Aspiring Teachers Learn by Service to Community
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It’s normally quiet in the Courtright Memorial Library, at least in the summer months. But venture down to the ground level, and activity abounds. Four and five-year olds are sprawled across a colorful carpet, spelling words by assembling large puzzle pieces. Tiny index fingers make letters in the sand as little ones learn how to write their names at another table. It’s all fun, but it’s all about learning.
The Otterbein Summer Reading Program, consisting of four reading clinics, each designed for children of different age groups, is taking place now through August 18 and is offered for students in the community who could benefit from additional literacy instruction. The adult to student ratio is 1 to 1, or in some cases very small groups. At the beginning of each clinic, all students are assessed so that the tutors know the best ways to teach them by using their strengths and strengthening their needs. And the reading clinic includes those with special needs as well as typically developing children.
But local children are not the only ones who benefit from the clinic. In the clinic running currently, Otterbein students enrolled in Education 2600, Emergency Literacy in Inclusive Environment, are given the opportunity to practice their teaching skills by alternating between teaching, observing and researching resources. The course, taught by Westerville City Schools' teacher Betsy Byers-Spurlock, includes undergraduates in the Early Childhood program as well as graduate students in the MAE Literacy program.
“This clinic is a win-win. It provides a targeted, supervised context for our Otterbein students to practice cutting edge literacy strategies with the direct support of an experienced mentor. At the same time, it provides children with direct, targeted support in reading and writing,” explained Dr. Sue Constable, Education Department Chair. “The teaching is supervised by seasoned teachers with expertise and at least a Master’s degree in literacy.”
Byers-Spurlock and her students have transformed the lower level library space, known as Sarah’s Corner in memory of Westerville teacher Sarah Rose Gorsuch, into a vibrant learning center, complete with a teacher’s resource room.
Having access to children and resources early on in her program was attractive to Emily Pore, who is seeking post-baccalaureate teaching licensure. She has an undergraduate degree in business marketing, but realized it wasn’t her life’s passion. “They put you in classrooms right from the beginning to make sure this is what you want to do. You get field experience first,” she said. Coming from a family of teachers, she sought their advice. “Friends and family said that students were getting jobs and being paired for student teaching at Otterbein. The job opportunities attracted me and I wanted to stay in Westerville,” she explained.
The Department of Education is committed to providing a coherent teacher education program that integrates academics with practical experience. Otterbein offers the following: BSE (Bachelor of Science in Education undergraduate degree); MAE (Master of Arts in Education for licensed teachers); MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching for those desiring a master’s program including licensure); MAEM (Master of Arts in Educational Mathematics for AYA licensed teachers or community college math teachers); Post-Baccalaureate teacher licensure (for those who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree and wish to be licensed to teach). In addition, educators turn to Otterbein for professional development, endorsements, and additional licensure areas.