Students gain experience at professor’s alma mater

Nella Blackford, an Early Childhood Education major, gets field experience in a second grade classroom in Galion.

Nella Blackford, an Early Childhood Education major, gets field experience in a second grade classroom in Galion.

Early Childhood Education students from The Ohio State University at Mansfield finished a field experience opportunity in December at the Galion Primary School.

Twelve seniors spent the fall semester working with second grade teachers, gaining valuable field experience to help prepare them for student teaching.

Ohio State students were also placed at the Primary and Middle Schools last school year. The students had such a positive experience in the Galion schools that Ohio State Mansfield Field Placement Coordinator Regina Sackman, a Galion alumna, knew she wanted to place as many students as possible in Galion.

“Being a Galion graduate, naturally I wanted my students to experience and be a part of the quality education that Galion provides,” Sackman said.

While in the field, the university students worked with classroom teachers to meet the needs of students, often working with individuals and small groups to reinforce learning. The student teachers were responsible for individual lessons, as well as peer teaching and assisting the classroom teachers. Galion second grade teachers volunteered to be mentors and to share their experiences.

Heather Snow, a Clear Fork graduate, and Nella Blackford, a Mansfield St. Peter’s graduate, both taught Science and Social Studies lessons in Cindy Conner’s second grade class.

“All the students in class were nice, worked very hard and were really patient,” Snow said.

Field experiences provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to implement teaching strategies and theories that they learn about in their college course work. Working with students enables them to develop an understanding of how students learn and how to address each student’s specific learning needs.

“The atmosphere in the primary school was a breath of fresh air because the entire staff was very welcoming,” Blackford said. “Cindy gave us the opportunity to be involved in every aspect of the students’ educational experience including parent teacher conferences. It was a great experience as a student aspiring to be a teacher.”

Mansfield alumnus provides valuable insight for study

Paul Privara

Paul Privara

Project managers at Fisher Professional Services didn’t know when they accepted a project with Richland Community Development Group that they would find local talent within their own group.

Paul Privara, an MBA student at the Fisher College of Business, is a 2011 business graduate at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. He has been with Walgreens for 15 years and operates the store on Park Avenue West. His knowledge of Richland County proved invaluable to the team as they created a Strategic Activities Development and Implementation Plan.

“It helps on a functional level to have someone who understands the actual culture of the community, the man-on-the-ground perspective we just weren’t going to find by doing research,” said Kurtis Roush, director, Office of Global Business at the Fisher College of Business.

The RCDG project was the third phase of an economic development project in which Ohio State has been involved. Ohio State Mansfield Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi brought in colleague Roush to provide real-life experience for Ohio State students, while meeting a community need for strategic economic planning.

The first two phases were completed last spring by students from the City and Regional Planning program in the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture.

Phase three took the vision and segmented it into an implementable plan.

“This is basically a skill that MBA students are going to be given regularly in their corporate careers,” Roush said. “It was a great opportunity for students to practice their skills, but it was also to benefit the greater good as well.”

Bridget T. McDaniel, Executive Director of RCDG, was appreciative of the input from the students.

“It is always good to get fresh eyes on the community,” she said. “Both reports provided insight into problems and especially into possibilities.”

Privara’s role in the project included identifying key groups that could provide input on the project and interviewing community leaders about topics ranging from wayfinding and parking redesign in downtown Mansfield to attracting young professionals to the workforce through education and quality of life.

“I actually do believe in that motto ‘pay it forward,’” Privara said. “People have been really nice to me in Richland County. I’ve been able to open a business and go to school. It was my chance to give back to a community that is really in need of help at this time.”

Next steps include implementation of the plan by RCDG. The Long Range Planning Sector, who has spearheaded this effort, will be taking the information and creating actionable items for implementation.

“RCDG is dedicated to making change and these documents will provide us with a platform upon which to build. That is our commitment to the county, ” McDaniel said.

