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.

Ohio State Mansfield launches campus-community survey

As The Ohio State University at Mansfield and North Central State College begin conversations with the community about creating a campus district, leaders are seeking input about current campus-community relationships through an online survey.

“What we hope to get out of this is an understanding of how community residents and employers are currently looking at the relationship to our campus both in terms of the amount of effort they see us putting into the relationship and the comfort level that people have with us,” Ohio State Mansfield Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi said at a press conference announcing the survey.

“We actually hope to combine those two sets of information in a way that might help us to understand better what our relationship currently looks like and also start some goal setting around the kinds of things that we would like to do in the future in order to increase the community’s perceptions of us as a resource and as a stronger partner.”

Residents and employees of Mansfield, Ontario and Shelby are invited to complete the survey, which can be found at, from May 12-30. Ohio State Mansfield and NC State employees and students will be surveyed in the fall. Staff at the Mansfield, Ontario and Shelby libraries are available to assist those who don’t have internet access.

The Mansfield campus is the best kept secret in Richland County, Gavazzi says.

“I found that to be slightly disturbing and over time, that so many resources that we have to offer here both on the two-year side as well as the four-year side, have largely gone undetected over 50 years of being in Richland County,” he said.

NC State President Dorey Diab added that that in order for the community to prosper, education attainment is key for economic development.

“It’s going to take a community to turn this community around and Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College are very willing to take the leadership to make that happen,” Diab said. “But the leadership cannot make it happen on its own. It takes the whole team working together to do so and we look forward to working with the community to achieve that goal.”

Capital Campaign exceeds $3 million

Group study rooms at the Bromfield Library and Information Commons will be named for donors.

Group study rooms at the Bromfield Library and Information Commons will be named for donors.

Ohio State Mansfield will celebrate reaching it’s $3 million capital campaign goal and dedicate the new Bromfield Library and Information Commons at a public reception the evening of Thursday, April 10. Support from hundreds of campus and community members, including capstone gifts from Next Generation Films and the John & Pearl Conard Foundation, will provide new and expanded student scholarships and internship opportunities, as well as key improvements to campus facilities.

The Bromfield Library and Information Commons, the campaign’s main strategic priority, nears completion of the $3 million renovation into a vibrant high-tech learning environment. The crowning jewel of the space is the Learning Collaborative Classroom, funded through a $300,000 grant by the Richland County Foundation. This innovative space, shared by Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College as well as available for business and community programs, will leverage advanced technologies to support collaborative learning.

Other vital study rooms and instructional areas have also been created through gifts from Mechanics Bank, Richland Bank, CenturyLink, FirstEnergy, and Shelby Foundation. With a $500,000 gift from the Conard Foundation, the building will be renamed Conard Hall at the April 10 ceremony.

The Gorman family helped establish a new Business Internship Program endowment with their generous leadership gift. More than 75 students from Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College have benefited from internships this academic year with 40 local businesses, getting paid while gaining hands-on experience in engineering, business and other trades. An internship meet and greet in December attracted more than 200 students and potential employers, evidence of the great need within the community.

More than $600,000 has been pledged for scholarships in the But for Ohio State Mansfield campaign, including generous support by Vic Smith of Galion to create the new NCSC Buckeye Scholarship. The new Tyger Scholarship will help local students start college, and the new Board Leadership Scholarship will help them complete their four-year degree on the Mansfield campus. With an expanded Engineering program, the new Jack Hire Scholarship will also help the campus recruit and support new students in this exciting growth area.

“This goal could not have been met but for the dedication of our campaign volunteers who spent countless hours meeting with prospective donors, explaining our vision for our students,” Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi said. “Our students will reap the benefits of their hard work for years to come.”

