Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deb Nickles earns statewide educator award for her dedication to students’ success

Deb Nickles is noted for going the extra mile to help students achieve their potential

By Chillicothe Campus PR Student Employee Lindsay Shirk

OU-C Writing Center Coordinator and English faculty member Deb Nickles has received the Ohio Council for Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA) Outstanding Language Arts Educator Award in the Special Distinction category.

The award is given to educators who demonstrate excellence inside and outside of the classroom through leadership and advocacy for language arts and improved student learning. Ruth McClain, OU-C English professor, nominated Nickles because of her commitment to the English program and to student success.

“Anyone fortunate enough to sit under Deb’s tutelage knows, without question, that not only is she intellectually gifted but also innovative and knowledgeable, exacting from her student and co-workers the best of talents, time, and energy,” says McClain. “Deb fully understands that writing is more than just mechanics and seeks to engage students in the larger process of effective communication.”

In addition to teaching English courses, Nickles coordinates the OU-C Writing Center in the Learning Commons. She has also created a local chapter of NCTE National Writing Gallery where OU-C students, faculty and staff can submit their works online. In 2011, Deb helped publish “Glass Enclosures,” showcasing the best of student and alumni writing. In addition, she served as co-director for the Ohio University Appalachian Writing Project from 2008 to 2010.

Nickles, who has worked at OU-C since the fall of 2007, provides opportunities for student growth through intimate classroom experiences and focused programs. Co-workers and students of Nickles continually attest to her passion as an educator.

“Deb is passionate about teaching English and improving the quality of instruction at the university. As a teacher, she is known for her ability to create a supportive classroom community while still providing a rigorous course. She shares her life experiences with her students in a genuine and unguarded fashion despite her position of authority,” says Sarah Cook, former student and current co-worker of Nickles in the Writing Center. “She is beyond generous with her time, praise, and dedication to helping students achieve.”

Matthew Givens, former student of Nickles, portrayed Nickles’ interest in her students’ experiences as a source for learning.

“Professor Nickles celebrates her students’ varied experiences and the unique ideas they bring to the campus, and in doing so, encourages all of us to learn from each other,” said Givens.

Writing Center tutor Lisa Southwick also confirmed the positive impact Nickles has had on her OU-C experience.

“She believes understanding each student’s individual situation, needs, and abilities is the key to helping our tutees excel. This attitude has lead to an enjoyable and educational experience for both tutor and tutee. As a writing tutor I have learned some of the most valuable lessons of my college career while watching Professor Nickles work with my fellow students,” said Southwick.

Nickles appreciate the award but also draws attention to those who have helped her along the way.

“I am absolutely honored by an opportunity to bring attention not only to the work I do but also to the excellent endeavors of my colleagues and student tutors at Ohio University-Chillicothe. I have had the joy and privilege of learning from and working with a brilliant cadre of educators and students who have all contributed to my own personal development and growth as an English educator,” said Nickles.

Nickles will be recognized at the OCTELA Spring Conference luncheon on March 9 at the Doubletree Hotel in Worthington.

Nickles earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Ohio University and her master’s degree in English with a concentration in literary criticism from Ohio University.

Chillicothe Campus faculty member Michael Lafreniere recognized for innovative teaching methods

OU-C faculty member Michael Lafreniere has been recognized for his innovative ‘collaboratory’ approach to teaching, which uses technology to create a more student-focused and engaged learning environment. The project is supported by an 1804 Grant he was awarded by the Ohio University Foundation.

Lafreniere’s work was selected as one of the top five improvements to make WebAssign (the software that is used in some mathematics classes at OU-C). It is part of the company’s “Make your voice Heard” contest.

In describing how he has used the software in his class, Lafreniere noted, “This has allowed me to greatly emphasize the conceptual learning by my students versus simply seeking the answer. Students are presented an endless range of exercises that allow for highly supportive practicing.”

An article is available online at:

More information about Lafreniere’s project is available online at

Lafreniere, an assistant professor, teaches environmental engineering and mathematics courses. Lafreniere, who joined the OU-C faculty in 1994, earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Florida.

OU-C Student Service staff members share insights about college options on local radio program

OU-C Director of Student Services John Fisher and Student Recruitment Coordinator Neeley Clary recently were guests on WBEX Radio’s “Sounding Board” program.

This opportunity allows the campus to share some of its most important, and impactful, messages with members of the community it serves so that area residents are aware of OU-C’s offerings. In emphasizing the Chillicothe Campus’ role as a gateway to higher education and the benefits of the college experience, among the topics they discussed were the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) that allows high school students to get a jump-start on their college careers and the campus’ efforts to engage with area high schools to create a pathway to higher education.

