Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ohio University alumni share career insights on the field of education during recent panel discussion

By public relations student writer Leah Sternberger

Ohio University-Chillicothe Career Services and the Ohio University Alumni Association recently hosted OU-C's first Bobcat to Bobcat Panel. During the dinner event, OU-C students and faculty had the opportunity to hear from several panelists who offered practical advice about preparing for careers in the field of education.

The panel was moderated by Jennifer Domo, Ohio University instructor and director of the Science Co Operative of Elementary Students (SCOPES) Academy at Unioto School District.
The three panelists are all Ohio University alumni who took time to share their perspectives with current Chillicothe Campus students. The panelists represent a variety of educational backgrounds, which provided a breadth of experience and advice for the current students, providing an in-depth look into their chosen profession.

The panelists covered a range of educational topics such as how to approach their jobs on a daily basis, connecting with students, creating a dynamic classroom environment and career paths that education graduates can pursue.

Students and attendees also had the opportunity to ask the panelists questions about their experiences.

The panelists emphasized the human side of the education field and the importance of the “soft” skills that are gained outside of the traditional classroom learning.

Panelist Brent Taylor, principal of Warren Middle School in Vincent, is a former OU-C student and graduate of Miami (Ohio) University. He later earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Ashland University. Taylor’s role in the discussion was vital in gaining perspective about working in educational administration.

“Get to know your students,” Taylor said. “It is important to gain an appreciation of where they are from and what they face every day. Get into the neighborhoods and know the kids. That will make you a better educator.”

“I encourage you to become involved in extra-curricular activities and to see the kids in a different light. That also helps to build rapport with the students,” Taylor said.

“Also, you need to be able to listen,” Taylor advised. “Sometimes students need to have an outlet. Be supportive and do not overreact. You will find there are conditions in the kids’ lives that are beyond your control.”

Panelist Libby Arnold has 35 years of experience teaching middle school students at the Warren Local school District in Washington County. Arnold has been an active mentor throughout her career and has supervised more than a dozen student teaching interns from Ohio University, Marietta College and Ohio Valley University. She holds a masters of education degree in educational media from Ohio University, and she serves as the secretary for her local education association.

“It is important to have a passion for the profession,” Arnold said. “Students have changed over the years but I still enjoy every day on the job.”

“The biggest skill that I seek in future teachers is collaboration. You need to be a collaborator. There is a lot of material available to use in the classroom, and you need to bounce it off of others. You are not on an island, and you need to work with other people,” Arnold said.

“Also, the use of technology is an important ability to have. Any time you have the opportunity to learn the use of a new technology, say ‘yes.’ This is the type of thing you can discuss at a job interview,” Arnold said.

The third panelist, Karen Corcoran, serves as the program coordinator of the middle childhood education program at OU-C. Corcoran is also the regional coordinator of professional internships in teaching for OU-C. Additionally, she is a consultant for Gallia Vinton Educational Service Center and leads the residency program in Wellston City Schools. She has previously served as a faculty member at the University of Rio Grande. Corcoran also has experience teaching family and consumer economics at Urbana City Schools, Bishop Flaget School and Paint Valley Local Schools.

Corcoran said, “I tell my students at OU-C that the things we cannot teach you are to have love and joy in your heart for the students and for your job. You need to love teaching students. Otherwise, it can be a very tough job.”

“The only thing we can count on is that there will be change,” Corcoran said. “Help people navigate these changes and be positive. Remember that students are the reason we go to work each day.”

“I value people skills and the ability to nurture students, think on your feet and multi-task. You also have to be willing to work extra hours,” Corcoran said.

Ohio University-Chillicothe Career Services and the Ohio University Alumni Association hope to host similar panels in the future to give OU-C students the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.