Friday, November 13, 2015

Sharles' Study Abroad: Breaking Barriers

The classes are in full swing here at De Klinker. The students are lively and energized with each new day. I am visiting various classrooms on a regular basis. The American grade level equivalent to these classes would be from Pre-Kindergarten through early Fourth grade. The more I visit the students, the more I realize the barriers that come between us. Some of these barriers I am experiencing are totally new to me. As I face these new circumstances I must begin to adapt my teaching practices by applying new and unfamiliar strategies. This can sometimes be a very challenging task depending on extremity of the barrier. However, it is important to keep in mind that the barriers we face as professional educators prove to help us grow continually in our approach to instruction in addition to improving our relationships with students.

In the the Pre-K classroom, many students express excitement when I come into their room. Some will stop what they are doing and say,”Hello Miss Casey” while others will greet me with a hug. Even yet, some students will come and immediately begin talking to me in Dutch. I can see by their facial expressions and body language that they are excited by this interaction. By now, there are some words that I understand and I can sometimes recognize key phrases that will help me talk with them. However, more times than not I am unable to decipher what they are trying to say. This disheartens me because I am missing out on the important information that these young students are trying to express.   I fear that my personal relationships with the students are suffering because of this fact. I could get to know the students better by talking to them and finding out their interests first hand. Instead, I must ask the teacher for a translation if she isn’t busy. This language barrier is a daily occurrence and this is only one example.

In order to break this language barrier I have found several strategies that help. When the students see that I am putting forth effort to get to know their language, they immediately become interested all the more. This usually comes with the children who are in first grade and older. As I teach them new English words, I incorporate their corresponding Dutch vocabulary. If time permits, I will invite them to teach me their Dutch words. The learning becomes reciprocal in that it allows for student growth in addition to my own. Also, the students have to think of other ways of communication if they want to express something. This strengthens their English language skills due to the fact that they know they have to use it to communicate with me. Also, they begin to think “outside the box”. Some students will use hand gestures while others will show me what they are trying to say with an action. 

Through all of this shared learning, I can see something that all teachers should strive to gain in their classrooms. This is motivation. When students are interested and personally related to the instruction, they will WANT to learn. They will have a desire to learn about new and challenging things. As a teacher, I have to be able to scaffold their learning so that they feel free enough to make this leap. Sure, learning new things may be hard but when properly supported it can create a masterpiece. Students will have improved self confidence and be even more likely to take more educational risks.

I am experiencing barriers that I have not had any experience within my home culture. Overcoming these barriers proves to be challenging and somewhat overwhelming at points. However, the reward is worth the risk of always wondering what could have happened if I would have simply stepped out of my comfort zone.  We have to realize that these students will be and are currently a part of our community in which we live.  By modeling ways to overcome these school based barriers, the students are seeing first hand how to deal with some of the obstacles they will face as young adults in the world outside of school.  Every aspect of the classroom can contribute to the well being of the community inside and out.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Sharles' personal blog:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Heritage Day community service awards recognize OU-C students making an impact in their communities

Heritage Day is a homecoming-type event tailored to the Chillicothe Campus.

The third annual community service awards will be presented to students who are making a special impact in their communities when Ohio University-Chillicothe commemorates Heritage Day beginning at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Stevenson Center Learning Commons.

Recipients were nominated by campus members, and final selection was made by a committee comprised of a student, faculty and staff members.

The community service award honorees involve both groups of students and those working individually. Their endeavors are diverse and, collectively, tell the campus’ story of engaging with the region it serves in a compelling manner. These students have displayed a passion for community service and using their time and talents to help others. In many ways, they exemplify the campus’ mission of “paying forward” by helping others while pursuing lives of impact.

Heritage Day is designed to offer a homecoming-style event that is tailored to a regional, commuter campus. It offers an opportunity for former students to visit campus and meet with past classmates and faculty members, as well as for the campus to further engage with the region it serves.

The event is free, and members of the campus and area community are invited to attend. Local musicians Kenny Valentine and Ashley Good will provide entertainment. Refreshments will be served.

In addition to the community service award winners, members of OU-C’s state championship volleyball team will be recognized. The Hilltopper volleyball team recently won the Ohio Regional Campus Conference tournament, defeating Ohio University-Eastern in three straight sets in the title match. Jackie Kellough, a junior from Huntington High School, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Following are the community service award winners:


Tiffany Graves. Graves, an education major, is already making a difference in the lives of youth. She has assisted with the Literacy Alive! event, which is sponsored by the Kappa Delta Pi education honorary. This event is designed to foster a love of books with area children. A lifetime Girl Scout, she was also a speaker at the Lancaster campus’ “Celebrate Women Conference 2015.”

