College of Education Launches S.E.I.L. Team Teacher Ambassadors Program to Enhance STEM Education, Professional Development


ATLANTA – Mercer University’s Tift College of Education recently introduced the inaugural members of its S.E.I.L. (STEM Education Innovation Lab) Team Teacher Ambassadors Program during the College’s annual Leadership Academy.

The goal of the S.E.I.L. Team Teacher Ambassadors Program is to engage a select group of educators from Metro Atlanta in STEM professional development as a component of the University’s AgSTEM© Project.

The AgSTEM© Project was created in an effort to enhance the quality of STEM education in developing nations and Georgia through the integration of agriculture into the curriculum.

This summer, S.E.I.L. Team Teacher Ambassadors and Tift College faculty will visit partner school Juan Pablo Duarte in the Consuelo community of San Pedro de Marcois, Dominican Republic, where they will help to coordinate the construction of an outdoor learning lab and aquaponics system.

S.E.I.L. Team members will develop curriculum materials, lead professional development workshops and establish mentoring relationships with teachers in the Dominican Republic during the visit.

Additionally, they will collaborate with Mercer students participating in a Mercer On Mission trip coordinated by Dr. Brad Lian, associate professor of community medicine in the School of Medicine, and Dr. Jose Pino, assistant professor of Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts.

Upon returning from the Dominican Republic, S.E.I.L. Team Teacher Ambassadors will be expected to share their experiences with educators and other stakeholders in Georgia.

Together, S.E.I.L. Team members, Tift College of Education faculty and partner schools will participate in an international professional learning community (PLC) that will facilitate intercultural exchanges and collaborations related to STEM education, including implementation of the AgSTEM© Project with cooperating educators in the Dominican Republic and Georgia.

Tift College’s inaugural S.E.I.L. Team Teacher Ambassadors include Robert Brown, agriculture education teacher at Warren Technical School, DeKalb County Public Schools; Michelle Autrey, Mercer M.A.T. student and seventh-grade science teacher at Stone Mountain Middle School, DeKalb County Public Schools; and Trisha Connor, STEM coordinator and instructional coach at Harbins Elementary School, Gwinnett County Public Schools.

The AgSTEM© Project team includes Tift College of Education faculty Dr. Cynthia Anderson, assistant professor of teacher education; Dr. H. Justin Ballenger, assistant professor of STEM education; Dr. Carl Davis, assistant professor of education leadership; and Dr. N. Jean Walker, assistant professor of education leadership.

The S.E.I.L. Team and AgSTEM Project received administrative support from Dr. Scott Davis, provost; Dr. Penny Elkins, senior vice president for enrollment management; Dr. Allison Gilmore, associate dean in Tift College of Education; Dr. Jeffrey Hall, assistant dean in Tift College of Education; Dr. Lucy Bush, chair of teacher education in Tift College Education; and Dr. Sherah Carr, associate professor of teacher education and Dominican Republic project director in Tift College Education.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit