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New Teacher Preparation Program Returns Spelman College to Its Roots and Builds on Recent Accomplishments Share a Spelman College Press Release

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: 
Mashaun D. Simon
Spelman College
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Spring2018RoundupATLANTA (August 17, 2018) - As Spelman College rolls out the blue carpet for hundreds of first-year and transfer students this fall, the Education Department is welcoming college graduates for its Teacher Certification Preparation Program.

The teacher certification preparation in education adds a signature academic program at Spelman, which has a rich legacy of producing education leaders.

“Teacher training is one of the oldest major options on campus and has remained a consistent presence on campus since 1892,” said Andrea Lewis, Ph.D., C’96, associate professor and chair of the Education Department. “The United States is experiencing a decline in the number of Black teachers in districts across the nation. Given the shortage of Black teachers, the program will add quality teachers to classrooms across America.”

The yearlong program, open to college graduates from Spelman and other institutions, will offer teacher certification in English, chemistry, history, mathematics, physics or political science for grades 6 through 12, and in Spanish or music for prekindergarten through 12th grade.

"Before mid-century, rapid demographic change will transform our country into a majority-minority world leader. Against that backdrop, Spelman has a unique role to play in helping to increase the number of K-12 teachers who look like the American children they will teach," said Sharon Davies, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Just as Spelman leads the nation in its production of Black women moving into the STEM fields and pursuing advanced study in law and medicine, so too will its new Teacher Certificate Preparation Program produce a pool of culturally competent educators prepared to nurture the learning of the nation's most valuable asset — its children."

The new teacher certification program is one of several innovative programs and partnerships at Spelman to prepare educators who excel in the classroom and the community.

Last week, seven Spelman seniors and one Morehouse College senior joined Fulton County Schools’ teachers and staff to greet students on the first day of school. They are among participants in the county’s First Step Student Teaching Program, a paid yearlong experience to recruit and develop top teacher candidates for future employment with the district. Marsha Francis, Ph.D., C’2006, is the facilitator for First Step and the program specialist in talent management for Fulton County Schools.

Spelman students also are completing field and clinical experiences in other metro area school districts and charter schools, including Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Decatur City Schools, Atlanta International School, Wesley International School, Drew Charter School, KIPP Schools, Kindezi Schools, Fulton Leadership Academy and the YMCA of Atlanta.

“The variety of our school placements provide our teacher candidates with the opportunity to teach and interact with diverse children and families throughout the metropolitan area,” said Dr. Lewis.

The Education Department programs build upon accomplishments recently achieved by the College. With the launch of new initiatives in that promote global studies, community engagement, innovation and entrepreneurship, the College continued to make progress toward achieving goals in the Spelman College Strategic Plan 2022.

Here is an overview of recent accomplishments and accolades. 



During the spring, Spelman faculty, staff and students continued to introduce new programs that align with the College’s commitment to ensure that graduates are ready to succeed in a rapidly changing global workplace. These initiatives support the strategic plan theme “Deliver the Spelman Promise,” which consists of ensuring that every student graduates with a competitive edge and creating a robust high school-to-college talent pipeline. 

Spelpreneur Pitch Night Debuts: On Feb. 28, Spelpreneur hosted its first Pitch Night, the culminating event of an intensive 10-day startup challenge in which participants learned to develop and implement new startup concepts. The top three winning teams were awarded educational stipends. The grand prizewinner InHous, developed by a four-student team, offers a technology-based program to colleges and universities for use in alumnae giving and other fundraising efforts. 

SpelBots Mentor Students at Inaugural Hack-a-Bot: Seven SpelBots team members, supported by 10 Morehouse College students, hosted Spelman’s first Hack-a-Bot competition on April 14 in the SpelBots Lab. During the Hack-a-Bot, 22 elementary and middle school children from metropolitan Atlanta schools and homeschool communities participated in workshops on algorithm development, robot programming and robotics-based solutions. Jaye Nias, Ph.D., assistant professor, computer and information sciences, created the event to provide under-represented children a setting where they could experience cutting-edge technology and be inspired to study STEM. 

Innovation Lab Team Designs App to Prevent Sexual Violence: Spelman Innovation Lab Assistant Director Jessica Anderson and three students designed Safer, a mobile app that offers users a discreet way to ask for help in unsafe situations. Users of Safer notify other users within relative close proximity with a distress broadcast signal. If no one responds after three distress broadcast signals, 911 is alerted with a GPS location. Anderson, psychology major Kirsten Bray, C’2018, and computer science majors Amirah Husbands, C’2019, and Thulani Vereen, C’2020, presented Safer at the HBCU Making & Innovation Showcase, in Washington, D.C., in February. 

