Alumni/Current Students

Furman Alumni named Upstate School Leaders

June 2, 2008 
Greenville, SC

Seven Furman alumni have been named as new principals or directors in four Upstate school districts over the past two weeks.

Greenville County Schools announced Carlos Brooks as the new principal of Southside High School effective July 1, 2008. Mr. Brooks was principal intern this year at Wade Hampton High and was an assistant principal at Eastside High from 2003-07. Before that, he was an administrative assistant at Northwood Middle and a technology teacher at Travelers Rest High. He began his 15-year career at Easley High as a U.S. history teacher from 1994-97. Mr. Brooks earned a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in School Leadership from Furman University in 2003. 

Mrs. Robin Mill, assistant principal at Berea Middle School, has been named Principal at Berea Middle by the Greenville County Schools. Mrs. Mill completed her MA with a concentration in School Leadership at Furman in 2002. This year, she was honored by SC Superintendent of Education Jim Rex as the SC Middle Level Assistant Principal of the Year and was also honored by a joint resolution of the SC General Assembly as the Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. 

Robert Roach, a 2004 graduate of Furman’s School Leadership program, has been named as the principal of Clinton High School in Laurens School District #56. Mr. Roach is currently an assistant principal at Mauldin High School in Greenville County where his has administered the Freshmen Academy, a program that minimizes the difficulties students face during the transition from middle school to high school. Mr. Roach has worked as a social studies teacher at Riverside Middle School and Southside High School and has taught at-risk students at the Boy’s Home of the South and the Greenville Alternative High School. His coaching assignments have included high school football, basketball, and tennis.

The Oconee County School District has named Timothy Cliff Roberts as the new principal of Seneca High School. Mr. Roberts completed a Master of Arts with a concentration in special education at Furman in 2004 and Furman’s School Leadership program in 2006. For the past two years, he has served as assistant principal of Blue Ridge High School in Greenville County. Prior to serving as assistant principal of Blue Ridge High School, Mr. Roberts was administrative assistant at Greer Middle School and social studies teacher at Greer Middle as well.

Mr. Roberts said, “I am ecstatic about being named the principal of Seneca High School. My family and I look forward to moving to the Seneca area, and I feel honored to work at a school the caliber of Seneca High School.”

The McCormick County School District recently named three Furman alumni to leadership positions. John Greene, a 2007 Furman graduate, has been named principal at McCormick High School. Mr. Greene was the administrative assistant at both McCormick Middle School and McCormick Elementary School. Prior to that, Mr. Green was the band director at McCormick High School for sixteen years.

Ms. Kelly Coxe, a 2007 graduate of Furman’s School Leadership program, has been named Director of Human Resources, 6-12 Instruction, Adult Education and the Alternative School. She previously served as the Instructional Facilitator at McCormick Middle School. Ms. Rebecca Fuller, also a 2007 graduate of Furman’s School Leadership program, has been named the Director of Youth Services at the McCormick Alternative School. Ms. Fuller was a classroom teacher at McCormick Middle School.

Furman’s Graduate Studies in Education program offers the Master of Arts degree in Education with concentrations in Early Childhood Education, Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities, Literacy, TESOL, and School Leadership. In addition to courses on campus, School Leadership cohorts benefit from courses offered at the University Center of Greenville and in neighboring school districts. Many recent School Leadership graduates completed degrees as part of cohorts offered through Anderson School District Five.

Veteran Teacher Still Passionate About Photography

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 2:00 am
By Kathryn McKenzie

The magic of photography was love at first sight for Fine Arts Center photography teacher Debbie Cooke.

Cooke's college interests were in drawing and painting at Winthrop University and then she went on to Furman University, where she earned her master's degree in education.

"I decided what I really wanted to get was my M.F.A. degree, so I went to Clemson and thought I was going to be a painter -- and then I took my first photography class.

"I had been through undergraduate school and maybe 20 hours of graduate school and this was my first photography class, and I walked in and thought, 'this is it, this is really it,'" Cooke says. 

Cooke says "the magic" of photography is what caught her eye.

For Cooke, the process of capturing an image and developing it is like the first time, every time.

"Still ... when you see something that's important to you out in the real world, and you look through the view finder, and you frame it up and you capture it, and it is something that just you have seen and, for whatever reason, is important to you, then you process that film, and you go in the back and you enlarge it, and you print it and you put it in the developer, and when that image first appears, it's magical," Cooke says.

"The first time I ever did it I felt that way, and today, I still feel that way, and for me to introduce the students to that, it's cool." Cooke says.

Cooke has been teaching for 35 years, 10 at the Fine Arts Center.

Cooke teaches 10th through 12th grades, and she shares with her students the magic that first captured her.

Her classes are working with pinhole cameras right now, which is essentially a cardboard oatmeal container used to take a picture. The students alter photographs and create illusions with hand-made pinhole images.

"My philosophy is that if they get a good basic knowledge of how an analog camera and a dark room work, they can handle any digital camera that comes along," she says. "But, unfortunately, the other does not hold true. If you can work a digital camera, well you probably won't be able to work an analog camera well."

Working together with the students keeps Cooke abreast on the frequent changes in the world. "I truly believe that I'm interested in the things I'm interested in -- vital concerns and making a statement about the things I see in the world, because I'm always rejuvenated by teaching students. It is a case where I always learn something by teaching them. It's more of a collaborative type of experience," Cooke says.

