary School, Valdosta City
Carver Middle School, Walton County
T.J. Elder Middle School, Washington County

DISTRICTS WHERE ALL SCHOOLS MADE AYP
Bremen City
Buford City
Calhoun City
Calhoun County
Camden County
Chickamauga City
Clay County
Clinch County
Dalton City
Decatur City
Fayette County
Gilmer County
Glascock County
Gordon County
Jeff Davis County
Jefferson City
Lincoln County
Marietta City
Oconee County
Pickens County
Pierce County
Pike County
Rockdale County
Schley County
Seminole County
Towns County
Trion City

SCHOOLS THAT HAVE MADE AYP FOR 12 CONSECUTIVE YEARS
Bacon County Primary School, Bacon County
Berrien Primary School, Berrien County
Bleckley County Primary School, Bleckley County
Waynesboro Primary School, Burke County
Bethune Elementary School, Charlton County
Blackshear Trail Elementary School, Crisp County
J.S. Pate Elementary School, Crisp County
Roan Elementary School, Dalton City
Hightower Elementary School, DeKalb County
Saxon Heights Elementary School, Dublin City
Susie Dasher Elementary School, Dublin City
Swainsboro Primary School, Emanuel County
North Fayette Elementary School, Fayette County
Robert J. Burch Elementary School, Fayette County
Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, Gainesville City
Jasper County Primary School, Jasper County
Maxwell Elementary School, McDuffie County
Thomson Elementary School, McDuffie County
South Mitchell County Elementary School, Mitchell County
Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School, Monroe County
T.G. Scott Elementary School, Monroe County
Oconee County Primary School, Oconee County
Cooper Primary School, Terrell County
Ridge Road Primary School, Washington County
Jack P. Nix Primary School, White County
Washington-Wilkes Primary School, Wilkes County
Worth County Primary School, Worth County

SCHOOLS THAT HAVE MADE AYP FOR 11 CONSECUTIVE YEARS
Appling County Primary School, Appling County
Banks County Primary School, Banks County
Ben Hill County Primary School, Ben Hill County
Lanier Primary School, Bryan County
Mill Creek Elementary School, Bulloch County
Cook Elementary School, Cook County
Cook Primary School, Cook County
Oakcliff Elementary School, DeKalb County
Lamar Reese School of the Arts, Dougherty County
Lindsey Elementary School, Houston County
Perry Primary School, Houston County
Louisville Academy, Jefferson County
Morgan County Primary School, Morgan County
Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, Muscogee County
Pelham Elementary School, Pelham City
Sumter County Primary School, Sumter County
Collins Elementary School, Tattnall County
Unity Elementary School, Troup County
Bacon Elementary School, Wayne County

* This school received a School Improvement Grant. As a result, it is no longer in Needs Improvement status.

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Tech Promise has Largest Incoming Freshman Class

More than 360 students have benefited from the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Scholarship Program.  This fall 71 incoming freshmen representing 36 counties  are participating in the program, comprising the largest incoming class in the program’s history.

Launched in 2007, Tech Promise is designed to help academically qualified Georgia students whose families have an annual income of less than $33,300 (150 percent of the federal poverty level) earn their college degree debt-free.  To date, 93 students have graduated from Georgia Tech with the support of the program.

Picking up where Georgia’s HOPE scholarship and other financial aid options leave off, the program is individually tailored for each applicant. Assistance includes scholarships, grants, and job opportunities that allow eligible in-state students to attend Georgia Tech without the burden of student loan debt.

Jillian Wilms, a junior chemical engineering major from Gainesville, Georgia, believes the program has given her opportunities that she may not have had otherwise.

“I am pretty sure I would not have gone to a major university,” said Wilms.  “I meet the same qualifications as every other student. Tech Promise gives me the opportunity to have the same experience and not worry about money, but focus on my education.”

Wilms is also enhancing her experience on campus by conducting 10-12 hours a week of lab research focused on whether bacterial proteins can inhibit certain receptors on cancer cells as part of a work-study assignment available through Tech Promise.

“Overall, the Tech Promise program has filled a very necessary hole that often was a roadblock to students ultimately deciding to come to Georgia Tech,” said Undergraduate Admission Director Rick Clark.  “The program is giving students, like Jillian, the opportunity to have a cohesive four-year experience at Georgia Tech and remain debt free, bringing in students that may not have necessarily have thought Georgia Tech was an option for them.”

Marie Mons, director, of Scholarships and Financial Aid, says the program plays an important role in keeping students on campus.

