The Harrison High School senior is following her passion and choosing to go into special education.
Surratt helps with a special education class at the school and said she is amazed at what the students are able to accomplish.
The 18-year-old is attending the University of Alabama in the fall. She will receive a full-ride scholarship though the University Fellows experience. The program is for the top 30 students accepted into Alabama’s freshman class.
According to the university’s website, the program “strives to prepare the most able and dedicated students at the University of Alabama for remarkable lives of leadership in and service to their community, state, nation and world.”
She also received the National Merit Scholarship, which less than 1 percent of applicants receive. It awards $2,500, according to collegedata.com.
Less than 0.07 percent of ACT test takers receive a perfect score, according to ACT.org, making Surratt’s accomplishments truly rare.
But Surratt enjoys talking about the accomplishments of the students she works with. One story she tells is about a student named Nick, who she taught to do math with a calculator. After months of teaching and pushing him to learn, one day something clicked for the student and he was able to do the math without a calculator. Moments like those are what she enjoys about special education.
“I love the way they think,” she said.
She first got interested in working with special needs students after befriending a girl named Macy Fritz, who has Down syndrome.
Surratt said the students are more intelligent than they get credit for, citing as an example that they can read and write.
Surratt was driven to get a perfect ACT score by her 20-year-old sister, Emily, a current University of Alabama student majoring in speech pathology, who got a 35 on the test. Always competitive, Caroline Surratt wanted to score one point higher and get a perfect score, which she did this year.
A teacher she has worked with extensively this year is Ed Geiger, who teaches students in the Moderately Intellectually Disabled program at Harrison.
“She’s wise beyond her years, and she never has an off day,” Geiger said.
Geiger said the students like working with Surratt, but she also knows when to push them to be better. He said the most impressive thing about her is her consistency.
Geiger said the fact that Surratt chose education out of the numerous fields available to her is a credit to the teaching profession.
“She’s following her heart,” he said.
Geiger also credits Surratt with pioneering the use of Smart Boards in the classroom. Smart Boards turn what looks like a traditional white board into an interactive teaching tool, including touch screen features. Surratt has created her own teaching lessons using the new technology.
Her mother, Maria Surratt, talked about why her daughter chose special education as a major.
“I think one of the things that really inspires Caroline to work with kids with special needs is that she feels that they can do so much more than people realize,” said Maria Surratt.
“She is constantly trying to figure out ways to teach them new things. When she comes home from school, one of the first things she talks about is what her ‘special friends’ did at school today. I am really going to miss that when she goes off to college.”
Maria Surratt said her daughter is able to participate in so many extracurricular activities such as National Honor Society, Beta Club, Latin Honor Society, cross country, track, crafting and piano lessons in addition to achieving a 4.45 GPA because she never sleeps. She says her daughter works on assignments deep into the night and starts again early the next morning.
Caroline Surratt agrees that she doesn’t need or get much sleep.
In the future, Caroline Surratt said she sees herself getting a master’s degree from Alabama, which also would be covered by her scholarship, and then teaching in a special education classroom.
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series spotlighting some of Cobb County’s outstanding members of the class of 2014. Candidates are selected by their schools, which consider criteria such as the students’ GPA, extra-curricular activities and general attitude in and out of the classroom.