Friday, October 24, 2014

Memorial stone, and campus-community efforts, rededicated to honor domestic violence victims

A rededication ceremony for a new memorial stone that recognizes local victims of domestic violence was recently held in the area between Bennett Hall and the Stevenson Center at Ohio University-Chillicothe.

Doug Hayburn, the owner of Southern Ohio Monument Company in Chillicothe, donated the memorial stone, which continues the memory of area individuals whose lives have been cut short by domestic violence. The new stone, made of jet black granite, includes the names of 19 Ross County residents who have lost their lives to domestic violence since 1986. It replaces the former memorial stone, which included the names of a dozen victims who died between 1986 and 1996.

Members of the campus and local community participated in the rededication event.

Following introductory remarks, OU-C student Traci Hall opened the program by reading the poem “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. Shea Williams closed with “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson.

A proclamation was issued on behalf of Chillicothe Mayor Jack Everson. As the proclamation read, “Too many area individuals have had their lives shattered, and some have even lost their lives to this heinous crime. However, the efforts of individuals and groups in this region to combat domestic violence are also unceasing. They are determined that those who have suffered, and even died, at the hands of their abusers will not be forgotten … Therefore, today we are rededicating both a memorial stone as well as the efforts to end this senseless violence through both education and action.”

“Our mission is to ensure that another name is not added to this memorial stone,” said Mandy Sullivan-Dyke, executive director of the Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Domestic violence is non-discriminatory. It impacts all segments of society.”

Sullivan-Dyke spoke of the impact of domestic violence and those who feel its brunt.

“The impact is different for each family and each victim,” she said. “Since the abuser is often the bread-winner in the family, often the victims leave the situation with only the clothes on their backs. One of our goals is to get children out of that environment and break the cycle of violence.”

The Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the OU-C FOCUS Program are sponsors of the memorial stone. The OU-C FOCUS program, which ended in the 1990s, created the original stone.

“We need to help educate young boys and girls that domestic violence is not acceptable. This stone helps it to become more visible about this family and community curse,” said Diane Diekroger, a former FOCUS director.

“I am proud to be part of a community that stands in the gap to make a difference,” OU-C Associate Dean Brenda Phillips said. “I want to thank our faculty and staff members for the work they do to make a difference in the community.”

There was also a silent auction to raise funds for the Ross County Coalition against Domestic Violence. The events align with October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The memorial stone was moved from its previous location, closer to Stevenson Center, to its current, more prominent location near the walkway leading to the building, after OU-C faculty members noticed the stone but were unaware of its origin. Research determined it was created by the OU-C FOCUS Program, which began the current effort. A similar ceremony was held in October 2013 to dedicate the new location, with plans for this new stone and the additional names.

OU-C professor infuses education with technology for improved student experience

Michael Lafreniere (left) is shown with student Scott Limle.

By public relations student writer Madison Corbin
Michael Lafreniere, associate professor of environmental engineering and mathematics at OU-C, is making an impact on students’ learning experiences by taking advantage of technology and getting creative with his classroom structure. His development and implementation of strategic and experimental teaching models on campus also supports the betterment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) offerings on campus. 

Lafreniere’s motivations fit well with some of OU-Cs most prominent values, as he continuously contributes to the cultivation of community learning on campus.

Lafreniere is sharing his advanced teaching techniques with not only students, but also his peers. He has been invited to speak on a wide range of college campuses including Arizona State University, Northwest Florida State College as well as Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. He has also shared insights about the growing use of technology in academia through National Webinars, which produce web-based training events for professionals.

“The classroom structure I use is called the ‘Collaboratory,’” said Lafreniere, clarifying that the goal of his method is “to help students engage and focus on active learning in the classroom.”

Lafreniere provides lecture-like content to his students through videos posted on YouTube, allowing them flexibility to access and study the material at home.  By tracking his students’ patterns of viewing the videos, he can more accurately assess areas of concern.  In class, students work collaboratively to solve problems using tools such as a team-driven note-taking software called DyKnow and online assessment software called Enhanced WebAssign.

Lafreniere’s thoughtfully developed strategy equips students with comprehensive coverage of material, aiming to better their long-term retention and improve their ability to apply math skills widely and frequently throughout their lives.

“Students capture the highly symbolic nature of mathematics with digital ink from the instructor, fellow students, and their own writings, all of which can be played back like a recording for reflection and deepening of conceptual understanding,” Lafreniere said.

Lafreniere’s students readily express their satisfaction with his practices.