First Lit Week Draws Faculty, Students and Writers: The Department of English sponsored its first “Lit Week” in March. The week featured Pushcart Prize winning poet Kamilah Aisha Moon, who led a workshop for student writers, gave a public poetry reading and held a book signing. Other events included a film screening followed by a discussion, social justice advocacy, a Sigma Tau Delta induction ceremony and “Students' Poetry Open Mic.” 

Spelman Dancers Use Movement-Tracking Software in Performance: In March, the Spelman Dance Theatre premiered “Meet Me on the Porch” on the front porches of three South Gordon Street residences in Atlanta’s West End community. The innovative performance featured movement-tracking software that triggered and amplified sound in real time as the dancers moved. Directed by T. Lang, chair of the Department of Dance Performance and Choreography, “Meet Me on the Porch” examined the dynamics of gentrification with a focus on displacement and shifting communities on South Gordon Street.


study abroadSpelman has been recognized for its emphasis on international education, which supports strategic plan theme “Deliver the Spelman Promise” to ensure that every Spelman student graduates with a competitive edge. 

Spelman Produces Three Fulbright Scholars: Three recent Spelman graduates will teach English overseas during the 2018-2019 academic year as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Taylor Hall-Debnam, C’2018, political science major and comparative women’s studies minor, will teach in Malaysia. Eniola Sodeke, C’2018, international studies major, will complete the Fulbright program in South Korea. Kayla Evans, C’2018, international studies major, will work in Colombia. 

English Major Awarded Prestigious Scholarship to Study Abroad: Kyana Washington, C’2020, has been selected as the English in Action 2018-2019 Luard Morse Scholarship recipient. Washington will receive up to $25,000 toward a semester of study at a university in the United Kingdom during the 2018-2019 academic year. The English major plans to apply feminist theory to study Victorian literature and analyze the attitudes held toward women and the attitudes that women held during this period. 

Recognition for Advancing Diversity in International Education: Spelman College is a recipient of Diversity Abroad’s 2018 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education Award. Award recipients are selected for demonstrating a commitment to advancing diversity and inclusive excellence within international education on an individual, institutional and organizational level. Through Spelman’s Going Global initiative, student participation in study abroad grew from 218 to 441, increasing 102 percent in the last six years. 

Spelman Recognized as a Top-Producing Institution of Gilman Scholars: Spelman was named a No. 1 institution on the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural list of colleges and universities sending students to study abroad with the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Spelman produced 20 Gilman Scholars in 2016-2017 and is ranked first on the list for Top Small Colleges and Universities with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates. Spelman is also recognized as No.1 in having first-generation, racial and ethnic minorities to study abroad, and in the total number of destinations.


muralSpelman students are active in the Atlanta community and are leaders in promoting social justice causes locally and abroad. These outreach activities support the strategic plan theme “Promote Academic Innovation,” which includes support for scholarships and creative excellence and integrating living, learning, community engagement and leadership opportunities.

First Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholarship Recipients: Chablise Davis, C’2020, and Cylantra Dees, C’2020, are the first recipients of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholarship. The students were selected for their scholarly achievements and ability to emerge as courageous leaders at Spelman and in the LGBTQ community. Davis, a psychology major, and Dees, a comparative women’s studies major, will each receive renewable $25,000 scholarships. 

Student’s Work in Social Change Earns Fellowship: Eva Dickerson, C’2019, was named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow on March 6. The fellowship provides training and resources that nurture students’ assets and passion to develop strategies for social change. Dickerson, an economics and comparative women’s studies double major and Bonner Scholar, will spend the next year continuing to expand her work to connect Spelman and its resources to Atlanta’s Westside community. 

Sociology Professor Awarded $200,000 Grant to Expand Social Justice Program: Cynthia Neal Spence, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and UNCF/Mellon programs director, was awarded a $200,000 grant from The Commerce Club Foundation to support the Spelman College Social Justice Fellows Program. The grant will help to expand the Social Justice Program’s community dialogue circles focusing on the theme "Rituals of Citizenship," and provide greater support for other special initiatives. Social Justice Fellows engage in social justice advocacy and learn how to effect change socially, politically and legally on a global scale. 

Spelman Joins New United Nations Regional Sustainability Network: The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) has officially acknowledged Spelman College, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology as a new regional sustainability network, Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development Greater Atlanta. This designation makes Atlanta one of only six Regional Centres of Expertise in the United States.


stemSpelman has a strong record of educating African-American women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. About 25 percent of graduates receive degrees in STEM disciplines. The College also has been recognized as a top undergraduate institution of origin for Black Ph.Ds. in STEM and the No. 1 producer of Black women who earn STEM Ph.D.s. The College’s STEM initiatives, which also promote faculty-mentored undergraduate research, support the strategic plan theme “Deliver the Spelman Promise,” which includes preparing students for life and career through curricular and co-curricular activities. 