Casey Oates. This summer, Oates sought to provide a positive opportunity to his fellow community members. By partnering with the Pioneer School, a local organization to aid students with developmental disabilities, he was able to organize and execute an athletic camp for children who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to participate in sports.  “I’ve really wanted to do something like this since I was in high school,” Oates said.  “I’m just trying to give kids an opportunity to do something they’re not used to.”  At his football camp, participants were provided helmets and uniforms, led through a series of stretches and warmups, and invited to participate in an array of football drills. 

Shania Logan and Emily Ross. These two students proved the power of creativity and teamwork in creating a project that energized the campus and benefitted the community. Logan and Ross spearheaded a campus Halloween door-decorating contest, in which winners were chosen by the number of canned good placed in collection boxes. The winning department earned a pizza party donated by Cristy’s Pizza. More importantly, the canned goods were then donated to a local food bank. These two enterprising students showed a great deal of initiative and event-planning skills in taking the project from concept to reality. Further, they have humbly worked behind the scenes in an endeavor that sparked increased collaboration on campus and stronger bonds with the community. As they said, a lesson learned from this effort is that everyone can make a difference, and they certainly exemplify that spirit through their actions.

OU-C Women’s Softball Team. Members of the OU-C women’s softball team sponsored a clinic for students of the Pioneer School for individuals with developmental disabilities. The players took time from their busy schedules on a weekend for this event, which captures the spirit of community service. The campus’ athletics program strives to help our student-athletes develop as students and individuals as well as athletes, and this endeavor puts that concept into action. The participating players demonstrated their ability to put others first and to use their talents to assist others who are not as fortunate. Many of the participating players remarked that the clinic broadened their horizons and helped them develop important skills that will serve the student-athletes in their academic and professional careers as well as their lives in making them more aware of others around them and the importance of reaching out to help others.


Human Services Technology (HST) Club. In continuing a local tradition, HST Club members organized the 10th annual Trick or Treat Extravaganza. Through their leadership, more than 50 current and former HST students, as well as students from a range of academic majors and student groups volunteered at an event in the Shoemaker Center. Approximately $2,500 worth of candy was distributed to area youth at the event, with the items donated by OU-C students as the result of fund-raisers as well as area businesses and social service organizations. Thanks to donations at the door, approximately 180 articles of clothing were donated to the First Presbyterian Church Children’s Food Bank, and 1,571 pounds of canned goods were given to the local Good Samaritan Network food bank.

OU-C Nursing Class. Students in the campus’ bachelor’s degree nursing program hosted a breast cancer awareness event outside of the Stevenson Center this fall. The endeavor included student poster presentations, games, food and prizes. The event provided an enjoyable setting with serious purposes, especially in terms of preparing the students for their nursing careers. This event was meant to involve students in a community activity that promotes public awareness and to help get both students and faculty members involved in an active learning activity. This type of experience helps students develop the ‘soft’ skills they need in their profession, such as people skills and the communication skills that allow them to talk with patients and their family members in layman terms; an extension of the learning that goes on in the classroom.

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.

Recent efforts underscore campus outreach efforts

It just figures that recent community service activities by Chillicothe Campus members made an impact on area residents, and the figures are in.

Central Processing Center (CPC) student employees Shania Logan and Emily Ross co-sponsored a campus-wide Halloween door-decorating contest to benefit The Good Samaritan Network, a local food bank. Their efforts resulted in 1,028 items being collected to help area households. The Information Technology Help Desk in Stevenson Center won the competition with 381 items, followed by the CPC, 186 items; and the nursing office, 164 items.

Also, in continuing a local tradition, more than 50 current and former HST students, as well as students from a range of academic majors and student groups volunteered at the recent 10th annual Trick or Treat Extravaganza in the Shoemaker Center. Approximately $2,500 worth of candy was distributed to area youth at the event, with the items donated by OU-C students as the result of fund-raisers as well as area businesses and social service organizations.

Thanks to donations at the door, approximately 180 articles of clothing were donated to the First Presbyterian Church Children’s Food Bank, and 1,571 pounds of canned goods were given to the local Good Samaritan Network food bank.

Further, the third annual silent auction to raise funds for the Ross County Coalition against Domestic Violence again raised more than $1,000 for the effort. All funds support the coalition’s shelter and related program.

Health and Wellness Center offering free month membership during November

The OU-C Health and Wellness Center is offering a promotion to help campus members lose pounds and save money over the holidays. During the month of November, any campus faculty or staff member who joins the center will have a free month’s membership beginning when they sign up.

The health and wellness center, which is located in the Shoemaker Center, offers a convenient way for campus members to get in a well-rounded workout, with facilities and equipment tailored to a range of individuals’ goals and fitness plans. Among offerings are cardio equipment, free weights and a walking track.

Center director Steve Clusman and his staff are available to offer tips and design the right regimen. For more information, contact Clusman at (740) 774-7760 or