There will be many people to thank. Former Director of University Relations Rodger Smith laid the groundwork for the campaign through his decades of service before he retired in 2012. Campaign co-chairs Pam Siegenthaler and John Riedl, along with honorary chairman James C. Gorman, provided essential leadership throughout the campaign in partnership with Ohio State Mansfield Board members. NCSC Chief Public Affairs Officer Betty Preston, on loan for the campaign, was instrumental in securing the Hire Family Foundation grant; English Professor Susan Delagrange led support efforts for Bromfield renovations. Community volunteers also played key roles by raising tremendous awareness and funds for the campaign. They include Mary Bolin, Dave Carto, Don De Censo, Evelyn Freeman, Scott King, Jay Miller, John Mount, Brad Preston, Lydia Reid, John S. Roby, Doc Stumbo, Karin Turowski, Dick Walters, and Sheila York.

Mansfield campus ideal place for environmental studies

Deer often graze in grasslands at the edge of the forest at Ohio State Mansfield. Ohio State Extension is conducting a study on deer pressure at the campus.

Deer often graze in grasslands at the edge of the forest at Ohio State Mansfield. Ohio State Extension is conducting a study on deer pressure at the campus.

If you drive through the SR 39 environmental entrance to The Ohio State University at Mansfield at the right time of day, you can see a small herd of deer grazing near the tree lines. Just how many deer roam the campus’s 640 acres and the impact on the surrounding woodlands is the goal of a study by Ohio State Extension Wildlife Program specialist Marne Titchenell. She and several volunteers erected fencing on a tenth of an acre behind Kee Hall to monitor the abundance of the deer and the pressure they place on vegetation. The deer exclosure allows an area of woodlands to grow naturally, while the area outside the fencing provides data about how much the deer are eating.

“It will probably take a season or two before we see a difference, but we put it in an area easily accessible for students and where we know deer are browsing so we should get some good data,” Titchenell said.

It’s one of several woodlands-based research projects Ohio State Mansfield and Extension would like to conduct on the land, akin to Stone Laboratory projects on open waterways conducted on Lake Erie. Mansfield campus is a unique combination of terrestrial, wetlands and aquatic areas, and one of the largest contiguous parcels left in the state. The forest also is the ideal location to offer an environmental studies program.

“We are eager to create an Environmental Studies program that takes advantage of our natural resources,” Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi said. “In our next several rounds of hires, we will be looking for faculty who can lend expertise to that area of study.”

Kathy Smith, Extension program director – Forestry, worked with a capstone class of 35 environmental studies students last May to collect woodlands data. Another class will continue the study this May, with a goal to create a forest management plan.

Mansfield campus administrators hope the community will come to enjoy the increasing numbers of classes offered by the Woodlands Stewards program. This year’s classes… include a day-long Tree School designed to teach woodland owners and others how to plant and maintain trees. Extension, in conjunction with the Ohio Forestry Association, will offer two chainsaw safety classes in June. And Ohio State photography instructor Jim Doty, Jr. will lead a hands-on session on Capturing Nature’s Wonders, combining classroom and living laboratory experiences.

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.

Engaging elders, fathers part of creating youth success

Renee Thompson, Ohio State Mansfield Family Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, explains the Fatherhood Initiative to a group of community leaders.

Renee Thompson, Ohio State Mansfield Family Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, explains the Fatherhood Initiative to a group of community leaders.

“What would happen if a university, a school district, and a community worked together to promote healthy youth development?” The question was posed two years ago as Renee Thompson became Family Engagement and Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.

Out of that question came a series of community conversations dubbed “Beginning Anew.” Since then, Thompson has been instrumental in creating outreach programs and community collaborations centered on that theme, ensuring college-readiness for youth and creating greater ties between the university and the community.

Engaging Elders: Connecting Children, Campus and Community, to be hosted May 21 at the Mansfield campus, is a collaborative effort by the university, Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc., the North End Community Improvement Collaborative Inc., and Richland County Children’s Services. Recognizing that grandparents sometimes assume child-rearing responsibilities, the day includes discussions centered on that theme, along with a luncheon to honor elders.