“He has helped a phenomenal amount,” says environmental engineering student James Alley.  “He has a great concern for student success in terms of both education and our futures.”

Because of this course-structure’s flexible nature, Lafreniere takes time to remain available and responsive to his students beyond classroom hours.  His ability to communicate quick tips and direct students to online items has resulted in a growing database of additional resources for classes to come.

Lafreniere’s ultimate goal is “to address the large number of students needing help completing developmental mathematics and to navigate their pathway to higher education STEM opportunities.”

Trick or Treat Extravaganza provides fun for area families and service-learning opportunity for OU-C students

By OU-C public relations student writer Megan Valentine

On Oct. 31, area families will fill the Shoemaker Center gym for an evening of Halloween activities during the ninth annual Trick or Treat Extravaganza (TOTE). However, for members of Ohio University-Chillicothe’s Human Services Association (HSA) student club, the event is about much more than spooky fun. The event lasts from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Details are available online at

As an organization, HSA aims to engage members by offering opportunities to aid social service agencies, organize fundraisers, educate others and raise awareness about local issues. The students also develop a variety of skills through their involvement including networking, group work, professional ethics and problem solving.

“It is one thing to talk about goal setting, decision making and interventions in class; it is yet another experience to see the work of the students in action and knowing they will go forward in life with deeply ingrained skills and the knowledge of how to help diverse people. We have watched students mentor each other, support great causes and have fun learning,” Human Services Technology program coordinator Barbara Mahaffey said of the students’ experiences.

TOTE, in particular, offers both HSA members and those in attendance the chance to experience hands-on service learning. Donations of canned goods for the Good Samaritan Network and gently used clothing for the Children's Clothing Bank are highly encouraged. Some OU-C students will be hosting safety demonstrations, and others will be helping community organizations, social service agencies and elected officials pass out free candy to the children in a safe environment.

In addition to supplying bounce houses, arts and crafts, face painting, games, prizes and candy for families who may not be able to take their children door to door for Trick or Treat, TOTE offers an accessible environment for many disabled children and adults who depend on this event as a means to celebrate the holiday.

Students involved with the planning of TOTE and other HSA-sponsored events place great value on the deeper meaning behind their work.

“Knowing you are helping people who may otherwise be forgotten is extremely gratifying. It's one thing to go to school, work and live in Chillicothe. It's a whole other thing to actually know, talk with and smile with the people within our community,” said president Joanna Graham.

“Giving back and being part of organizations that raise funds and host events strengthens the community as a whole. All HSA students not only experience the joy of giving back to the community, but many learn great skills and gain self-esteem along the way,” added Graham.

Samantha Rearley finds her personal passion, professional pursuit through efforts to curb domestic violence

What began as a class project has evolved into a personal mission and her professional calling for OU-C student Samantha Rearley.

Rearley was a driving force behind the silent auction this week to benefit the Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RCCADV), working with fellow students as well as faculty and staff members to secure donations. Last spring, she undertook the rigorous task of organizing a successful “Casino Night” fund-raiser to benefit the coalition.

The spark behind these endeavors is a “Violence Against Women” sociology class Rearley took during spring semester 2014.

“For a group project, Sam helped develop a proposal to help create a resource center for OU-C students affected by domestic violence,” said Marguerite Hernandez, who taught the class.

Following up on the class project, Rearley then organized the Casino Night event, recruiting both donations and community volunteers, including Chillicothe Mayor Jack A. Everson.

“Clearly, Sam did not accomplish this ambitious and impressive project for a grade in a class, but because of her strong commitment to addressing domestic violence,” Hernandez said.

Rearley’s motivation is found in helping others and her community.

“All of the brave women I have had the opportunity to help through the RCCADV have their own tragic story,” Rearley said. “To know what obstacles the have overcome and to see them go through the highs of lows of gaining independence while becoming self-sufficient, and then to see the tears of joy when they accomplish their goals is what motivates me.”

“Also, around 50 percent of the clients the coalition helps are current or former OU-C students, so their efforts hit home on campus. Domestic violence is a big deal that involves men, women and children and which impacts Ross County,” Rearley said.

Rearley’s efforts have given her a compass for her future pursuits.

“In my career, I want to see where I can go with working with the coalition or maybe another similar non-profit organization. I really feel I have found my calling,” Rearley said. “My academic interests and personal passions are all coming together in a way that has given me a career focus.”

Rearley, a senior, is majoring in women, gender and sexuality, as well as sociology/criminology. A graduate of Unioto High School, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Ohio University’s graduate counseling program.