“If you study hard and get admitted to Georgia Tech and your family is in a situation where you need the Tech Promise program, then we want to make sure we put together a program that will help students not only get to Tech but to graduate,” said Mons.  “The key to the Tech Promise program is not only recruitment, but also retention.”

According to Mons, those interested in the Tech Promise Scholarship Program must first concentrate on being academically prepared.  She’s hoping that news of the program will inspire middle school and high school students who are interested in Georgia Tech to study hard and work on their academics.  The next step is to apply to Georgia Tech.

An annual application is required for Tech Promise, and individual evaluations are conducted to calculate each candidate’s specific financial needs. Students may reapply for up to four academic years (eight semesters) of full-time enrollment. Levels of support/award in subsequent years are based on the student’s family’s financial situation and academic standing. The funding made available through Tech Promise will cover the published cost of attendance at Georgia Tech.

For more information, visit the Tech Promise website at promise.gatech.edu.


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UGA receives $700,000 National Science Foundation grant to create new Professional Science Master’s program in biomanufacturing; first of its kind at UGA

The University of Georgia has been awarded federal stimulus funding to launch an innovative new program that will help meet the workforce needs of Georgia’s growing biotechnology industry.
The three-year, $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will create a new Professional Science Master’s program in biomanufacturing and bioprocessing that capitalizes on UGA’s academic strengths, facilities and industry ties. Only 21 of 210 universities were selected to receive the highly competitive award.

“The focus of a PSM is different from the traditional undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degree,” said Timothy Davies, co-director of the program at UGA and a research scientist in biochemistry and molecular biology.“It allows individuals to pursue advanced scientific training in a particular sector of industry while developing a strong foundation in business practices. It equips students with the skills that industry requires.”

“This new PSM program is an exciting first at UGA, providing a more direct connection between graduate training and workforce development, in an area of intense need in this country,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “This is a prime example of a new trend in workforce-directed academic/industrial/government partnerships.”

The degree program is awaiting final approval from the University Council Executive Committee and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. It will seek official recognition as a PSM program from the Council of Graduate Schools.

Approximately 200 PSM programs across the U.S. now respond to the national need for a stronger scientific workforce to enhance the nation’s competitiveness, said Davies.

The eight to 10 students in the new program will focus their studies in one of three areas of biomanufacturing—biofuel/biochemical, industrial/environmental or pharmaceutical—in either a large company or small firm setting.

Participating faculty represent UGA’s Terry College of Business, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Bioenergy Systems Research Initiative and Faculty of Engineering. The interdisciplinary nature of PSM faculty “demonstrates the central importance of biomanufacturing to all aspects of biotechnology,” said Davies.

The biomanufacturing training facilities at UGA are unique in the Southeast and state-of-the-art for industry, said Davies.

“Typically, the Bioexpression and Fermentation Facility and its equipment are available only to researchers and industry clients,” he said. “Students trained at UGA’s PSM program could potentially go straight to work at DuPont Danisco’s new biofuel facility in Tennessee or at a veterinary pharmaceutical company like Merial.”

The university’s strong industry links will enhance students’ experiences through seminars and guest lectures, lab-based case studies and internship opportunities. Committed industry partners include Merial; industrial enzyme producer Novozymes; biopharmaceutical firm Inhibitex, Inc.; and technology providers DCI-Biolaffite, Innovative Controls and Smartflow Technologies.

The GeorgiaDepartment of Economic Development’s Centers for Innovation and Georgia Bio, the state’s leading biotechnology trade organization, also have signed on to provide industry contacts and expertise. The Georgia BioBusiness Center, UGA’s own technology incubator, will foster links between students and regional start-up companies.

The NSF funds will be used to support recruitment and fellowships for students in the new master’s program. Additional support for the program is being provided by UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Research, Graduate School, department of biochemistry and molecular biology and Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute, which will serve as the degree program’s administrative home.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Online School Options for Georgia Parents, Students Face Major Setback

/PRNewswire -- Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education raises strong concerns that two approved online high schools were forced to withdrawal due to low and unfair funding from the state. This week both Kaplan Academy of Georgia and Provost Academy Georgia will no longer provide virtual high school curriculum to students.

In 2008, Georgia passed landmark legislation HB881, requiring the Georgia Charter School Commission to provide fair and equitable funding for online public charter schools. The typical student in Georgia receives over $8,000, yet virtual charter schools only receive around $3,500 --among the lowest of any state.

