The Coweta County School System, in partnership with the University of West Georgia, will begin offering school system employees the opportunity to earn advanced educational degrees at no personal cost in fields of identified critical need.
At a called meeting on February 28, the Coweta County Board of Education approved the school system’s participation in UWG’s Georgia BEST program beginning next school year. The commitment will cost the system $450,000 per year over the next several years to provide locally-focused higher degree programs for 150 Coweta educators.
Specific courses of study, employee eligibility and selection criteria will be announced in the coming weeks, following Tuesday’s board called board meeting. An application portal will also be shared soon, and hybrid classes are expected to begin this fall.
More can be found about UWG’s Georgia’s BEST program here, and Coweta employees can express interest in participating in the opportunity here.
“UWG is particularly honored to have Coweta County School District – one of our home counties – as our second partner in this historic endeavor. We look forward to great and dynamic opportunities ahead in serving Coweta’s educators, students, families, and schools,” said Dr. Mike Dishman, dean of UWG’s College of Education.
“This represents a tremendous benefit for our employees, who will be able to pursue higher degrees in the areas that we need most in our school system,” said Dr. Evan Horton, Coweta County Superintendent. “More importantly, it is an innovative way of addressing the student needs that we see most in our classrooms, and provides our school system a way of developing our own talent to meet those needs through a partnership with the University of West Georgia. It will benefit everyone involved.”
Georgia’s “BEST” stands for “Building Educator Success Together” and represents a unique partnership opportunity for Georgia School Systems with UWG. The program is designed as a collaborative structure for educator preparation maximizing local relevance, efficiency, and stability. That means that courses and programs will be identified and delivered through a collaboration with the school system and UWG, ensuring materials and instruction are specific and relevant to the Coweta County School System and Coweta community. Courses will be delivered in many instances by experienced CCSS personnel, following UWG’s standards and supported by UWG faculty.
“All of that means that participating employees will be able to focus on content that is most needed in our classrooms, provided by instructors who are focused on the Coweta way,” said Superintendent Horton.
Application criteria and course of study details will be finalized in the coming weeks. The school system anticipates that degree programs in special education, leadership, literacy development and similar needs will be designed as initial offerings in this program, with courses to begin this fall. Participation in the program may benefit, for example, a current certified teacher who wishes to pursue a master’s degree, and may even allow for a paraprofessional employee to seek a certificated degree
Coweta educators will be chosen to participate in the program based on criteria developed by CCSS and UWG. The program represents a significant investment in the long-term success of both educators and of the Coweta County School System. Therefore, in exchange for the district paying for these courses, educators would commit to remaining employed with CCSS for at least three years.
CCSS is only the second school system in Georgia to announce participation in Georgia’s BEST, following an announcement by the Cobb County School System in February.
“Our participation is a tribute to the innovative spirit of our school board and school system, and a recognition of the quality and potential of our faculty and staff. Our participation also provides a significant benefit to employees, students and our community,” said Horton.