Renovated BLIC brimming with learning and technology

DSC_5089eOhio State Mansfield student Mark Matthews plugged in his USB drive to the instructor’s console and his group launched into a presentation for the Professional Writing class. Two 80-inch and two 60-inch flat screen monitors, as well as two projectors beamed onto motorized, semi-transparent screens at the back of the room, offered a 360 degree view of their presentation.

“The room is perfect for learning because no matter where you sit, you can see and hear the instructor and see the material on the screen without having to move around,” said Diane Hixson, a student in the class.

The class is just one of many using learning-centered technology in the Richland County Foundation Learning Collaborative classroom located in the Bromfield Library and Information Commons.

“This classroom shines through its extreme flexibility and access to a wide variety of technologies,” said David Au, instructional technology coordinator. “The way that the classes are taught can be approached with methods that foster collaboration and participation by students.”

As a resuslt of a recent $3 million dollar renovation, the BLIC is now a place not only for research, but a space to hang out with friends, attend class, or conduct a study session in one of six touch-screen equipped study rooms that can be booked in two-hour blocks.

Faculty also are able to use a high-tech Richland Bank Faculty Media Center in the BLIC that allows them to record lectures and video for online courses and to supplement classwork. The studio includes a soundproof video and audio recording space with a green screen and professional lighting.

“The center also will be a primary location for workshops given to faculty and staff,” Au said. “These workshops will cover a variety of creative applications, university systems and techniques for course development.”

Professors make teaching math fun

Stephanie Tilley, an Early Childhood Education major at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, helps a student with telling time at a summer Math Camp.

Stephanie Tilley, an Early Childhood Education major at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, helps a student with telling time at a summer Math Camp.

Students busily measured Ladybug’s progress on giant sheets of paper as an elementary school teacher delivered the pre-planned lesson. Observers circled the room, making notes as the lesson progressed.

The class was part of a well-orchestrated combination of teacher professional development and math camp conducted at Springmill Learning Center by The Ohio State University at Mansfield in July. The professional development class was made possible through a $203,000 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents.

Twenty-two elementary and middle school teachers from the Mansfield City School District prepared and delivered lessons during the math camp. At the same time, camp teachers from several local school districts taught 170 children in the week-long camp, with relief from Ohio State Mansfield Education students.

A similar camp was conducted with 60 children and 10 teachers at the Lucas School District in August.

“There’s a lot of things happening at the same time,” said Terri Bucci, associate professor of Education and one of the coordinators of the grant. “It’s really exciting to see the results because all those groups of teachers and students are learning as well, not just the kids who are in the camp.”

The grant includes a year’s worth of professional development with course credit through Ohio State. Elementary teachers attended a week of intensive coursework and designed lesson plans adapted from the Algebra Project’s 5-step curricular process, which evolved from Professor Lee McEwan’s successful Algebra Project high school program. Teachers then used the plan to teach during the camp, with other teachers silently observing. After the class, teachers discussed the interaction and offered feedback.

“We wanted to demonstrate that the math camp process works with different kinds of districts,” Bucci said. “Mansfield and Lucas are very dissimilar – one is large and urban, one is very small, very rural. We wanted to show that this process would work in any kind of demographic.”

Kelly Scott, an Ohio State Mansfield Middle School Education student and Mansfield graduate, helped develop games for the camp.

“Growing up, I never really liked math,” she said. “I feel like if we get the kids involved and excited while they are younger, they will want to do math later on when they get to the harder stuff like calculus and algebra.”

Math Literacy Initiative

Ohio State Mansfield and the Mansfield City Schools Board of Education have approved a plan to house a Math Literacy Initiative at the Springmill Learning Center.

The center was on the closure list last spring when a plan was conceived to host professional development opportunities for elementary and middle school teachers in the facility.

Ohio State Mansfield Professors Lee McEwan and Terri Bucci, in their fourth year of teaching professional development for the Mansfield school district, will serve as co-directors.

Students from Ohio State Mansfield’s Middle Childhood Education program also are expected to receive field experience at the center.