Thousands of public school children are being denied funding despite a law mandating equal treatment. According to the International Association for K12 Online Learning (iNACOL), the national average of funding provided to online public schools is $6,500 per pupil. Still significantly less than the average child receives in brick and mortar schools.

"It is concerning that two new online schools set to provide high-level education to Georgia students are forced to close because the state refuses to uphold a law providing equal funding for virtual schools," said Rene Lord, Chairman of the Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education. "Experts and national studies all say funding for virtual schools should be at or near the national average. The Commission has failed the children by its disregard for their education and future."

The unenforced law creates a serious lack of options for parents and children. Currently, Odyssey School operated by Georgia Cyber Academy, is the only statewide virtual charter school alternative for kindergarten through middle school students and their parents.

Odyssey teaches around 6,000 students and is the largest public school (brick and mortar or virtual charter) in Georgia. The Academy is also looking to add ninth grade in August with approximately 600 new students. Odyssey continues to make significant gains in student achievement, outperforming Georgia state (brick and mortar school) averages.

Virtual charter schools are statewide, full-time public schools that employ state-certified public school teachers to oversee and guide students' work. Under this program students are able to work at home via computer and internet connection under the guidance of a parent or responsible adult.

Accountability requirements are the same for virtual charters as every public school in the state. Students participate in state assessment tests and are required to meet attendance protocol. The school uses an established curriculum that consists of thousands of lessons in the typical core subjects that align with state standards and all of the teachers are also publicly certified.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Economic Impact of University System Reaches $12.7 Billion

A newly released report states that Georgia’s public university system made a $12.7 billion economic impact on the state’s economy during Fiscal Year 2009, continuing its record of growing contributions to the state’s economic prosperity. The 35 institutions of the University System of Georgia (USG) generated nearly three percent of the state’s total jobs during that time.

The Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business analyzed data collected between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, to calculate the University System’s FY2009 economic impact. This work updates similar studies conducted on behalf of The Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP), an initiative of the Board of Regents’ Office of Economic Development. The previous report, based on FY2008 data, placed the USG’s economic impact at $12.1 billion. The first study in the series calculated the USG’s impact at $7.7 billion in FY1999. The latest $12.7 billion thus is a $5 billion increase since FY1999 – or a growth of 65 percent in the system’s economic impact on Georgia’s communities.

“A college or university improves the skills of its graduates, which increases their lifetime earnings. Local businesses benefit from easy access to a large pool of part-time and full-time workers,” said study author Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of economic forecasting for the Selig Center. “In addition, for each job created on a campus, there are 1.6 jobs that exist off-campus because of spending related to the college or university. In these ways, and many more, the University System plays a critical role in Georgia’s economic recovery.”

The study found that Georgia’s public higher education system generated 112,336 full- and part-time jobs – 2.8 percent of all the jobs in the state in FY2009. Most of those jobs – 62 percent of them – are off-campus positions in the private or public sectors that exist because of the presence in the community of USG institutions. The remainder (38 percent) are jobs on campus.

Most of the $12.7 billion in total economic impact was due to initial spending by USG institutions for salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses, and other budgeted expenditures, as well as spending by the students who attended the institutions in FY2009. (Initial spending by USG institutions equaled $8.4 billion, or 66 percent of the total.) The remaining $4.3 billion (34 percent) in economic impact was created by re-spending – the multiplier effect of those dollars as they are spent again in the region. For every dollar of initial spending in a community by a University System institution, researchers found that, on average, an additional 51 cents was generated for the local economy hosting a college or university.

The report quantifies the significant contributions that each of Georgia’s 35 public colleges and universities makes to the economy of the community where it is located. The University System’s largest institution – the University of Georgia (UGA) with 34,885 students – has the single greatest economic impact: $2.2 billion on the Athens-area economy, or 17 percent of the System’s total statewide economic impact.

Eight institutions in the metro Atlanta area – Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Clayton State University, Kennesaw State University, Southern Polytechnic State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College – accounted for $5.3 billion of the University System’s $12.7 billion total, and 42,434 jobs.

The study shows that the System’s two regional universities are significant economic players in their host communities. Georgia Southern University had an impact of $526 million on the local economy and an employment impact of 5,935 jobs, while Valdosta State University’s economic impact was $340 million with 3,391 jobs.

In north Georgia, the combined economic impact of North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College was $367 million with an employment impact of 3,452 jobs.

The Augusta area receives a substantial economic benefit from the presence of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and Augusta State University. Together, these two institutions have a $1.2 billion economic impact on the Augusta economy and produce 11,176 jobs.