Student Researcher’s Accomplishments Recognized with Prestigious Scholarship Award: Gabrielle Price, C’2019, is a recipient of a 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to outstanding students studying natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. She is one of only 211 scholarship recipients selected from a pool of 1,200 applicants. The fourth Spelman Goldwater Scholar, Price is conducting research with Emory University School of Medicine on medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children. The biology major begins work on a master's degree at the University of Oxford in August and will begin medical school in fall 2019. 

Celebrating 40 Years of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Spelman: In April, Spelman celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the Science Center NASA Auditorium. Krishna Forster, Ph.D., C'92, professor, Department of Chemistry, California State University - Los Angeles, delivered the keynote address, "Chemistry of a Spelman Woman." Her address was followed by the alumnae panel discussion, "Pathways to Chemistry Careers." The event concluded with the presentation of Gladys S. Bayse Memorial Academic Scholarship Awards to students. As of 2017, approximately 330 students have graduated from the College’s chemistry and biochemistry programs, and many have pursued advanced degrees. Nearly 100 alumnae have obtained Ph.Ds.


beverly-guy-sheftallWith its reputation as a STEM powerhouse and a leading institution in preparing Spelman women to be global leaders, the College continues to gain recognition for achievements by faculty, staff and students. Spelman attracted a record-breaking 9,448 applications for fall 2018 first-year admission – the most in its 137-year history. These achievements support the strategic plan theme “Elevate the Spelman Difference,” which consists of leveraging expertise to promote institutional investment and anchoring the Spelman narrative in educational excellence and teaching and learning expertise. 

Psychology Professor Awarded Grant to Develop Health App for Black Americans: Natalie Watson-Singleton, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, received a one-year subaward of $246,443 through a Small Business Innovation Research grant with IRIS Educational Media from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to develop a mobile health app tailored to the cultural values of African Americans to encourage accessibility of the health solution and frequency of its use.

Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall Named to National Board, Honored with Diversity Award: The National Women’s History Museum has named Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D., C'66, to its board of directors. As a member of the board, Dr. Guy-Sheftall, the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and founding director of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center, will lend her expertise to NWHM’s mission to highlight the contributions of women who shaped American history. In addition, the American Association of Access, Equity and Diversity honored Dr. Guy-Sheftall with the Arthur A. Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award in June. The award recognizes her lifetime commitment to promoting and advocating for diversity and equity. 

Spelman Recognized as a Peace Corps 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing School: Spelman College moves up from No. 7 to No. 4 among small schools on the Peace Corps 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. This is the second year Spelman has been ranked as a top producing small school. There are 14 Spelman alumnae currently volunteering with the Peace Corps worldwide. The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body.


scholarshipsThe College’s strong track record of successful student outcomes continues to attract investments in Spelman students and academic programs. This supports the strategic plan theme “Elevate the Spelman Difference” to leverage expertise to promote institutional investment and expand the number of strategic partnerships. 

$5 Million Gift to Fund Student Scholarships: Spelman received a $5 million gift from Seth and Beth Klarman to fund scholarships for current and incoming students. The gift will extend opportunities to more Spelman scholars to become models of academic excellence and agents for positive change in the world. Between 2014 and 2017, the Klarmans supported scholarships for 321 students. Klarman scholars have participated in STEM undergraduate research programs, studied abroad and pursued a wide range of careers. 

$2 Million Provides Scholarships for KIPP Graduates: A $2 million gift from the Karsh Family Foundation will fund annual and endowed scholarships that support graduates of the Knowledge is Power Program schools, a nationwide network of open enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools. The Karsh KIPP award will be funded in four annual installments of $500,000 each that began in June 2018. Only KIPP alumnae are eligible to receive the award. Spelman became a KIPP College Partner in 2012 when Bruce and Martha Karsh provided their first gift to the College. 

Gift to Support Preservation of Black Feminist Papers: Spelman received a $10,000 gift from the Alison R. Bernstein Estate to the Women’s Research and Resource Center. The gift will be used to reformat audiovisual materials from the papers of Black feminist writers Audre Lorde and Toni Cade Bambara. The papers are the most heavily used collections in the Spelman College Archives. Dr. Bernstein was a William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Spelman and a member of the national advisory board of the College's Women’s Research and Resource Center. 

Spelman to Benefit From Boeing Investment: Spelman has been named one of eight historically Black colleges and universities to benefit from a $6 million investment by the Boeing Company. Through a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the investment will fund scholarships, internships, on-campus engagements and immersive boot camp programs that will introduce students to Boeing’s culture and career paths.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 61 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 1 among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and author Pearl Cleage. For more information, visit Spelman College.


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