Student experiences part of learning

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil  sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

Professor Ozeas Costa helps research student Stephanie Brokaw collect a soil
sample from a vernal pool on the Mansfield campus.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield believes that student experiences outside the classroom are just as important as the learning that goes on within. From research to internships, arts to athletics, and from studying abroad to leadership opportunities in campus clubs, students can choose the experiences that will provide personal development and prepare them for careers.

“Getting involved in activities outside the classroom gives them a sense of community and place,” says Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer. “They begin to realize college is a good fit for them. It’s where they belong.”

Stephanie Brokaw, a sophomore at Ohio State Mansfield, was selected for an Undergraduate Education Summer Research Fellowship. With mentoring from Earth Sciences Professor Ozeas Costa, the Pharmaceutical Sciences major is analyzing the wetlands and vernal pools on campus to identify the organic matter and carbonate content.

“It’s nice that we have a campus that already has wetlands and a professor who wanted to do the research,” Brokaw said. “The experience of gathering information, seeing what other researchers are doing and learning to use the computer programs that are involved for research and data collection has been invaluable.”

Two other current students will use their leadership skills to form a women’s support group on campus this fall, inspired by several speakers from a recent conference.

Senior Tiffany Tilley and sophomore Maris Bucci attended the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland in June. It was the first time students from the Mansfield campus participated in the conference, according to Donna Hight, Chief Student Life and Retention Officer.

“The women there were phenomenal. They were so high-spirited, outspoken strong women,” Bucci said. “It was awesome being a part of that and sharing it with other people who had similar interests as me.” Bucci is a self-described “involvement activist.” She is a Buckeye Ambassador, Campus Activity Board secretary, member of the Mansfield Mavericks volleyball team, president of Student Government, Camp Hetuck facilitator and is working at Buckeye Village as a leasing consultant.

Tilley is also training to be a Junior Admissions Counselor in the fall. She has been part of the Haiti Empowerment Project study-abroad for two years and was a Buckeye Ambassador.

Ohio State Mansfield connects students with paid internships in surrounding communities, too. Jessica Luna, an Accounting major, is a Human Resources Intern at OhioHealth MedCentral this summer. She provides a variety of duties for the director and vice president as well as participating in project development related to MedCentral’s integration with OhioHealth.

“I think it’s unique that our students have the opportunity to intern locally with a Fortune 100 company like OhioHealth MedCentral (ranked in the top 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune),” said Tracy Bond, Internship Program coordinator.

“Jessica’s internship is a road she’s taken to test the waters in key areas of her interests in the business field that may lead her to pursue specific paths in her academics and career.  The company culture and experiences she is having are invaluable and may open up doors for her in the future.”

Learning to span the ages

Whether you are 18 or 80, The Ohio State University at Mansfield offers higher-education options to suit your interests. Students can take a course or two, or obtain an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree right on campus.

Ohio State Mansfield serves as the gateway to Ohio State for most students who attend the campus. After completing 30 credit hours, which can usually be accomplished in a year, students can seamlessly transition to the Columbus campus to earn one of more than 170 undergraduate degrees.

Students may also stay at Ohio State Mansfield and complete one of nine bachelor’s degrees offered on-campus, including Business Administration, Criminology, Early Childhood Education, English, History, Middle Childhood Education, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology.

New this year is a writing concentration in addition to the literature concentration for English majors. The new writing concentration focuses on nonfiction writing, the art of persuasion (rhetorical theory), and literacy.

“Basically, it’s our version of the Communications major,” said Norman Jones, English program coordinator. “But in the broadest terms, it’s about making written communications but also digital and online multimedia communications.”

The Associate of Arts degree is an option for those who want to earn a diploma to mark two years, or 60 credits, of successful college coursework. The AA degree can be a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree, or can be a stand-alone degree. Evening and online classes are available for those who cannot attend during the day. Credits also apply to an Ohio State bachelor’s degree.