The economic impact of two USG institutions in the Savannah area is significant. Together, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Savannah State University pumped $352 million into the Savannah economy and the two institutions produce more than 3,332 jobs.

Fort Valley State University, Georgia College & State University, Middle Georgia College, and Macon State College combine to have an economic impact of $630 million and contribute 6,311 jobs to middle Georgia.

The University of West Georgia and Columbus State University have a combined economic impact of $599 million and contribute 5,813 jobs to the west Georgia region.

“Companies and agencies that depend on highly specialized skills often cluster around universities. This is especially true for the knowledge-based companies that are expected to grow faster than the economy in general,” said Terry Durden, assistant vice chancellor of the University System’s Office of Economic Development.

This is the first year that the study documents the economic impact of two new clinical campuses that the Medical College of Georgia is opening in Albany and Savannah. Although the initial economic impacts are quite small, they will grow rapidly once students are enrolled at these MCG branch campuses. The combined economic impact of these two new campuses is $662,385, with seven jobs.

The Selig Center’s research has its limitations – it neither quantifies the many long-term benefits that a higher-education institution and its outreach and service units impart to its host community’s economic development nor does it measure intangible benefits, such as cultural opportunities, intellectual stimulation and volunteer work, to local residents. Spending by USG retirees who still live in the host communities and by visitors to USG institutions (such as those attending conferences or athletic events) is not measured, nor are additional sources of income for USG employees, such as consulting work, personal business activities and inheritances.

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Sallie Mae Helps 2 Million Customers Avoid Student Loan Default

(BUSINESS WIRE)--During the last 12 months, Sallie Mae helped more than 2 million customers resolve their past-due accounts and avoid default on $38 billion in federal and private student loans. In addition, Sallie Mae celebrated 422,000 customers as they successfully paid their student loans in full over the past year.

“If you keep in contact with the people you owe and show them that you’re making a concerted effort to live up to your responsibilities, it’s more likely they will take the time to understand your situation and work with you to develop a plan”

Sallie Mae’s college planning tools, continuous communication with customers, and loan default prevention programs are critical elements toward helping customers preserve their good credit and access lower-cost credit in the future, taxpayers save dollars on federally guaranteed student loans, and colleges retain their eligibility for federal financial aid for students.

Lee Ann and Joshua R. of Pocahontas, Ark., are examples of how Sallie Mae helps customers successfully manage their student loans. As the young couple had their first child and established a career in business, there were several occasions when they fell behind on Joshua’s student loan payments. A Sallie Mae default prevention specialist reached out, providing information and counseling on payment options that helped them stay current. Last year, they paid the remaining balance on Joshua’s student loans. The experience taught them serious life lessons about money management—lessons they will carry with them when they eventually take over the reins of the family’s third-generation furniture business. “We are nearly debt free now,” Lee Ann says. “And nothing could feel better.”

For 24-year-old Lauren J., student loans served as an invaluable stepping stone in helping her get one step closer to a career in the culinary arts. After graduating from Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, Pa., Lauren’s dream was temporarily deferred courtesy of a tough job market and a depressed local economy. Lauren was contacted by Sallie Mae, and offered a temporary repayment solution to help with her financial issues and steer her back on a successful repayment track. She has since paid off her student loans in full. Lauren’s advice for others who may find themselves facing repayment difficulties with their student loans is simple: “If you keep in contact with the people you owe and show them that you’re making a concerted effort to live up to your responsibilities, it’s more likely they will take the time to understand your situation and work with you to develop a plan,” she says.

Sallie Mae’s default prevention efforts begin before loans are even made through the tools the company offers to help families borrow responsibly and build a plan to pay for college. During college and after graduation, the company also provides students with financial literacy communications and information on payment options.

The severe and lasting impacts of loan default may include damage to the customer’s credit, job prospects, denial or loss of professional licenses, the possibility of civil litigation, and the possibility of being denied other forms of consumer credit for years to come. On federally guaranteed student loans, the Department of Education also takes remedies to recover funds through wage garnishment, the seizure of income tax refunds and federal benefit payments, or the loss of eligibility for additional federal student aid. That is why Sallie Mae continues to assist federal student loan customers even if they default to help get their account back in good standing. This extra effort helps 14 percent of defaulted federal student loan customers reestablish a clean credit report.

“By far, the best way to avoid default is to stay in regular contact with your lender. Sallie Mae has a multitude of resources and options to help our customers successfully manage their loans,” said Brianna Fears, a default prevention specialist at Sallie Mae. “We understand that the tough economy and other unforeseen circumstances can make it difficult for some of our customers and we’re prepared to help.”

