Ohio University

Patton College unveils 'OHIO Teach Cleveland,' providing urban teaching experiences for seniors

Published: February 5, 2020 Author: Tony Meale

During the 2019-20 academic year, four Patton College of Education seniors will complete their professional internships in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) as part of the OHIO Teach Cleveland program. This new program gives Patton College students an opportunity to gain teaching experience in additional urban settings.

“Our CMSD partners value the quality of teacher preparation within The Patton College and are interested in providing urban education experiences for future teachers,” said Marcy Keifer Kennedy, director of the Ohio University Center for Clinical Practice in Education. “The Patton College values the mission and goals of CMSD and sees great potential for Patton College students to possibly move from successful internships into potential CMSD teaching positions.”

The Patton College developed the program with CMSD employees and Ohio University alumnae Laura Mulvaney and Dr. Megan Traum, who received bachelor’s degrees in education in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Mulvaney serves as CMSD executive director of staffing, while Traum serves as university clinical educator to the OHIO Teach Cleveland interns.

“We know that this will be a great partnership for OHIO and CMSD,” said Mulvaney. “We know that Ohio University attracts top-tier students, and we want to encourage those pursuing a career in education to consider taking their talents to an urban district. CMSD can offer Ohio University students an opportunity to work in an urban environment and experience the opportunities and challenges of working with our students.”

Student Ambassadors - group shot
Dean Renee A. Middleton and other Patton College colleagues met with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

This all started when Mulvaney phoned Patton College Dean Renée A. Middleton in November 2018 to discuss a potential partnership between the College and CMSD. They, along with Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Academic Advising Maureen Coon and Teacher Education Department Chair Dr. Frans Doppen, helped get the program off the ground.

“This type of partnership aligns with OHIO President M. Duane Nellis’ Strategic Initiatives to deliver career-ready leadership skills and to collaborate with community partners to help with challenges they may be facing,” said Middleton. OHIO Teach Cleveland will have direct and indirect benefits for all involved. Our students have new environments in which to learn, and the CMSD will have a hand in developing the very students they may hire upon their graduation. I very much appreciate everyone who has helped make OHIO Teach Cleveland happen.”

In addition to Middleton, Coon, Doppen, and Keifer Kennedy, members of the OHIO Teach Cleveland team include: Dr. Dianne Gut, professor and assistant department chair, Teacher Education; Kathleen Haskell, coordinator of professional internships in teaching; Dr. Lisa Harrison, associate professor, Teacher Education; Dr. Theda Gibbs-Grey, assistant professor, Teacher Education; Chip Rice, research grants development coordinator; and Dawn Mooney, administrative specialist, OHIO Center for Clinical Practice in Education.

“We are excited to learn more about how we can best prepare our teacher candidates to successfully work across all urban, rural, and suburban settings,” said Keifer Kennedy. “This collaborative partnership will provide opportunities for research and scholarship aimed at the improvement of educator preparation across all contexts. We are also hopeful that the pilot will expand next year, and we will see an increase in the number of OHIO Bobcat teachers being employed in CMSD.”

Student Ambassadors - Whitney School
Whitney Young Elementary School is hosting three Patton College professional interns.

Patton College student Jordan Wells, a Middle Childhood Education major with a focus on science and social studies participated in the program this past fall, while Erin Gibbons, Marie Howell, and Sydney Trecarichi are currently participating this semester at William Rainey Harper Elementary. Wells was placed at Whitney M. Young, a pre-K-8 school on the East side of Cleveland. Her mentor teacher, Ryan McFeely, teaches science (grades 6-8) and social studies (grade 6).

“My experience has been great, and my mentor teacher—as well as the whole school’s staff—have been very welcoming and helpful,” said Wells, a Newark, Ohio, native. “Whitney Young implemented a personalized learning model this year, so I have been able to learn about and see firsthand how this model, which is based around giving students choices and flexibility, is utilized in the classroom. I have really enjoyed this. It is a non-traditional—yet very effective—way of teaching.”

Wells taught—and co-taught—several lessons with McFeely, which allowed them to give more personal attention to each student.

“Jordan was a huge help in my classroom; she learned valuable lessons, and the students loved her,” said McFeely. “The OHIO Teach Cleveland program is such a great resource for our school and for our students, and I’m so happy that we’ve been able to partner with The Patton College. It’s win-win for everyone.”

In addition to teaching, Wells observed classrooms in other grades, subjects, and disciplines, including special education.

“This was very valuable for me,” said Wells, who will be certified to teach grades 4-9 but had previously only worked with grades 6-8. “I will no doubt have students of all levels in my future as an educator.”

Teachers at Whitney Young have enjoyed having Wells in the school. She, and future OHIO students, provide an extra set of hands in the classroom and a fresh pedagogical perspective.

“Knowing the great quality of education that students receive at OHIO, we wanted to tap more directly into Ohio University students’ experiences and the excellent preparation they get in The Patton College of Education,” said Traum, who has worked at CMSD for more than two decades. “We have a lot of great students that come through the Cleveland State program, and we want to diversify our student interns who have been exposed to different teaching methodologies.”

Student Ambassadors - Welcome Poster
The Patton College team was greeted with the welcome message, “Ohio University Bobcats are going to love it here!”

The experience has reinforced for Wells that while there are similarities between rural and urban schools, there are key differences.

“While children from both rural and urban schools struggle with many of the same things in the classroom, urban students face their own unique adversities that are important to understand in order to provide them with the best learning experience,” said Wells. “My students are great kids. I have loved getting to know them and learning about their lives. Although they probably do not know it, they have already taught me a lot about appreciation, humility, sincerity, and a lot of patience.”

Wells has enjoyed the experience so much, in fact, that she plans to apply for jobs within CMSD after graduation.

“I would highly recommend this program to other Patton College students who are thinking about teaching in any city setting,” said Wells. “This opportunity not only allows students like myself to get a feel for what teaching environment they enjoy best, but it also gives experience and a well-rounded perspective for education in different, diverse settings.”

While the program remains in its pilot stage, the partnership between OHIO and CMSD figures to last well into the future.

“I’ve been super excited to work with colleagues at The Patton College, and I’m equally excited to see this program grow and develop,” said Traum. “The connection and collaboration have been awesome. I know we’re going to do something special.”

To apply for OHIO Teach Cleveland, students must be juniors and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. For more information about the program, contact Marcy Keifer Kennedy at keiferm1@ohio.edu.