Ohio State Mansfield also offers a Master of Arts in Early and Middle Childhood education and a Master of Social Work.

Mary Jo Hawk, program coordinator for Social Work, sees some returning students as more agencies require a master’s degree to meet federal and state guidelines. Others who want to help people, especially children, are switching careers. And recently graduated students are continuing their education to further their employment opportunities in a fast-growing profession.

“They all see it as a positive career move to a profession with a high employment rate,” she said.

Ohio residents 60 or older can take undergraduate and graduate classes at The Ohio State University at Mansfield tuition-free on a space available basis. No credit is given and the courses can’t be applied toward a degree, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to take that history or business class you always wanted to take.

Program 60 students attend the same classes with enrolled students taught by world-class faculty. It provides an excellent opportunity to remain engaged in intellectual activity with people of all ages. Program 60 students add valuable life experiences to classroom discussions.

English writing concentration

A new writing concentration has been added as an option to the English bachelor’s degree. The concentration focuses on written communication as well as digital and web multimedia communication.

“There are a lot of students who want to focus on writing and be better communicators but who might not love analyzing literature,” said Norman Jones, English program coordinator. “This is a way for them to really be able to focus on a broader kind of writing, especially on non-fiction writing.”

The program will take advantage of state-of-the-art technology in the Learning Collaborative Classroom at the Bromfield Library and Information Commons. Susan Delagrange, one of the professors who will teach the writing concentration, has won numerous national awards for composition in digital media.

“We emphasize the real-world implications,” Delagrange said. “Writing occurs in all professions. People feel that it is a very practical aspect of English studies.”

May study abroad offers unique opportunities


Students from Steven Joyce’s study abroad class last May gather for lunch in Corfu, Greece.

Students from Steven Joyce’s study abroad class last May gather for lunch in Corfu, Greece.

This month, two Ohio State Mansfield professors are leading Ohio State students on study abroad trips to broaden their college experience.

Steven Joyce, associate professor of German, is leading a month-long trip to Corfu, Greece, while Ozeas Costa, associate professor of Earth Sciences, is spending nine days in Costa Rica with 38 students from Ohio State and community colleges in Georgia and Arizona.

It’s Joyce’s second May semester study abroad. Twenty students, including two from Mansfield, will earn credit for Introduction to Western Tradition & Contemporary European Issues during classes taught by professors at Ionian University in Corfu who specialize in topics ranging from ancient to modern age Greece.

Group excursions to locations such as the site of the ancient oracle at Dodona and the Byzantine museum in Corfu will allow students to see and experience firsthand what they have learned in the classroom.

“It’s an unfolding set of stories,” Joyce said. “It’s absolutely great. Everything they are learning in the classroom is right there.”

May semester was created last year as the university transitioned from quarters to semesters. Up to three credits of May semester courses are offered free of tuition, although there is a cost for study abroad travel, lodging, meals and other expenses. The four-week courses allow students to get an extra class in before they head off for summer jobs or other endeavors.

“We wanted this class to be a regional campus initiative,” Joyce said. “Regional students don’t want to be gone for a long time, so we thought if we could offer a class they can finish in four weeks, they would be interested.”

The Costa Rica program, Environment and Culture in Costa Rica, includes lectures at Ohio State the first and fourth weeks of the semester, as well as nine days of travel through the country of Costa Rica, visiting coffee plantations, national parks, cloud forests, a nature preserve accessed by boat, and wetlands. In each location, participating students from various programs, including zoology, environmental and natural resources, journalism, environmental health and strategic communications, will interview local managers, ecotourism operators and scientists about sustainability.

“This trip will allow students to challenge the idea that conservation and economic development cannot work together,” Costa said. “Those two things don’t need to be antagonists. And Costa Rica is an example of that.”

Every other day, students will have time to reflect on those experiences and how it ties into their own academic plans and perspectives for the future. They will also have the chance to write about their experiences from the perspective of their major.

