Published on October 4, 2013 by Dr. Betsy Rogers  

Samford education graduate, Amanda Cavin, received one of Georgia’s three “Innovation in Teaching Awards,” based on innovative teaching strategies in Language Arts and Mathematics.  

Cavin, a 2002 graduate, is a first grade Talented and Gifted (TAG) teacher at Unity Grove Elementary School in Locust Grove, Ga. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recognized Cavin as one of three winners for being “among the most creative and effective teachers in our state.”

Technology plays a large role in Cavin’s classroom catalyzing student achievement. After being awarded a grant last year, Cavin provided iPads for her students, enabling her to create instructional menus for students to choose how they want to demonstrate their learning. Students then blog about their learning experiences, use various apps for practice, and research and collect samples for digital portfolios.

Although Cavin is an effective and innovative teacher now, it was not always her plan. She first studied nursing at Samford, but after experiences of working with a special needs child and teaching a preschool class at a local community center, she felt inspired to change her major.

“I will be forever grateful for the experiences I had in the education program at Samford,” she said. “I established lasting friendships with my cohort members and have fond memories of my professors who prepared me very well to be an educator.”

Cavin said Samford brought out the best in her, and she appreciated the support from professors and being challenged academically. She attempts to create that same sentiment for her students by planning investigations and experiences that challenge them to think critically, collaborate with others, communicate their ideas, and be creative.

“During my time at Samford, our school motto was a quote by W.B. Yeats – ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,’” she said, “and after almost 11 years of teaching, this fire is still burning.”        

For her recognition, Cavin will receive a $2,000 stipend for serving as a leader to other educators, and Unity Grove Elementary will receive a $5,000 grant. Georgia Public Broadcasting will film Cavin teaching in her classroom in Fall2013 and Spring 2014, and the video and supplemental materials will be provided to other educators, parents, institutions of higher education and other stakeholders.

Cavin is daughter to Samford law professor, Henry Strickland, and his wife, Anne.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.