As a 10th grade math teacher, content lead, and new teacher coordinator in Athens, Georgia, Elesha Coons’ job is more than a paycheck; it’s her purpose. Elesha (BSED ’14) is committed to youth empowerment. Outside the classroom, Elesha hosts youth conferences that promote identity, purpose, unity and service through her organization, Don’t Lose Yourself, Inc. Inside the classroom, she empowers her students by making math engaging and accessible. She uses mathematical discourse to develop students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics and higher-order thinking skills so they can confidently pursue their dreams, regardless of their backgrounds.
An alumna of the University of Georgia, Elesha takes pride in the “cutting-edge” learning experience she received from the College of Education (COE). Describing it as “rich with innovative ideas about math education,” she recognizes she is able to give her students a similar experience, as a result of the quality of education she received and the support of those who give to the university. For these reasons – and as a thank you for the scholarship support she received as a student –she donates to the COE’s 1908 Club, a recurring gift club that supports education majors who are facing financial obstacles to earning their degrees.
“I give to make sure all students have the resources they need to focus on their education, instead of working to make ends meet, and to ensure that students have the financial support they need to complete a life-changing experience at the University of Georgia.”
“Student teaching is a full-time job,” says Elesha, who worked full-time, while also juggling the demands of her college career. Elesha received the Del Jones Memorial Scholarship and the Mary Murphy Robinson Scholarship while fulfilling her student-teaching requirement, and these scholarships provided her with the means to give 100 percent to her student-teaching experience. Elesha not only finished the semester strong, but she was nominated for the Joseph R. Hooten, Jr. Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education due to her extraordinary student-teaching performance.
“I am so grateful for the giants whose shoulders and sacrifices I stood upon to complete school. The support of my family, professors like Dr. Conner, Dr. Kaplan, and Dr. Moore, and the scholarships I received were a part of the many contributions and experiences that reinforced a sense of community and that made me feel a greater responsibility to exemplify my gratitude through an unwavering commitment to my studies. I am dedicated to giving back so that future generations are also supported throughout their college careers.”
Along with making monthly contributions to COE, Elesha serves on the college’s alumni board and returns to campus to share advice with current UGA students. She has served as a panelist on many occasions, including the Teaching Teens Panel, A Day of Professional Development for Mentor Teachers Panel, Elevate Georgia Panel, Meet and Greet for Mathematics Education Panel, First-Year Teacher Colloquium Panel, and has been a guest speaker for the mathematics education course on diversity.
“I love giving back and supporting the university that gave me such an amazing start in my field.”