A podcast of the interview is available online at:

Partnership to create educational garden at OU-C Child Development Center

The local office of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service-Chillicothe and Ohio University-Chillicothe have formed a partnership to plant and tend to a new People’s Garden at the Ross County/Ohio University-Chillicothe Child Development and Family Service Center.

These two organizations are in the planning stages of the works to be completed this spring. The proposed projects include a Pollinator Butterfly Garden in the courtyard at the Child Development Center and planting wildlife and native plants in the detention storm water area just below the center. The partnership plans to prepare a vegetable garden for 2013.

The project will benefit the approximately 300 youths who utilized the center’s resources by offering an interactive, educational look at the wonders of nature.

The preschool children at the Center will be able to study the life cycle of butterflies and identify plants that attract them. They will observe the wildlife and native plants in the land just below the Center. Small descriptive signage will explain their conservation purpose for the community to see as they tour the building. The collaborative project will benefit the community by absorbing storm water run-off and protect soil erosion near the Child Development Center. These plants will be observed by preschool children through the years.

This project is to commemorate the People’s Department that was founded by Abraham Lincoln in USDA in 1862.

Upcoming events celebrate campus’ commitment to classes, culture and community

Upcoming campus events allow for members of the OU-C and local communities to enjoy cultural offerings and to celebrate the official opening of a facility that has the potential to impact both the campus and community.

Renowned professor to deliver Black History Month address

Amritjit Singh, Ph.D., the Langston Hughes Professor of English at Ohio University, will speak on “Challenges of Migration and Citizenship: African Americans and Asian Americans, 1850-1925” at 2 p.m. on Feb. 18 in the Bennett Hall auditorium at Ohio University-Chillicothe. The talk, which is sponsored by OU-C’s cultural committee to celebrate Black History Month, is free and open to the public.

The time period that Singh will address is an era of internal migration of African-Americans from the South, from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance. These experiences will be compared with the legal and immigration challenges Asians faced in their search for “home” and U.S. citizenship during the same period.

The speaker is an internationally respected poet and published scholar on African American, South Asian, and diverse cultural and literary politics.

Dedication events are slated for OU-C Technology and Business Development Center

Dedication events will be held for Ohio University-Chillicothe’s newly renovated Technology and Business Development Center from Feb. 21 through Feb. 23. The building, which became operational with the beginning of winter quarter classes Jan. 3, serves as a milestone in supporting OU-C’s mission of serving its students and serving its region.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 21. Speakers include Martin Tuck, dean of the Chillicothe Campus; Richard Bebee, dean emeritus of OU-C; Gary Cates, senior vice chancellor for innovation and enterprise development, Ohio Board of Regents; Marvin Jones, president and CEO, Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce; and Lynn Gellermann, director of the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship and executive director, TechGROWTH OHIO.

Local business leaders and OU-C Regional Coordinating Council members Larry Gates and Carvel Simmons will share their insights during a free lunch for OU-C student at noon on Feb. 22 in the center’s conference room. During the lunch, students will have the opportunity to interact with these local business professionals and entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences.

On Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, a “Quick Pitch” session will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and a “Money, Management and Marketing” business development workshop will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.

The “quick pitch” is designed for OU-C students who are interested in starting their own business to share their ideas and gain insights from representatives of SCORE and the Ohio State University South Center.

The workshop will focus on “How to start a business” and will feature relevant insights from individuals with SCORE and the OSU South Center.

OU-C students interested in participating in any or all of these events should contact Winda Joseph by e-mail at

Hilltopper basketball teams to begin ORCC tourney

OU-C's athletics program adds to the vitality of campus life
Ohio University-Chillicothe’s basketball teams will soon begin competition in the Ohio Regional Campus Conference statewide tournament this coming weekend.

The women’s team will host the first two rounds of the tournament in the Shoemaker Center on Feb. 18-19. The Hilltoppers open play against Ohio State-Mansfield at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with the winner advancing to take on No. 1 seed OU-Lancaster at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The men’s team begins tournament play at OU-Zanesville at 5 p.m. Saturday, with the winner facing the Wayne Campus squad at 5 p.m. on Sunday at OU-Zanesville.

The final four for both the men’s and women’s teams will be Feb. 25-26 at Miami-Middletown.

The women’s team enters the tourney with a record of 6-16 overall and 3-7 in the ORCC, while the men’s team is 13-16 overall and 7-6 in the conference.