Local students expand classroom

Sarah Schatz, right, and some of her fellow American students smile for a photo outside the historic Oxford University campus in England. Schatz is a junior at the University of Georgia.

Sarah Schatz, right, and some of her fellow American students smile for a photo outside the historic Oxford University campus in England. Schatz is a junior at the University of Georgia.

ALBANY, Ga. — Traditionally, education has been a finite endeavor, bound by the four walls of a classroom and a precise geographic location on the map.

But a number of students who got the basics of their education in Albany have broken down traditional barriers and made the world their classroom.

They all came home to Southwest Georgia for the holidays, but students with Albany ties spent part of 2011 studying in such exotic locales as Cortona, Italy, Oxford in England, at St. Andrews in Scotland, in the West African nation of Benin, in Paris, Australia, Austria and India.

“I knew studying in Italy would be a stepping stone to the rest of my life,” University of Georgia junior Emily Stubbs said. “I came away feeling the experience shaped me in many ways.”

Such sentiment was echoed by Stubbs’ fellow Deerfield-Windsor School graduates Sarah Schatz, who is also a junior at UGA, and Whitcomb Barnhill, a junior at Auburn, and by former Deerfield student Daniel Dorough, who finished his four years of high school at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in north Georgia, during holiday conversations.


Whitcomb Barnhill stands amid Beninese children during his summer mission and educational trip to the West African nation. Barnhill is a junior at Auburn University.

“The time I spent in Benin was life-changing,” Barnhill, who is an Agricultural Business major, said. “As part of a mission trip, it was amazing to see the spiritual impact our work had on the lives of some of the people in that country, especially the children. And working with the nonprofit Projects for Progress was as educational as any class I could ever take.”

Barnhill made the trip to Benin as part of a mission group representing his friend and former Peace Corps volunteer Jace Rabe’s Atlanta church, but after the weeklong stay, he stretched the trip over the month of June to help with a start-up cashew processing plant that will serve the farmers of the country. Despite its designation as the world’s largest cashew producer, Benin is seeing little monetary return for its crop.

“The money in cashew production is in the processing,” Barnhill said. “But the farmers in Benin process only about 20 percent of their crop in their country. An overwhelming majority is shipped to India, where it is processed. They’re basically given a price for their crops and told to take it or leave it.

“Projects for Progress will use the processing plant to help the farmers in the country and to finance education programs as well as other projects.”

Stubbs discovered her passion for art in a survey course during her freshman year at Georgia, and her decision to major in Art History was confirmed with the trip to Italy, home of many of the world’s acclaimed masters.


Emily Stubbs, a University of Georgia junior, stands beside her artwork that was selected to be a part of her class’s exhibit during her semester abroad in Cortona, Italy.


Joe Bellacomo

Daniel Dorough is currently in his freshman year of college at St. Andrews College in Scotland. Dorough is enrolled in a joint education program through the College of William & Mary.

“At some point, I made a promise to myself that I would take a semester of art because I had always loved it,” she said. “And ever since I ‘discovered’ Italy in the sixth grade I’ve wanted to go there. When I found out about the program that allows art students to study for a semester in Cortona, I knew it was something I should do.

“I knew almost no one, and I didn’t speak the language. But I decided to follow my gut, my curiosity and my passion, and now I’ve discovered I want more from life because of this trip. In some ways, this is where my life began.”

While Shatz is a declared Biology major, her love for the written word led her to apply for a semester of study at Oxford.

“The director of the program came to talk to one of my English classes last semester, and a couple of my friends and I decided to apply together,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to England, and even though the (study-abroad program at Oxford) is more for English majors, I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

“Taking classes at Oxford helped me to realize how small the world has become. It was an opportunity to experience another culture and to see how that culture views the world and the United States in particular. I’ve grown a lot as a result of the trip.”

Dorough, who said finishing high school at a boarding school helped prepare him for the distance that would separate him from friends and family while he studied in Scotland, was two days away from graduation and enrolling at UGA when he learned that he’d not only been accepted at his first college choice, the College of William & Mary, but that he’d also been selected for the university’s joint enrollment program with St. Andrews, which was founded in 1413.

