Tuesday, December 20, 2011

OU-C education students learn value of volunteerism while gaining practical insights

About a dozen future teachers from Ohio University-Chillicothe spent their holiday break helping current teachers while gaining important insights into their future profession. The OU-C early education students are spending 20 hours each assisting teachers and students at Tiffin Elementary School in Chillicothe.

“We wanted to give the students an opportunity to use their talents to give back to the community as well as see the workings of a school beyond what happens in the classroom,” said OU-C early education faculty member Jamie Harmount, who organized the volunteer initiative. “This type of experience complements what the students learn in the classroom. To be a successful educator, you must be willing to ‘pay forward’ and use your talent to help others, and this helps to emphasize that concept.”

Among their tasks, the OU-C teacher-candidate volunteers worked one-on-one with students in different subjects such as reading and math. They also worked with students who have special needs and assisted on special projects for the teachers such as helping with a field trip.

The OU-C students are able to gain valuable insights from this experience that are applicable in their studies and future careers.

“Often, experience is the best teacher, and I have been able to learn things that you cannot get from textbooks,” Beth Mabeavers, a Greenfield McClain High School graduate, said. “I was able to see that all students learn differently and it is important to adjust accordingly.”

“I was able to observe and learn helpful teaching strategies by seeing how the teachers interacted with the students and the tactics they used,” said Abby Hartley, a Huntington High School graduate who worked with students in intervention programs as well as assisting in classrooms. “It was interesting to observe teachers interacting differently with students and seeing how various styles are effective.”

OU-C student Hope Haskell of Towanda, Pa, said, “I have been able to do the same things that teachers actually do on the job and get used to the classroom routine. I was also able to work one-on-one with some students, which was very helpful.”

For Jennifer Walters, a graduate of DeGraff Riverside High School, the experience reaffirmed her career choice. “Having this experience, I feel like I picked the right career, which is very reassuring.”

Jordan DeWitt, a Chillicothe High School graduate, said, “I always liked helping kids, and this offered an opportunity to tutor some students and give them the help they need to succeed in the classroom.”

The teachers and administrators at Tiffin Elementary are thankful for the helping hand the OU-C students provided.

“The OU-C students have been fantastic and have been very helpful for both the teachers and the students they assisted,” Tiffin Elementary Principal Quincey Gray said. “I have received a lot of positive feedback from the teachers. There are several projects going on during the holidays, and the students’ assistance has been very helpful.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Measuring the real value of higher education in this region

Following is a Chillicothe Gazette op-ed piece by Ohio University-Chillicothe Dean Martin Tuck about the value of the Chillicothe Campus educational experience in impacting residents of the region it serves.

We have adopted the phrase “Gateway to Your Promise” to describe the value of the Ohio University-Chillicothe educational experience. You may have noticed area billboards with that message. However, more than just a catchphrase or marketing slogan, these four words capture the essence of higher education in making a difference in people’s lives.

On the Chillicothe Campus, with its unique mission as a regional campus, this phrase represents what we are all about. As with any enterprise, what really matters is how people are impacted, and that is certainly true when it comes to higher education. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Chillicothe Campus to offer the type of higher educational experience that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of area residents.

The first step in this process involves the campus’ access mission, which is the “gateway” of this entire proposition. At OU-C, we are committed to ensuring area residents are able to pursue a quality education at an affordable price. As a commuter campus, OU-C is uniquely structured so that we are able to contain costs and help to ensure that tuition does not become an insurmountable burden.

We also look to make college education accessible through a personable approach. Through OU-C’s “Open House Friday” initiative, prospective students can learn about the college admission process and the academic offerings of our campus in a relaxed and friendly setting. Further, students from this region can find their comfort level on the Chillicothe Campus. Most of our students are from this region, and we enroll a roughly equal mix of traditional students and more veteran learners, so students rarely feel as if they are alone when facing the challenge of pursuing a college education.

Fulfilling the “promise” part of the message involves both intangible and tangible benefits. For example, attending college offers the opportunity for exposure to academic and cultural offerings that expand students’ horizons and challenge them to look at their world from a different perspective. Also, obtaining a college degree allows individuals to follow career paths that match their interests and passions so they are eager to go to work each day. And, we want them to be able to pursue their career in this region, if they so choose. Therefore, we strive to align our academic offerings with emerging career fields found in the South Central Ohio region.

Statistics spell out the more tangible proof of the benefit of a college education. Information from the U.S. Census Bureau points out that individuals with college degrees earn more and face lower unemployment rates than others. A recent report indicates that individuals with a high school diploma, on average, earn $1.2 million in lifetime wages, compared to $2.1 million for individuals with bachelor’s degrees and $2.5 million for those holding master’s degrees. Further, the average unemployment rate in 2010 for individuals with high school diplomas was 10.3 percent, compared to 7 percent for individuals with an associate degree, 5.4 percent for those holding bachelor’s degrees and 4 percent for employees with master’s degrees.

By several measurements, the “Gateway to Your Promise” represents a path to opportunity that underscores the Chillicothe Campus’ mission.