Sallie Mae also offers its customers options to pay off early whenever possible by making interest payments while in school and offering programs such as Upromise that enable families to earn extra money to apply toward student loans. Vanessa H. of Long Beach, Calif., is one such customer. An alumna of University of Southern California and CSU Long Beach, now a training manager at a public accounting firm, she paid extra on her student loan whenever she could, joined Upromise, and put off buying a new car. “I saved myself thousands of dollars in interest, over six years in payments, and earned an incredible sense of achievement that I was able to set a goal and see it to the finish,” she said.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clayton State Fall Application Admission Deadline is Tomorrow

Thursday, July 15, 2010, is the deadline for applications and all documents (including transcripts, test scores, etc.) for new students’ admission to Clayton State University for the fall 2010 semester, which starts on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010.

Individuals who have not completed their applications or who have questions pertaining to the admissions process should call the Clayton State Office of Recruitment and Admissions at (678) 466-4115.

Note that the deadline for application for returning students for fall 2010 is Aug. 1, 2010. A returning student is defined as a student who previously attended Clayton State and has not enrolled in classes within the last three semesters. Questions on returning students should be addressed to the Registar's Office at (678) 466-4145.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

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Voters Want Federal Action on High School Reform, According to New National Poll

/PRNewswire/ -- Improving the quality of public high schools through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a voting issue for over eight in ten voters, according to a new national poll released today by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Additionally, over half of voters say that their decision to vote for a current elected official in the 2010 congressional elections will be affected if Congress takes no action to reform the law currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

"The Alliance commissioned this bipartisan poll to gain insight into Americans' views of the public education system," said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. "The overwhelming takeaway from the poll is that Americans are concerned about the growing problems with the nation's high schools and they want President Obama and the Congress to act--this year--to improve them."

According to the poll, voters see a clear connection between the nation's ability to educate its students and its ability to compete, but believe that the nation's public high schools currently do a poor job of preparing students for success. For example, two thirds of voters believe that a high dropout rate has a lot of impact on the nation's economy (69 percent) and America's ability to compete in the global economy (65 percent). However, nearly seven in ten voters (69 percent) say that a diploma from America's public high schools does not prepare graduates to get a good-paying job, while less than half of voters believe that a high school diploma prepares graduates to succeed in college.

"The poor state of the economy has gotten most of the headlines going into the congressional election cycle, but, as our poll shows, voters are keenly aware of how a poor education system hampers the economy's ability to operate at full speed," said Wise.

According to the poll, voters want President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the nation's governors to pay more attention to the nation's public high schools. Nearly half of voters (49 percent) think President Obama is not paying enough attention to public high schools while majorities of voters say that Republicans in Congress (62 percent) and Democrats in Congress (58 percent) are not paying enough attention to the state of public high schools in the United States.

"The belief that the president and the Congress are not paying enough attention to the nation's public high schools crosses party lines," said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, one of the firms that conducted the poll. "This finding is significant during a time when large segments of the voting public are polarized going into the congressional elections."

One way the federal government could act to improve high schools is through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Overall, more than half (52 percent) of the nation's voters believe NCLB has done a fair or poor job for public schools in their community. The demand for change to NCLB is much clearer, with over three quarters of voters wanting Congress to change NCLB to improve the quality of public high schools this year. Only 11 percent believe it should stay the way it is now.

"NCLB was groundbreaking when it was signed into law," said Wise. "But almost ten years later it's a compact disc in an iPod world--useful but in desperate need of an upgrade. By reauthorizing ESEA, the Congress can address the aspects of NCLB that time, experience, and research have shown need to be significantly improved or updated while doing more to help ensure that every student graduates from high school prepared for college and a career."

According to the poll, voters overwhelmingly agree, with nearly eight in ten saying it is personally important to them that Congress change ESEA to improve the quality of public high schools and three quarters (74 percent) saying that it is important for Congress to act this year.

"Incumbents and challengers alike have been looking for an issue that speaks to both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming congressional elections," said Christine Matthews, president of Bellwether Research and Consulting. "This poll finds that solid majorities of Democrats (86 percent), Republicans (70 percent), and Independents (69 percent) say it is personally important to them for Congress to change ESEA to improve public high schools."

Voters are clear that bipartisanship is important but should not hold up ESEA reauthorization. In fact, two thirds of voters (66 percent) would be more likely to support a candidate who calls for Democrats and Republicans to work together, but add that passage of ESEA should not be delayed if both parties cannot reach agreement.

