Alumnus INSPIRES his students to consider college

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Tyler Henry with middle school students

When GGC alumnus Tyler Henry, 24, brought a group of middle school students to GGC for a tour this past spring, his bus encountered unexpected detours due to building construction. But with a bit of creative maneuvering, Henry continued the tour via the “scenic route.”

It’s not surprising that the 2012 GGC graduate is resourceful. His participation in GGC’s education program granted him not only valuable in-class lessons, but also extensive field experience through GGC’s partnership with Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS).

“I’ve never had a moment where I felt unprepared,” said Henry, who is certified to teach multiple subjects like language arts, math, science and now, college tour guide extraordinaire. Now a special education teacher at Sweetwater Middle School in Lawrenceville, Henry employs his critical-thinking skills and brings to bear creative solutions on a daily basis.

One of those solutions was conducting an online crowd-funding appeal to raise money for 40 special education students, grades six through eight, to tour GGC.

Educators like Henry assist special education students with reading comprehension, cognitive processing or behavior disorders. While some might not think higher education is possible for such students, Henry is certain that college is not beyond their reach within an environment where they can find learning support dedicated to helping them succeed – an environment like that provided by GGC.

The college tour provided an opportunity for the students to dream and think about college as a real possibility.

Henry said his favorite part of the tour was, “watching their jaws drop,” when the students walked into classrooms outfitted with the latest technology or saw the library’s three stories of resources and private study rooms.
The visiting students were fascinated by the prospect of choosing their own class times, selecting teachers, enjoying the all-you-can-eat options in the Student Center dining hall and living in the residence halls.

“After a week, they were still going on about it,” said Henry. “They want to do whatever they need to attend GGC.” First, these future Grizzlies must graduate from high school, another purposeful reason for Henry’s tour. With college now a realistic possibility in their minds, they have incentive to finish high school.

“I really wanted to do something meaningful, so I can come home every day and say a kid is different because of something I did,” Henry said of his decision to become a teacher.

Clearly, Henry is well on his way toward achieving his goal.

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