For the past four years, Cooke's work has had a political slant on the changing times that have taken place in the South. Her recent pieces on the state of South Carolina, "Shams of Comfort" and "Taking Stock," have awarded her with membership into the Southern Artistry. The Southern Artistry is supported by the Southern Arts Federation, which is a non-profit organization that supports contemporary arts in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia. Each artist who is awarded membership has been nominated by the local arts commission.

Cooke's work will next be showcased on, a free online artist registry that focuses on the lives and work of South Carolina artists.

"Shams of Comfort" looks at the situation of the dying textile mills and the culture that the textile mills brought to the South. "Taking Stock" is a reference to the use of petroleum-based products.

In her personal work and in working with students, it's never been about the mechanics or the device behind the work.

"It's always the idea and the content that drives the work," she says. "And that's one of the reasons, we, my classes, continue to do pinhole and make their own cameras. I want them (the students) to know it is their intellect that drives this work, their creativity. It's not the piece of equipment they have in their hands.

"So I tell them, if you can create incredible photographic images with a piece of cardboard as your camera, can you imagine what you can do when we work with 35mm?" Cooke says.

Tanglewood Middle’s Linda Hardin Receives National Teacher of Merit Award

Greenville, SC -- Linda Hardin, ESOL teacher at Tanglewood Middle School, was recently presented the Richard T. Farrell Teacher of Merit Award from the National History Day organization. 

Ms. Hardin was recognized for her dedication to the National History Day program and her success working with students who have a variety of learning abilities, students who are visually and hearing impaired, and students learning English as a second language.

Ms. Hardin incorporates National History Day information into her work with ESL students. Through the NHD process, students conduct research about their personal history and culture while learning English to communicate their feelings.

“Recent standardized testing at our school shows that National History Day is an effective instructional tool for developing reading and research skills for my students,” said Ms. Hardin. “We translate, analyze and debate in several languages and dialects. My students perfect English pronunciation and attain confidence in communicating complex ideas.”

Hardin’s students go beyond the text book and actively seek oral interviews to supplement their research. One group of students tracked down Jesse Jackson and encouraged him to visit their neighborhood, telling stories of his civil rights battles and memories of sit-ins and the Greenville African-American Museum.

National History Day, Inc. is not just one day, but a yearlong education organization that makes history come alive through educator professional development and active student learning. 

Ms. Hardin is a current graduate student in the TESOL program at Furman.

Riverside Middle’s Hale Edwards Named National Middle Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Greenville, SC -- The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) selected Hale Edwards, a seventh grade teacher at Riverside Middle School, as this year's Outstanding Middle Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year. 

The Outstanding Middle Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year award is presented annually to recognize exceptional social studies teachers. The candidates must excel in developing and using instructional material creatively and effectively; show that they incorporate innovative instructional strategies and techniques into their teaching; demonstrate the ability to foster a spirit of inquiry; and encourage the development of democratic beliefs, values, and skills needed to become effective citizens.

Edwards, a nationally board certified teacher, has been teaching seventh grade social studies at Riverside Middle School since 1999. She has high expectations for her students and provides them with a classroom environment conducive to high achievement. Her lesson plans not only align content with appropriate standards, but also use a variety of teaching strategies and resources that make learning fun and relevant for her students, and provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their learning at various ability levels. In 2006, the South Carolina Council for the Social Studies recognized her achievements as an educator by naming her Middle School Teacher of Excellence.

"Her creative ideas capture the attention and promote the success of numerous students who have failed to be involved in classes elsewhere. Her performance has earned her respect from her students, her co-workers and the school's administration," said James L. Gardner, Assistant Principal, Riverside Middle School.

One of Edwards' most rewarding experiences has been founding and sponsoring the Model United Nations program at Riverside. She has watched the program grow from a handful of participants to fifty-six participants this year. The students must go through a process that requires their honing of cooperative learning skills when researching, understanding, presenting and defending an issue or challenge in a particular country. Not only do her students win awards, but also experience tremendous growth as they learn about other countries, open up their views on world issues, and explore the role they can play in making a difference.

At the school level, Edwards developed Riverside's own Character Education program, and introduced it along with a Peer Mediation program in order to help students become aware of the world around them and the integral part they play in society. She feels strongly that through these programs students are learning self control, self respect and respect for others - ideas and concepts that put social studies into practice.

At the state level, Edwards participated in the South Carolina Center for Education Policy and Leadership's Riley Institute at Furman University, where she and other teachers from South Carolina met and examined ways to make education in the state more effective, discussed progress that had been made, challenges still being faced, and possible solutions.

Edwards is passionate about gaining new knowledge about the world around her and sharing that knowledge with her students. She was selected to participate in a travel abroad program to China and Japan through the South Carolina Center for Teaching Asia. This experience yielded many insights that have translated into benefits for her students' learning of other countries in the form of new lessons and lesson enhancements. Recently she was accepted to the Goethe Institute Transatlantic Outreach Program and traveled in the summer to Europe to learn about modern Germany.

Edwards is a member of the South Carolina Council for the Social Studies (SCSS), National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), among others. She received a master of arts in middle level social studies from Furman University, Greenville, S.C., and a bachelor of arts in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation from Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.

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