E. Hall area native earns inaugural UNG scholarship

Lauren Payne is the first recipient of the Dr. Sidney Benton Endowed Mathematics Educator Scholarship.

Payne, a May graduate with a degree in mathematics with teacher certification, knew early that she wanted to be a math teacher.  

“I could explain things in a way that people could understand it,” the Gillsville native said. “So, I decided to make it a career.” 

Benton taught at what was then North Georgia College for 20 years starting in 1975, earning the Fieldale Professorship of Teacher Education and later earning professor emeritus status in retirement. While at UNG, he received the Distinguished Professor Award and was head of Graduate Studies and Testing.  

Because his favorite years of teaching mathematics were at the junior high and high school levels, Benton wanted to help those who were planning to teach mathematics at those levels with this scholarship. 

Payne expressed gratitude for the $1,000 scholarship Benton’s generosity allowed her to have, noting it helped pay for her final semester. 

“It’s really nice that Dr. Benton is supporting the newer generation of teachers. We need that support from the more experienced educators of the world,” Payne said. “We can’t get to where they are without their support.”