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GMC News

GMC-Union City Professor Links Present With Past

By Charlotte Newbury
South Fulton Neighbor Staff Writer

For many years, Mary Helen Davis fought against what her family thought she should do with her career – teach.

But six years ago fate stepped in and she lost that battle, much to her satisfaction and that of her students.

After working 15 years for the Department of Family and Children\’s Services in Eatonton, Miss., Ms. Davis went to the Milledgeville campus of Georgia Military College (GMC) to register for a non-credit course.

As fate would have it, before she left the campus that day, she had been hired as a part-time social studies teacher.

\”It was the strangest thing,\” she said. \”The school wanted me to take a placement test , and I asked them why because I had a college degree. They then asked me if I would like a job.\”

That was six years ago and since then she has progressed from a part-time history professor at GMC-Milledgeville campus to a full-time associate professor of Social Studies at GMC\’s Union City campus.

Her students are glad she changed careers because she makes learning history fun, they say.

\”She is so laid back, \” said Lori Sumner of Sharpsburg, one of her students. \”I so dreaded a two-hour history course, but the time flies by.\”

Ms. Sumner said her daughters had also been students of Ms. Davis and told her she needed to take one of her classes.

According to GMC Director Jim Price, what makes Ms. Davis one of the school\’s favorite teachers is her creativity in blending and meshing the past with the present.

On a wall in Ms. Davis\’ class, a poster reads, \”Life\’s a Beach – Where History Comes Alive.\”

\”I taught the students about what has happened at beaches around the world throughout history and now some of the students have told me every time they go to the beach, they remember our classroom discussions,\” Ms. Davis said.

Ms. Davis said she teaches like a soap opera, trying to show how current events can be traced back to past history.

As an example, Ms. Davis said, her classes have studied the Incas and have incorporated current festivals, like the Mardi Gras, back to its origin.

\”Now, when students go to some of the festivals, they have a better understanding of the event,\” she said.

Kimberly Locke of Riverdale, a pre-nursing student, said Ms. Davis makes students like history, even when they are determined not to.

\”She makes it very interesting,\” she said.

Ms. Davis doesn\’t know how she became interested in history, except to say it was a course of study, which required the least amount of math.

\”My wish is that everybody could get an education and enjoy it,\” she said.