Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Early childhood education class students take enlightening field trip

OU-C education students recently visited Pioneer School and met with residents of a local assisted living rest home facility.

By public relations student writer Madison Corbin

Ohio University Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education Jamie Harmount is cultivating and continuing an invaluable tradition with her students and Ross County Developmental Disabilities’ Pioneer School. 

This marks the fifth year in which students studying Early Childhood Education at OU-C have been invited to learn about services and programs offered at Pioneer School.  The visit serves as an enlightening field trip for the “Diversity in Early Childhood Education” course. 
This year, students were given the opportunity to tour the facility and witness an emotionally moving sign choir class.  Pioneer School teacher Josh Tripp organized the event in coordination with Harmount and her class. 

Tripp suggested the first visit when he was a student himself in Harmount’s class.  He was simultaneously working as an aide at Pioneer School and saw the potential impact an encounter with Pioneer School could have on his classmates.  His resourceful idea resulted in a successful and recurring field trip for many classes to come.

“Once I was there and witnessed the children and the staff, I knew I would want to take all of my students to have the opportunity to visit Pioneer,” said Harmount.

Following a day of observation, students return to campus to discuss and reflect upon their learning experiences.  According to Harmount, the reflections are often unanimously positive and some students even express an awakened desire to pursue Special Education, a career about which they were not fully aware.  A common theme among class members’ reports is the acknowledgment and admiration of Pioneer School staff members’ undeniable enthusiasm.
“I believe the field trip to Pioneer helps to eliminate the stigma placed on children with developmental disabilities,” said Harmount. “My students, as future teachers, see the impact that working one-on-one with children can make.”

The field trip to Pioneer School is one of many ways in which Harmount and her students work to become an integral part of the community, while learning valuable lessons from the diverse collections of individuals who compose it.

The early childhood education students are known to take trips to the Amish Produce Auction and the David Nickens Heritage Center over the course of the class’ completion.  They have also visited the Alzheimer’s and Dementia units of National Church Residences Nursing Home to deliver flowers and homemade vases to residents. 

“My goal is to take these future teachers out of their comfort zone and expose them to ways of life that they may not otherwise experience,” said Harmount.

The appreciation for community service appears to follow OU-C early childhood education students beyond graduation and well into their lives.  Harmount was recently able to organize an enthusiastic group of graduates to attend and participate in the Ross County Domestic Violence Casino Night on campus.

“I believe community service and volunteering is very important to instill into our teacher candidates,” said Harmount. “The community provides many resources to teachers, and it’s important that these future teachers learn to give back.”

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