Gordon County GYSTC is sprucing up with a new attitude for 2020. At the helm of change is the newly-installed Center Coordinator, Aubrey Crook.  He assumed leadership in October equipped with years of experience as a seasoned middle school science educator and a tenure with GYSTC that includes leading the organization’s year-round Discovery Camps program.  Mr. Crook’s approach will emphasize more engagement of middle school students and decentralization of GYSTC programs to accommodate the sprawling 14 Georgia counties served by Gordon GYSTC.

Mr. Crook also plans to broaden and deepen the Center’s professional development workshops for elementary and middle school teachers that will include advanced instruction methodologies and broader subject matter in STEM courses. As an introductory attraction, all professional development workshops will be free during the upcoming academic semester beginning in January, 2020.   The two-hour course offerings will focus on instruction for 5th and 8th grade students; Georgia Milestone booster training; orientation to the mobile planetarium known as StarLab and instructional strategies on 3-dimensional science. Any elementary or middle school STEM teacher in the Gordon GYSTC service area is eligible to register and attend the workshops at no charge.

In his new position, Mr. Crook will be challenged to renew and rebrand Gordon GYSTC as a vibrant nexus for STEM learning and activity.  Located on the campus of Gordon State College, the Center has languished in recent years without a Center Coordinator or functioning board – so much of Mr. Crook’s time in coming months will be spent introducing himself and re-introducing GYSTC to the many school districts that lie within GYSTC boundaries.  According to Mr. Crook, “Meeting and greeting teachers, school principals and school district members in our counties is something I’m certainly looking forward to.  At a time when so much of our daily lives involve STEM, what GYSTC offers teachers, students, parents and communities is an easy sell.”

More challenging for Aubrey Crook will be meeting the needs of GYSTC participants who live, learn and work in widespread and often rural areas of the state.  He continued, “The northern and southern-most areas of Georgia have often been problematic for GYSTC outreach which largely operates on a model that places many activities in and around the Center.  At Gordon GYSTC, we’re going to flip that model by bringing increased activity – especially professional training for STEM teachers – directly to the school districts wherever they exist.”

The decentralized experiment was formulated in a recent meeting with GYSTC Executive Director Betsy Green and other state office staff.  Ms. Green said, “The new approach being piloted through Gordon GYSTC may have far-reaching implications for other GYSTC regional centers who have sometimes struggled to bring everyone into the circle who wants and needs our programs.  We’re flexible enough to enthusiastically embrace whatever works.”

Adding to his rapidly growing agenda, Mr. Crook will also be canvassing the landscape for potential board members to help guide Gordon GYSTC’s future and local businesses to lend financial and in-kind support.  “We’re looking to build solid partnerships with science-minded individuals and businesses who understand the importance of community involvement to quality education,” he said.

Teachers wishing to take advantage of the free professional development seminars occurring during January and February, 2020 and others wishing to meet, greet and welcome the new and improved GYSTC to the neighborhood are invited to stop in to the Gordon GYSTC Regional Center’s Open House, 419 College Drive, Barnesville, GA 30204 on January 15, 2020.  Call us at (470) 578-7592  or reach out to Aubrey Crook  directly at aubreyc@gordonstate.edu for more information.