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Student Success

The Art of Play

Senior Emily Kennedy brightens up the ONU Child Development Center with a new mural.

For young children in school, recess is the time to take a break from the rigors of learning and just have fun with friends. But does that mean that there is no place for learning on the playground? The Ohio Northern University Child Development Center certainly doesn’t think so, and more to the point, they actually commissioned a mural for their playground to reinforce educational concepts to children while they play.

An artist-signed masterpiece.

“We believe that a child’s environment can also act as a teacher,” says June Zimmerman, director of the Child Development Center. “The mural is an interactive tool that we can use when we play games outside that address math, science, literacy and social studies objectives at the preschool level.”

The idea for a mural came from a desire to improve the center both aesthetically and functionally. Zimmerman wanted to “spruce up” the CDC and raise the profile of the facility in the community, and Dr. Sandy Calvert, director of ONU’s Center of Teacher Education, was looking for on-campus opportunities to engage education majors with high-impact, experiential learning.

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Teacher education students have many opportunities to attend and present with ONU faculty at state and national conferences. Below are some examples of student presentations from recent conferences.


Center for Teacher Education Students Co-Present with Professor at State Conference

Pictured (left to right) with Dr. Diana Garlough are teacher candidates junior Emily Jones (early childhood education, intervention specialist), senior Kayla Rife (early childhood education), and senior Ashley Clapp (middle childhood education) who co-presented at The Ohio Confederation of Teacher Education Organizations in October of 2012 in Dublin, Ohio. The presentation, “Silent Partners in Teacher Education Programs: Teacher Candidates,” allowed the group to speak about the heart of Ohio Northern’s education program, field experience. The presenters provided an overview of the research in school-university partnerships and field experiences, and provided a venue for teacher candidates to share their experiences.

Garlough’s conception of the presentation stemmed from her high regard for the teacher candidates and their ability to articulate the value of field experience. During the presentation, teacher candidates discussed applying theory to practice, creating meaningful teacher-student relationships, and learning how practitioners reflect and plan as well as seeing exemplary teachers in action. ONU’s Teacher candidates invest over 200 hours of field experiences working mostly in schools with students prior to their student teaching. Teacher candidates obviously have a lot to say about their experiences, what works well and what needs to be improved.

The presentation was well attended by teacher education faculty members from across Ohio from large and small public and private universities. Garlough was pleased with the professional demeanor the teacher candidates displayed, their ability to showcase their understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of field experience, and to handle questions from the other faculty members.