written by Claire Miller | photographed by Steve Thackston
Each shelf in Clinical Associate Professor Laura Meyers’ office tells a story.
Take a closer look at this corner of her office to see how Meyers puts her own creative touch on her work in the College of Education & Human Development.
- Meyers leads an annual study abroad trip to Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichuan province, and has hosted numerous educators from China, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and other countries during their visits to Atlanta, giving all involved a broader, more global perspective on early childhood and elementary education. She collects art, photographs, books and figurines from her travels.
- Many students visiting her office for the first time remark on the “Teaching Respect for Native Peoples” poster, which reminds students to think about how native cultures are represented (and misrepresented) in the classroom and society as a whole.
- Meyers is known for collecting and decorating her office with inspirational aphorisms such as “See beautiful,” “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” She also often includes these quotes in syllabi and notes to students.
- Tucked into her shelves, several awards acknowledge Meyers’s dedication to her craft as a teacher of teachers. She has received the Georgia Council for the Social Studies Outstanding Educator Award, the College of Education & Human Development’s Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, and the Honorary Educator of the Experimental Lab School Attached to Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, among many more. Look closely, and you’ll even discover the citizenship award she earned in elementary school.
- Meyers is the creator and founder of Tiles for Social Justice, a project that supports teachers in exploring critical issues with young people. She coaches teachers in selecting and sharing children’s books and current events to spark discussions about fairness and equity in regard to civil rights, environment, gender and hunger. Discussions shift into research, and findings evolve into the creation of decorative tiles that convey messages for students to showcase in hopes of prompting others to think critically and creatively about social justice. To learn more, visit tiles4socialjustice.weebly.com.
- To model hands-on learning and engagement practices within her methodology courses, Meyers collects historical artifacts and primary source documents — including a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s hat, a small wagon wheel and a Revolutionary War lantern — that she puts into “Mystery History” boxes, trunks or suitcases. She asks students to identify what the objects have in common, their purpose and their era.
- Often bringing Play-Doh, paints and other art supplies with her to class, Meyers loves to incorporate visual arts into any subject. She also collaborates with the Alliance Theater to teach future and current educators about using drama to explore storytelling within literacy and social studies lessons. Thanks to her creative nature, she’s the program coordinator for a new graduate program, the Master of Arts in Creative & Innovative Education (MACIE), that encourages educators, entrepreneurs and artists to explore the development of children’s creative thinking.
- As an artist scholar, Meyers collaborates across Atlanta’s theater and film communities. She has written plays for and acted in the Atlanta One-Minute Play Festival that takes place annually at Actor’s Express and has been an actor, set designer and assistant producer for Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre. Meyers has been a writer, assistant director, director, set designer, actor and producer for independent films, including the Atlanta 48-Hour Film Project, Project Twenty1: Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival, and Critical Crop Top.
- For many years, Meyers and her therapy dog Sullivan visited thousands of classrooms where Sullivan acted as a teaching and motivational tool for young learners. For example, children who were too shy to read aloud with peers or adults would warm up to the Australian Shepherd and read in front of him. Teachers asked students to write stories about Sullivan’s adventures or even design an ideal doghouse for him.
- Meyers is a selection committee member for the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, an annual reading list from the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council. The list contains the year’s best books written for elementary, middle and high school students in social studies classrooms. So it’s no surprise she always has stacks of picture books and novels to read and review.
This story originally ran in the Fall 2016 issue of IN Magazine, the college’s biannual magazine.