Tift College of Education Student Wins GCTE’s Ellis Award for Student Teaching


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Chris Buechner, a student in the Tift College of Education's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, was recently announced as the recipient of this year's Geiger Ellis Student Teaching Award from the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE).

“The Tift College of Education faculty are so proud of Mr. Buechner's success at Mercer University,” said Dr. Paige Tompkins, interim dean of the College. “We thank GCTE for recognizing his accomplishments in teaching by honoring him with this award.”

The award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship, will be presented to Buechner at the GCTE 2014 Annual Conference, Feb. 7, at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.

“I am honored to receive the award, and I am thankful for the support I have gotten from Mercer, specifically from Dr. (Lucy) Bush, Dr. (Jon M.) Saulson, and Dr. (Jacquelyn M.) Culpepper,” said Buechner. “I am humbled by the letters of recommendation that were sent on my behalf. It really feels like my hard work is paying off.”
Dr. Culpepper, associate professor of education, nominated Buechner for the award, which is given annually to a Georgia college or university student who is pursing a degree program that includes professional certification from a Georgia-approved program in teaching English/language arts at the middle or secondary level or cognate area at the elementary level and who is scheduled to student-teach during fall 2013 or spring 2014.

“Chris Buechner is the type of knowledgeable, caring teacher that I would want to teach your children and my grandchildren. He has outstanding knowledge of literature and is an exceptional writer,” said Dr. Culpepper.

“His interest in others and working with young people is amply demonstrated through his volunteer work. Over the past year, he has volunteered at blood drives, raised money for and participated in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk, volunteered at local schools assisting with a creative writing club and a literary magazine, and coached youth baseball.”

Applicants for the award must carry a 3.2 grade-point average, write a cover letter explaining why they should be considered for the award, and obtain three letters of recommendation.

Buechner, 44, graduated from St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta, and briefly attended the University of Georgia before deciding to focus his efforts on managing his older brother's furniture store. The store eventually closed in 2005, and Buechner decided to enroll in Georgia State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in poetry. While pursing his MAT in secondary education in the Tift College, Buechner has been student teaching at Druid Hills High School in Atlanta. His story was recently featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and can be read here.

“I love teaching poetry and creative writing and hope to teach 11th and 12th grade after I finish my student teaching,” he said.