“I’d been wait-listed (at William & Mary), so I prepared to go to Georgia,” Dorough said. “I got an email from one of the professors in the joint program saying I’d been accepted, so I started getting everything ready — my visa, finishing paperwork, a whole lot of packing — to head overseas.

“I found out about the joint program when a representative of the program visited our school during my senior year. When I told my dad (Albany attorney Bo Dorough) about it, he did some research and it sounded like something I might want to do. I didn’t think I’d get in, so it was cool to find out I’d been accepted.”

Dorough, who is majoring in History, will study at St. Andrews during his freshman and junior years, and he’ll take classes at William & Mary (in Williamsburg, Va.) during his sophomore and senior years.

“There’s just so much history at St. Andrews,” he said. “The educational and grading system are different, and there are some unique traditions that I’ve had to adjust to. But there’s a sense of camaraderie among the students, and I like that. I’ve had a few misgivings, but all in all it’s been a great experience.”

The magnitude of their experience is a recurring theme among local students who stretched the boundaries of their educational institutions, and in the process confirmed that their possibilities are limitless.


Spike 3 years, 8 months ago

Could DCSS partner with Deerfield and Sherwood on some intiatives. There's no reason DCSS can't have this same kind of success. They spend more per student then either of these private schools.


PatrickY2K 3 years, 8 months ago

Private schools require students to purchase their own textbooks and they pay their teachers considerably less than public schools. They also choose their students based on academic achievement, and have academic requirements, a luxury public schools cannot implement. All of these factors contribute to the success of private schools, much more than efficient use of funds.


chinaberry25 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree. Some of these flondering students could be remediated at an offsite location. With all the disruption in the schools ahead, these behind students have got to be caught up someway. Obviously they are not getting it in DCSS's classrooms. Another tactic needs to be tried. There should also be classes on behavior and impulse control as well as attention spans. After all of this has gotten under control and tardies are taken into account, there leaves only 10 minutes of teaching. Deerfield students would be shocked at what goes on in the school systems. Someone told me that Colquitt County High School has it altogether. Run to a tee. They have both minorities and they do not allow the students to control the schools as Albany does.


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps these young people could help the needy here locally. But first the needy must stop cheating, stealing, murduring, and fornicating long enough to realize they need to make some effort to improve their lives.


Amazed2 3 years, 8 months ago

Spike, I think you might be kidding on this issue but I don't see it happening. The main reason people in Albany and Dougerty County pay up to $8000.year to go to DWS (less for other private schools) is to NOT be a PARTNER in CRIME. Of course the DCSS does operate like a Foreign Country.


whodat 3 years, 8 months ago

@Chinaberry25: thank God you have some insight into the working conditions of these classrooms in the DCSS. the principals blame the teachers for lack of discipline but when you write up a student, the administrators in charge of meting out punishment just give them a slap on the wrist. (i've had one administrator tell the students to just go back to class and apologize. another administrator didn't do anything to a student who told me "f--- you"). Certainly not all, but far too many students come from homes where education is not valued and proper classroom behavior is not reinforced and teachers are not supported by the parents; where xenophobic attitudes and ethno-centric values combine to create a closed-minded culture of "if you don't look like me, you don't count" --disrespectful, contemptuous, dismissive. I've heard the same thing about Colquitt HS. It's the difference in leadership.


Spike 3 years, 8 months ago

Amazed2: I'm not kidding. Those teachers and adminstrators have a common desire to make a difference in young peoples lives. DWS/Sherwood are doing it right and have teachers, adminstrators, the board and parents all doing it right and working together. What other High School can you go to where you walk down the hall and there isn't a lock on any locker? Where kids respect themselves and others and understand that they are there to learn.

Whodat, thank you for your service. Your comment is spot on unfortunately. It is truly sad when you have some (like yourself) who want to make a difference only to have an administrator completely undermine you.


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