GECEF | Board of Directors

The Georgia Early Childhood Education Foundation is administered by a Board compromised of early childhood education professionals from business/industry, post-secondary institutions/secondary institutions,  representatives from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning,  Georgia Department of Education and Georgia FCCLA.  Many of these professionals are members of the Georgia Association on Young Children.

Amanda Burross

Mrs. Burross is a graduate of ABAC, University of Georgia and Walden University. She has been a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher for over 23 years. She began her teaching career at the middle school level teaching Exploratory FACS in Forsyth and Haralson County. She moved to Douglas County in 1999 as the FACS instructor at Douglas County High School where she is currently teaching. Mrs. Burross has a long history of working with FCCLA and FACS. She served as District IV State Vice President for FCCLA in 1990-91 and has been an FCCLA advisor for the majority of her teaching career. She serves a multitude of roles in Douglas County, she is the Education Pathway Leader, working with the county ECE and TAP teachers, mentor and trainer for all new CTAE Teachers to Douglas County and serves as the CTAE representative on many county committees. She is a member of ACTE, GACTE, GATFACS, NAEYC, and GAEYC. Mrs. Burross Industry Certified her program in 2019.

Tonia Renee Durden

Tonia Durden, Ph.D. is a Clinical Associate Professor and Birth through 5 Program Coordinator within the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University. Dr. Durden’s professional work and scholarship can be categorized into three core areas of focus: Early Childhood Education (curriculum and program development); Cultural Diversity (research to professional practice); and Early Childhood Systems Engagement (strategic partnerships and equitable systems building). Dr. Durden is committed to using teacher education and research as an informative vehicle towards helping develop educators and leaders who become culturally responsive change agents in their classrooms and communities.

Thelma Hillmon

Mrs. Hillmon is a retired educator from the Georgia Department of Education. Her career started as a Family & Consumer Sciences Teacher/Coordinator with the Atlanta Public System. Here - she taught a variety of subject areas including: Consumer Home Economics, Occupational Food Service and Occupational Child Care & Development. After many years in the classroom, Mrs. Hillmon later became District Supervisor of Family & Consumer Sciences Education (7yrs) and Area Facilities Consultant (11Yrs) with GaDOE. She attained several awards & recognition for her services through the years. Her most prized accomplishments are becoming a Certified Family and Consumer Scientist and serving as President of the Georgia Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Mrs. Hillmon currently resides in Tifton, Georgia with her husband (Johnny) and is excited to be serving on the GECEF Board.

Leslie McKenzie, MEd

ECCE Instructor/Advisor
ECESA Faculty Advisor
Athens Technical College

Responsibilities include: Plan and implement lessons and labs for various classes in the Early Childhood Education Department. Classes taught include: Creative Activities; Exceptionalities; Social Issues and Family Involvement; Child Growth and Development; Exceptionalities; Paraprofessional Methods and Materials; Paraprofessional Roles and Practices; Health, Safety and Nutrition; Language and Literacy; and Math and Science. Supervise practicum and intern students. Maintain student records. Develop content for new courses in Classroom Strategies for Exceptional Children and Exploring Your Role in the Exceptional Environment. Advisement of ECCE students. Faculty Advisory for student organization.

Gena Sapp, MEd

Instructor, Augusta Technical College

Gena Sapp is a graduate of GSU with a Bachelor's Degree in Child
Development and a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education.  She is the
director of Southeastern Technical College Child Development for over 10
years as well as an Early Childhood Education Instructor.  Gena has over 25
years of teaching both at the high school and secondary levels.

Jennifer L. Waters, MEd

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
Quality Rated Assessor, Southeast Region

As an Assessor for Quality Rated, Jennifer assesses program quality using the Environmental Rating Scales. Quality Rated is Georgia's system to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early education and school-age care programs.

Linsey Shockley

Program Specialist,Family and Consumer Sciences
Georgia Department of Education

2007 Graduate from Irwin County High School
GA FCCLA State Officer in 2005-06, 2006-07
2009 Associate’s Degree from ABAC
2011 Bachelor’s Degree from UGA (FACS Ed)
Master’s Degree from Valdosta State (Career and Technical Education)
Member of and officer at ABAC and UGA
2010-11 --- served as the AAFCS National Chair for the Student Unit
Taught at Tift County High for 5 years
Pathways Taught: ECE, TAP, and Interior Design
Lead FCCLA Advisor
Served as an officer with GAFCS since becoming a professional
GAFCS President 2014-2015

Stacey Neuharth-Pritchett, PhD

Professor and Head of Educational Psychology
The University of Georgia

Stacey Neuharth-Pritchett is Professor of Educational Psychology with research interests that center on the contexts of early educational intervention, kindergarten retention, economically disadvantaged children's transition to school (particularly the Head Start population), and intervention for children with chronic health problems. She has served as the principal investigator, co-investigator on a number of externally-funded research projects on Head Start, early literacy, and teacher quality. Dr. Neuharth-Pritchett teaches courses in educational research methodology, applied educational measurement, and seminars on psychological issues for young children and families placed at risk.

Martha Staples, PhD

Martha Staples serves as GECEF Director, has 15 years of experience teaching in the classroom and 17 years experience as RESA CTAE Coordinator, Supervisor of Home Economics Education, local CTAE administrator, business and industry laison working with advisory committees, assessment coordinator for the  CTAE Resource Network and educational consulting.

Barbara Wethy

Barbara McWethy has worked in Early Care and Education for over 30 years, with extensive classroom teaching experience as well as Program Management. She was the Literacy Specialist for Kalamazoo County Head Start, Kalamazoo Michigan, where she worked closely with classroom staff and parents to engage young children in positive literacy learning experiences. Barbara also served as an Early Reading First Coach for an Early Childhood program in Cobb County as part of the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s education staff. She has served as an Early Learning Mentor Coach for Head Start Programs in both the Nashville, TN area as well as North Georgia. She has worked as a Trainer and Technical Assistance provider, supporting Early Care and Education staff in Professional Development and meeting Bright from the Start Requirements to enable them to apply for approval through the Quality Rated system.

Most recently she was the Program Coordinator and Instructor for the Early Learning and Development Program in the Tift College of Education at Mercer University. She is now in a new role as the Workforce Supports Manager for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

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