"As congressional incumbents head into the final months of their session as well as heated elections, this poll shows that the public will reward them for action while many will punish them for inaction," said Wise.

Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research and Consulting designed and administered this survey in a bipartisan manner for the Alliance for Excellent Education. The survey was conducted via telephone by professional interviewers and reached a total of one thousand likely voters nationwide. The survey was conducted June 15-23, 2010.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Sallie Mae Forms Partnership to Offer Innovative Private Education Loan to NEA Members

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sallie Mae has formed a new partnership with the National Education Association’s Member Benefits (NEA MB) Corporation to offer members of the nation’s largest educators union and their families the Smart Option Student Loan, an innovative private loan that helps families save money and pay off student loans faster.

“It is our mission to provide members access to programs and products that help make their personal and professional lives easier,” said Gary Phoebus, president and CEO of NEA Member Benefits. “With the increasing costs of postsecondary education, it became very important for us to find a partner that can help our members pay for postsecondary education. With the Smart Option Student Loan, we have secured low interest rates and helped ensure families and students incur less debt.”

Since its founding in 1966 to serve the members of NEA, now numbering 3.2 million educators, NEA Member Benefits is dedicated to making the personal and professional lives of members better through “best in class” programs and services. NEA MB selected Sallie Mae to assist its members and their family members who need supplemental funding for college or graduate school. With market-leading rates, the Smart Option Student Loan features interest payments while in school and a shorter payment term, enabling undergraduates and graduates to complete their degrees with less debt, save money in interest charges, and pay off their loans an average of five to eight years faster compared to a standard 15-year, payment-deferred private education loan.

“NEA members know first-hand the value of education, and Sallie Mae is here to help make those dreams a reality,” said Joe DePaulo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sallie Mae. “This new model of private education loan empowers families to pay a little now and save a lot later. It’s the smart, educated choice.”

For more details about the Smart Option Student Loan in partnership with NEA, please visit www.SallieMae.com/NEA.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

State Board of Education Adopts Common Core State Standards‏

The State Board of Education yesterday adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These state-led academic standards were initiated by the National Governor's Association (NGA), co-chaired by Governor Sonny Perdue, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The CCSS for grades K-12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents.

“The State Board's vote to adopt the Common Core State Standards is a huge step toward giving us a meaningful comparison of our students’ achievement with that of students in other states," said State Board of Education Chair Wanda Barrs. "Our students will be competing for jobs with students from all over the world and we must be able to compare ourselves to the rest of the U.S. and other countries to ensure that we are providing students with the tools they need to be globally competitive."

The CCSS is a state-led initiative - not a federal mandate. Georgia teachers and other experts in standards setting have been at the table since the process began. When the expert development groups that the CCSSO and NGA pulled together began writing the standards in mathematics and English language arts, they built off of the work of states that had already developed rigorous college- and career-ready standards. Georgia was one of these select states, and when reading the CCSS, it is clear that there are many elements of the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) throughout. Therefore, the adoption of the CCSS in Georgia will not be a drastic change for either teachers or students. Some of the standards are introduced at different grade levels, but teachers have, essentially, been implementing the CCSS while they’ve been teaching the GPS.

"Georgia has been ahead of the curve in the development of rigorous standards," said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. "The Common Core standards enhance the Georgia Performance Standards and ensure that all of our students will be taught a world-class curriculum that will prepare them for college or a career."

The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers. The standards are:

  • Aligned with college and work expectations;
  • Clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Built upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
  • Informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
  • Evidence- and research-based.
"Today's students must be prepared to compete in a global economy," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "These state developed standards make sure that our students are prepared for college and the workforce."


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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clayton State Graduate Studies Open House, July 13

Information Now Available on Master of Science in Psychology

The Clayton State University School of Graduate Studies next open house will be held on Tuesday, July 13. The open house will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 101 of the University’s Harry S. Downs Center on the main campus in Morrow.

The Clayton State School of Graduate Studies typically holds open houses on the second Tuesday evening of each month. This month’s open house will provide information on the newest Clayton State graduate program, the Master of Science in Psychology, in addition to giving prospective graduate students the chance to learn more about the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, Master of Business Administration (which now has cohorts meeting in Peachtree City and Conyers, in addition to the Clayton State campus), Master of Health Administration, Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Archival Studies.

For more information on the open house, including application information for Clayton State’s eight masters programs, call (678) 466-4113, or email graduate@clayton.edu or go to the School of Graduate Studies website, http://graduate.clayton.edu/.