Realizing that it takes a family to ready a student for college, Thompson brought the Fatherhood Initiative to Richland County. Funded through the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties, the initiative will help fathers strengthen their parenting capabilities by providing them with the tools and strategies to become committed fathers for their children.

Thompson maintains offices at Mansfield High School and the campus to provide a link between the university, students and parents, ensuring students are college-ready through the Algebra Project and other tutoring opportunities. A family resource room has been established at the high school to provide an informal place for parents to gather and talk. A summer camp for high school students transitioning to college also is in the planning stages.

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.”

Community newsletter – From the Dean

There’s no more exciting time than now to be a part of The Ohio State University at Mansfield! We are creating eminence in our teaching, research, and service activities while solidifying our relationships with local government officials and business leaders to create bridges between campus and community.

We are making significant inroads in building our Engineering program offerings at Ohio State Mansfield, a critical need identified by our business community partners. I’m pleased to announce a $75,000 gift from the Hire Family Foundation to establish the Jack Hire Engineering Scholarship endowment. This scholarship will further our goal of supporting our engineering students on the Mansfield campus.

As well, Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College recently were awarded a national technical assistance grant from the Ohio Board of Regents and Complete College America to help bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. We are exploring the development of a collaborative associate’s to bachelor’s degree program in Engineering with this grant support.

While exposure to academic content inside the classroom is important, our students also are now being strongly encouraged to gain paid, hands-on, real-world experience through our new Business & Industry Internship Program. Nearly 150 students met with more than 50 businesses at an Internship “Meet and Greet” event this past December to learn more about this internship initiative. This semester, we have identified more than 30 local businesses that have or are actively looking for interns. In collaboration with NC State, Mansfield Campus students are now gaining valuable work experience, networking in their chosen field, and establishing roots in our communities like never before.

Students learn the value of service

Ohio State Mansfield Education students Mellissa Johnson, left, and Paige Poffenbaugh show some of the debris that students at Eastern Elementary School in Lexington found in a Clearfork tributary. The duo created the service learning project for the students.

Ohio State Mansfield Education students Mellissa Johnson, left, and Paige Poffenbaugh show some of the debris that students at Eastern Elementary School in Lexington found in a Clearfork tributary. The duo created the service learning project for the students.

By including service learning in his curriculum, an Ohio State Mansfield professor has created some unique local opportunities for his students.

Christian Winterbottom, assistant professor of Education (Teaching and Learning), received a grant from the Ohio State Service Learning Initiative last year to restructure a class in early childhood pedagogy to collaborate with local agencies. The idea was to teach Education students to incorporate service learning components into their curriculum. Students collaborated with the Richland County Development Group and United Way to identify potential community partners.

Ohio State Mansfield students paired up and completed several projects at area schools, including coordinating a clean-up day of a river near Lexington’s Eastern Elementary School.

“They were designing a science-themed module collecting fish and wildlife in the river, when they realized it was full of tires and cans and bottles,” Winterbottom said. “They pulled a lot of trash out of the river. It was a huge success.”

Some students partnered with the United Way Big Red Bookshelf project. In conducting research for the project, they found that some children in Richland County didn’t have access to books. They put bins around the Mansfield campus and in the community to collect books. They constructed a red bookshelf to give to United Way to house the books.

“They received so many books, just thousands of books,” Winterbottom said.

Another group partnered with Shelby Mayor Marilyn John on a similar project and donated the books to elementary schools.

At Madison, one group focused on collecting canned food to be distributed for Thanksgiving.

“A lot of children in that area are underprivileged, so it was interesting to see them give back something to other children who are also in a similar position,” Winterbottom said.

Another group at Lexington wrote letters to troops in Afghanistan.

“It is hard to get middle school students to write, in general, but when it’s something that’s really important to them, they write pages and pages,” he said. “And they write about things that are personal to them that you wouldn’t normally get to see.”

Winterbottom will teach a pure service learning class this fall, open to all students, where students learn to plan and implement a service learning project themselves.

“I’m really looking forward to starting that on this campus,” he said.