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Hart County middle school students visit campus, thanks to two UGA Public Service and Outreach units


About 20 middle school students from Hart County traveled to the University of Georgia recently to partner with a service-learning class and create documentaries about college life.

The trip was planned by two units of Public Service and Outreach, the Archway Partnership and the Office of Service-Learning, which also reports to the Vice President for Instruction. Hart County is an active Archway Partnership community.

The eighth-grade students from Hart County Middle School were given tours of the campus by UGA students, including Collin Barber, a senior communications major and former punter for the Bulldog football team. Barber led some of the students through the athletics facilities.

“It’s always great to try and be a good example, positive role model to kids and show kids what they want to see,” Barber said. “When I was little, I loved to come here and tour a big-time university and learn everything about the school and how things work.”

While the focus of this trip was on film making, it was also an opportunity for the young students to see what college had to offer.

“It means a lot to me because it gives me the opportunity to show the kids what they can do and what the opportunities are,” said Kelley Gaines, the Hart County Middle School teacher who brought the group to Athens. “Not every one of them is going to go into film so they get to come here to get exposed to all the options for what they can do.”

The Hart County students were partnered with UGA students enrolled in “Teaching with Technology,” a service-learning course led by Gretchen Thomas, an instructor in the Department of Career and Information Studies in the College of Education. A 2013 Service-Learning Fellow, Thomas has worked on several projects with the Archway Partnership. She was first paired with educators in Hart County through Archway Professional Ilka McConnell.

“It’s just bringing so much opportunity to our kids,” Gaines said. “Some of these kids, they don’t get out of our county. They don’t have opportunity or means to get out. So when the program comes to us and allows us the opportunity to come over here … it’s just making those connections for students that they may not get otherwise.”

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