The mission of graduate education at Clayton State is to stimulate, encourage and support efforts that build national distinction and that are characterized by innovation and by increasing contribution to the social, cultural, economic, health and technological development needs of Georgia and the nation. The University is committed to excellence, innovation and collaboration in research and in the preparation of professionals for the highest levels of practice.

Graduate education prepares: scholars in the arts, humanities, and the sciences who maintain and advance our understanding of the human condition; scientists, engineers, and other professionals needed by industry, government, and universities to conduct the nation's research and development; and scholars in all disciplines who become the faculties of our colleges and universities.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Georgia Southern University Works to Introduce Engineering to Schools around the U.S.

Georgia Southern University is working to bring engineering education to middle and high schools around the country, and a major part of that effort will take place this week at a summer institute for teachers.

Georgia Southern is hosting Project Lead the Way, which is a national effort to equip middle and high school teachers with the information and skills they need to incorporate engineering into their curriculum. Teachers from around Georgia and the U.S. will spend two weeks at the University participating in hands-on lessons and activities they can take back to their classrooms.

"This is an incredible opportunity for teachers and for their students," said Georgia Southern Mechanical and Electrical Engineering associate professor and Project Lead the Way affiliate director Aniruddha Mitra, Ph.D. "Project Lead the Way focuses on helping teachers really engage their students in engineering studies. The lessons the teachers will learn here and then take back to the classroom will be an important and valuable foundation for students who want to pursue engineering-related careers."

A major goal of Project Lead the Way is to boost both the number of students and diversity of students who pursue engineering degrees and careers. Georgia Southern University became a Project Lead the Way affiliate in 2006, and hosted its first summer institute a year later. In addition to the summer institutes, the University has also hosted events for guidance counselors. The University also handles certifications for Georgia schools participating in the Project Lead the Way program.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

College-Bound Students Take Note: July 1 Brings New, Lower Student Loan Interest Rates

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Here’s news that 19 million people signing up for college classes this fall may want to hear: if you’re considering student loans to help foot the tuition bill, you may qualify for lower interest rates.

For the 2010-2011 academic year, rates on need-based federal Stafford student loans will decline from 5.6 percent to 4.5 percent, says Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving, planning and paying for college company. As a result, if you borrow $5,500 and pay off in the standard 10 years after graduation, you can save an estimated $350—enough for a semester’s worth of books or a month’s car payment. Rates on non-need-based federal Stafford loans remain 6.8 percent.

To qualify for federal student loans, you must first fill out the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA.

Keep in mind that the maximum amount you can borrow in federal Stafford loans varies between $5,500 and $7,500 for undergraduate students, depending on your year in college. To qualify, you also need to attend school at least half-time. Another change beginning July 1: federal Stafford loans will come directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan also has lower interest rates for upcoming academic year, ranging between 2.88 percent and 10.25 percent for degree- seeking students, based on today’s LIBOR index. A customer’s actual interest rate depends on credit history and whether a cosigner applies, among other factors and will reset periodically based upon future changes in the LIBOR index. In addition, the company recently eliminated disbursement fees and added an on-time payment award. This private loan from Sallie Mae is available to help you fill the gap between the school’s cost of attendance and your other financial aid.

With Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan, students pay interest while in school, graduate with less debt, and pay off their loans faster, saving more than 50 percent in finance charges over the life of their loan. A typical freshman borrowing $10,000 makes payments of principal and interest for only seven years after graduation rather than 15 years. The customer saves approximately $8,800—compared to other private student loan alternatives in which no payments are made until after graduation. For more information, visit www.SallieMae.com/loansmart.

Sallie Mae advises families to follow the 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first maximize scholarships and grants, along with savings and income. Second, explore federal student loans. Third, fill any gap with a pay-interest-as-you-go private education loan.

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Sallie Mae Launches New Private Loan In-School Payment Option

(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the price of two pizzas or less than a dollar a day each month, college students can keep their student loan interest in check and ultimately save an estimated 30 percent in interest charges. Now available with a new, $25-per-month, in-school payment plan, Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan is designed not only to save students money, but also to help them pay off their loans faster. Sallie Mae is the nation’s leading saving, planning and paying for college company.

“To encourage responsible borrowing, we make our most competitive rates available to those who keep up with their interest payments while in school”

For a typical freshman, a simple $25 monthly payment while in school and a shorter repayment period after school can translate into $6,300 of interest savings over the life of the loan, compared to private education loans that capitalize—that is, add to the loan balance—all of the interest that accrues during school. In addition, a typical customer would pay off the loan in 10 years after graduation, instead of the standard 15-year-term offered by other deferred payment private student loans. Additional details are available in this savings example.