Of concern to both professors was promoting the trips university-wide while working from a regional campus. But social media and word-of-mouth from students, as well as the excellent reputation of the professors, sold the classes. Costa’s students have either taken a class with him, or are friends with one of his students. Students from last year’s trip to Greece posted photos on Facebook of their experiences. This year 50 students applied for the Greece trip, but there were only 20 slots.

“It was really tough to tell 30 they couldn’t go,” Joyce said. “They all meet the requirements academically for study abroad.”

For many students, it’s the first time they have left Ohio. Instructors, as well as the Office of International Affairs in Columbus, work with the students to prepare them culturally.

“Corfu is Orthodox Christian,” Joyce said. “We teach them that there is a certain way to dress and act. We talk about the perceptions Greeks have about Americans, especially women, and generally about college students. We remind them that they represent The Ohio State University and the United States when they are visiting the country.”

From the Dean

You should be aware that Ohio State Mansfield has an exceptional faculty, with nearly all having the terminal degree in their field. They also are recognized frequently for their commitment to research and service responsibilities, both in the community and abroad.

Steven Joyce, associate professor of German, is one of 10 university-wide faculty members to be awarded the 2014 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Joyce developed a study abroad program in Corfu, Greece, Mansfield’s first study abroad with a humanities emphasis. Joyce joins Joseph R. Holomuzki (2011), John Thrasher (1999), Deborah Bainer (1996), Thomas Foster (1993), James McCleod (1991), Janet Torino (1990) and Ted Dahlstrand (1983) as past recipients of this prestigious award from the Mansfield campus.

Sergei Chmutov, professor of Mathematics, received the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Faculty Service Award for his work with Math Honors students in his summer program in Columbus entitled “Knots and Graphs.” Those students have given talks at prestigious undergraduate conferences, received Goldwater Awards and published their work in research journals.

Lee McEwan, Mathematics professor, and Terri Bucci and Michael Mikusa, Mathematics Education professors received a $203,789 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents to provide an Algebra Project-based professional development program for kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in the Mansfield City and Lucas Local School Districts.

Rachel Bowen, assistant professor, Political Science, was recently notified that she has been nominated for a Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Students participating in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum nominated Bowen for the award. She will find out later this month at the forum if she is an award winner.

These awards across disciplines demonstrate the commitment our faculty has to their scholarship and to our students and community. Congratulations!

Stephen M. Gavazzi, Ph.D.

Four chosen for prestigious Denman Forum

Tanesha Gardner-cropped

Tanesha Gardner

Senior, History
Mentors: Dr. Mollie Cavender and Dr. Heather Tanner

Ruffs, Slashes, & Farthingales: Fashion at the Court of Elizabeth l
My project is on Elizabethan Court Fashion. I look at how the fashion of the nobility changes when Queen Elizabeth I takes the throne.

Research is an integral part of being a History major and eventually a working Historian. Being able to do a large scale research project was a great opportunity to put my skills to the test.

I have loved every second I’ve been at Ohio State Mansfield! The small campus life lends itself to creating lasting relationships with peers and professors.

Leah Schwechheimer-cropped

Leah Schwechheimer

Junior, Biology
Mentors: Dr. Carol Landry

White Mangrove Pollination

The study is an investigation of reproductive barriers between two closely related, co-flowering Croton species on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas.

This project has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about scientific investigation and the process of experimentation, as well as get some experience doing field work.

I believe that study-abroad programs are extremely important for students to discover new places, people, and cultures, as well as learning about the projects they are studying.

Collin Sipe

Collin Sipe

Senior, History
Mentors: Dr. Mollie Cavender and Dr. Heather Tanner

Death, Silk, And Spices: The Issue of Gentleman Merchants and the Policies of the English East India Company

My experiences in research have increased my confidence in my work and academic studies, as well as provided me with networking with both fellow students and established academic scholars.

Ohio State Mansfield’s most important attribute has been it’s amazing professors, who allow  students to explore their interests while providing support and encouragement that inspire them to reach new levels of academic success and personal growth.

