Donors and courage celebrated at GSU College of Education Honors Day
Gifts support the deep connections between students and teachers 

Behind every great teacher trained at Georgia State University are those who support the quest for knowledge, and the College of Education celebrated both at its recent Honors Day.

The donors – many of whom are alumni or involved in education – and recipients represented the spectrum of education: they arrived on campus eager to learn and left after graduation to share that knowledge with others.

During the ceremony, several shared what they had learned about the importance of education, and the event was highlighted by an emotional exchange between families of two alumni.

“I will always be grateful to Georgia State for the outstanding preparation I received to be able to thrive and work in four different schools,” said Vesta O. Jones, (M.Ed. 1973, 1992), who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award and also funds the Vesta O. Jones Endowed Professorship in Early Childhood Education. “Teachers have the greatest influence on children of all the professionals in their lives.”

“My teachers not only educated me, they encouraged and empowered me,” said professor emerita Beverly Armento, who presented the first Beverly J. Armento Doctoral Award to Erika Bullock (M.Ed., 2008) and Sarah Mantegna. “These teachers realize they have the power to change children’s lives.”

“Every day there is a mini-miracle [such as]seeing someone who is learning disabled read for the first time,” said Jessica Khakzad (M.Ed., 2006), a special education teacher at Pinckneyville Middle School in Gwinnett County. She and Mary Butler (M.Ed., 2004) help fund the Outstanding Master’s Student in Special Education Award, which Khakzad presented to Susan Baker and Emily White.

Patricia Ferrer (M.Ed., 1975) presented the endowed scholarship funded by her and her husband, Bradford Ferrer (B.B.A., 1981). The recipient, Alfred Henry, excels in the middle childhood education major, with a focus on teacher preparation.

Former College of Education Dean Ron Colarusso funded $1,000 awards related to urban education. Assistant Professor Nicole Patton-Terry in the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education “has shown outstanding achievement in the area of scholarship or creative activity.” Erica DeCuir received the Colarusso Outstanding Urban Education Dissertation Award.

The Jerry Robbins Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics, named for and funded by another former College of Education dean, gave $500 awards to four students excelling in math with a focus in teacher preparation. Recipients included Allison Dunn, Sarah Gordon, James Mitchell and Leah Scott.

Six family members gave an emotional presentation of the Keinon M. Bennett Early Career Teaching Award, which is given to a teacher who exemplifies the spirit, dedication, enthusiasm and positivity of Bennett (B.S.Ed, 1997), who in 2001 died of a heart attack at age 30.

This year’s recipient was the family of Jeffrey L. Ingram Jr. (B.S.Ed., 2002), who like Bennett was a teacher and coach in Cobb County. In January, Ingram was jogging when a car hit and killed him. His wife, Corinne Ingram (B.S., 2001), who he met at GSU, and daughter Kailyn accepted the award.

“In spite of the things that go on that are bad, there are still people on this earth here to help you,” Keinon Bennett’s mother, Mary Bennett, told Corinne Ingram.

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424