“To encourage responsible borrowing, we make our most competitive rates available to those who keep up with their interest payments while in school,” said Joe DePaulo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sallie Mae. “We also recognize that, for some students, the option to pay some interest and defer the rest fits their budget now and saves them lots of money in the long run.”

Introduced in March 2009, Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan is one of the first loans of its kind to help save college students money by requiring interest payments while in school and shortening the repayment term. The company designed the $25 payment plan to make it easier for families who understand the benefits of making in-school payments but want a standard, fixed monthly payment amount. Sallie Mae has also introduced benefits such as an on-time payment reward and faster cosigner release.

Whether students attending degree-granting institutions elect monthly in-school payments of $25 per month or elect monthly full interest payments, they will benefit this year from Sallie Mae’s lower interest rates and zero disbursement fees. Based on today’s LIBOR index of 0.375, undergraduate and graduate student rates for the $25 per month payment option range between 3.85 percent and 10.48 percent; rates for the full interest payment option range between 2.87 percent and 10.21 percent.

Over the summer, the company is inviting students to tweet about how they plan to make the Smart Option Student Loan work for them for a chance to win $500. The public is invited to vote every week to pick finalists and then each month to select a grand prize winner for June, July and August.

Sallie Mae recommends private student loans to help bridge the college financing gap after exploring scholarships, grants and federal student loans. For more information, visit www.SallieMae.com/loansmart.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Qualcomm Establishes Augmented Reality Game Studio at Georgia Tech

PRNewswire-- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) has joined forces with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to establish the Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio, a research and design center aimed at pioneering new advancements in mobile gaming and interactive media. Located on Georgia Tech's Atlanta campus, the game studio will build upon Qualcomm's newly announced augmented reality platform and related graphics technologies to produce new application concepts and prototypes.

"Georgia Tech continues to be at the forefront of augmented reality innovation," said Matt Grob, senior vice president of engineering and head of corporate research and development at Qualcomm. "For more than 12 years, the university's Augmented Environments Lab has been researching ways to enhance a user's senses by creating interactive computing environments. Now, with Qualcomm's new augmented reality platform, we are working together to further advance the user experience by extending virtual gaming experiences into the real world."

The Qualcomm Augmented Reality Game Studio will be led by acclaimed augmented reality researcher and Associate Professor of Interactive Computing Dr. Blair MacIntyre, director of Georgia Tech's Augmented Environments Lab. The lab is part of Georgia Tech's GVU Center, a world-renowned research center that brings together students and faculty from across the university to study problems at the intersection of people and technology. In collaboration with students and faculty from the Savannah College of Art and Design, MacIntyre will combine the skills and creative insight of students with expertise in augmented reality technology, game development and the arts.

"Powerful processors and sophisticated graphics engines in today's mobile devices have only recently reached the point where they can meet the computing requirements for augmented reality," said MacIntyre. "By collaborating with Qualcomm, we'll have access to both the high-end hardware and core augmented reality technology that will enable us to push the envelope in game development. We are very excited to work with Qualcomm as we explore new frontiers in augmented reality gaming."

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Brad Bryant Becomes Georgia's 20th State School Superintendent‏

Brad Bryant  was sworn into office as Georgia’s 20th State School Superintendent on July 1. Previously a member of the State Board of Education, Superintendent Bryant was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in June to fill the unexpired term of Superintendent Kathy Cox who resigned to head the U.S. Education Delivery Institute in Washington, D.C.

“It’s an honor and privilege to serve as State School Superintendent,” said Superintendent Bryant. “As a parent who had children in public schools and whose wife continues to work in one, I know the challenges we face and how important a quality education is to our state’s future. I will hit the ground running to ensure we provide the foundation that positively benefits our students, teachers and communities.”

“Brad's experience as a parent, local school board member and state school board member makes him uniquely qualified to help lead our state's education system. He is committed to supporting our superintendents, principals and teachers as they work every day to help our students reach new levels of achievement.”

Prior to his appointment as State School Superintendent, Bryant served seven years as the 4th District representative on the State Board of Education. He is the past President of the National Association of State Boards of Education. Bryant also worked as a Special Liaison to the Clayton County and Warren County school systems to help them regain their accreditation. Bryant served on the DeKalb County Board of Education for twelve years, including seven years as its Chair.


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