Sam Ulrich-cropped

Samantha Ulrich

Junior, Public Affairs
Mentor: Dr. Rachel Bowen

The Arab Spring: A Clash with Principle or another Unexpected Wave of Democratization?

My project seeks to discredit a school of thought in political science which states that Catholic, Buddhist, or Islamic nations cannot neither create nor maintain a democratic government.

I have gained so much from this experience – research skills, confidence in my own capabilities, and a mentor.

This has been an amazing opportunity for me not only because of Dr. Bowen’s research knowledge, but for her ability to mentor me as a law school hopeful.

Professors receive grant to provide math professional development to local school districts


Teachers from the Mansfield City School District interact with math camp elementary students at last summer’s professional development training. Teachers learned to integrate Algebra Project-based curriculum into their lesson plans.

Three professors from The Ohio State University at Mansfield will be teaching math to elementary teachers this summer through a $203,789 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents. The grant will provide an Algebra Project-based professional development program for kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in the Mansfield City and Lucas Local School Districts.

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program is funded under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The purpose of the program is to increase the academic achievement of all students by helping schools and school districts improve teacher, instructional paraprofessional and principal quality.

The funding comes at an opportune time for the Mansfield schools, who just declared a fiscal emergency.

“We’ve been doing professional development but on a shoestring budget,” said Betsy Alexander, executive director of state and federal programs for the school district. “This program will help us accomplish our main goal, which is to improve the academic achievement of our students.”

“CAMP: Collaborative Applications of Mathematics Pedagogy” is the collective effort of Lee McEwan, Mathematics professor, and Terri Bucci and Michael Mikusa, Mathematics Education professors.

“Most students think algebra is incredibly hard and utterly useless,” McEwan said. “We are working with elementary teachers to dispel that myth at an early age.”

In a recent report from the Ohio Board of Regents, 50 percent of Lucas Local School District graduates entering college and 48 percent of Mansfield City graduates required remedial math classes before they could begin college math courses.

The highly successful national Algebra Project, which McEwan has led locally for more than five years, works with high school students in the bottom quartile of their class, providing double the number of math classes throughout their four years of high school, with the goal to make them college-ready in math. McEwan’s first cohort is now entering college.

The recent extension integrates Algebra Project methods and philosophy into kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum. Bucci and McEwan expanded the high school work by providing professional development, lesson study, and working with Mansfield Mathematics Teacher Leaders in grades K-8. The MTL’s worked with Bucci last summer on a pilot of the camp and lesson study program. That work led to the successful grant for a continued and expanded version of the work.

This is the second year the summer math camp has been offered. The program has expanded to include a year’s worth of professional development with course credit through Ohio State.

Elementary teachers will attend one week of intensive coursework, followed by one week of summer lesson study connected to a math camp for district students. Teachers design lesson plans based on Algebra Project curriculum, then use the plan to teach during a summer camp, with other teachers silently observing. After the class, teachers discuss the interaction and offer feedback.

“The focus is to provide teachers with an opportunity to see the practices learned through their course in action with children,” Bucci said.

The professors will provide monthly follow-up professional development at the schools, culminating in a conference to showcase teacher growth and student work, with the goal to create inter-district professional learning communities.

“The camp was very successful last year,” Alexander said. “Our teachers who went through it really got to analyze a math lesson in its entirety and with that, they gained confidence. So to continue it with the money that Ohio State Mansfield has been able to retrieve through this Board of Regents funding is just phenomenal.”

Bucci is eager to work with Lucas schools this year. “There were 12 math teachers interested in the program in the preview session from such a small district. That just floored me,” Bucci said.

The key to preparing students for college, the professors say, starts with enabling teachers to create programs “where students can be mathematicians rather than receptacles of mathematics.” Local school districts make a huge investment in terms of time and training in Algebra Program teachers, McEwan said.

“It will take a generation of teachers to make this work,” McEwan said. “But the most phobic teachers are now the most passionate.”