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Dalton State adds to teacher workforce with 61% increase in education graduates

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Dalton State College awarded degrees to 437 students at its spring 2024 commencement ceremonies on May 14. At a time when teachers are in high-demand, the college saw a 61% year-over-year increase in graduates with education degrees, including associate and bachelor’s degrees, and it graduated its largest-ever spring-term cohort with a Bachelor of Arts in History with a Secondary Certification in Education.

Chandler Dillard, who graduated among this spring’s history education cohort, said his passion for education grew from the impact his late grandfather had in the education field.

“I chose the educational field primarily due to the influence of my late grandfather,” he said. “A former history teacher, he shared his experiences in teaching history and the life-long impact it had on his students. As a result, it furthered my aim to enter the educational field, which can positively impact upcoming generations in a way that no other profession can replicate.”

School systems across the nation are experiencing teacher shortages. There has been an 18% decline in teacher preparation program enrollment in the southern region over the last decade, according to the Southern Regional Education Board.

A robust educator workforce helps ensure our pre-K-12 students are academically successful and prepared to enter college or the professional workforce when they graduate high school,” Sharon Hixon, dean of Dalton State’s School of Education, said. “There’s a high demand for pre-K-12 educators in schools across Georgia. In addition to preparing our teacher candidates, the School of Education has launched additional efforts to increase the educator talent pool.”

These efforts include:

  • Partnerships with Dalton Public and Whitfield County Schools.
  • Flexible course schedules for students who may already be working full time.
  • Additional hands-on learning opportunities for teacher candidates.
  • Implementation of the Para-to-teacher Pathway Program, which allows current paraprofessionals to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s in education through a flexible format and become certified.
Graduation cap with inspiring quote.

Dillard’s interest in history began at an early age.

“My journey to this path of study began during my childhood,” he said. “Always possessing an ingrained interest in history, during my early years, I could recount all of the U.S. Presidents and would read stories about prominent historical figures and events.”

Dillard was an exemplary student during his time at Dalton State, representing the college earlier this year at the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ Academic Recognition Day, where he was one of 26 students honored and congratulated by Chancellor Sonny Perdue for academic achievement and excellence. He also received the Academic Excellence in Secondary Education Award this year at Dalton State’s 49th Annual Honors Convocation.

Student posing with academic excellence award certificates

“When it comes to having a student who typifies a standard of excellence, Chandler Dillard is a wonderful example,” Sharlonne Smith, assistant professor of education at Dalton State. “Every project that Chandler completes is used as an exemplar for his colleagues to follow because no stone is left unturned and academic rigor is the focus. Chandler has a humble and supportive presence that is needed in our schools today. He is patient, observant, and sets the standard for exceptional academic excellence. His future students will be so lucky to have him as their teacher.”

Learn more about Dalton State education programs at

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