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Ohio University Southern helping to teach our teachers

Generally we think of teachers as having their summers free; however, anyone who visited Ohio University Southern in June will soon realize that a three-month vacation for most teachers is a myth.

In June, more than 400 teachers spent classroom time on campus completing graduate level programs.

Teachers commit a great deal of their free time in professional development classes that enable them to hone their skills and to stay knowledgeable about teaching methods that are proven to be effective with today's students.

Classes include a range of topics, from becoming competent in using the latest technologies or strategies for helping struggling readers to becoming knowledgeable about new curriculum standards or classroom management practices.

The courses are varied, but the main reason teachers give for taking a summer course is the same - to help their students.

For a great many teachers in our region, it would not seem like summer if they did not come to OU Southern to learn some new tricks of the trade.

Children in our region are fortunate, for our teachers adhere to a basic principle - quality teaching impacts student learning.

On June 13 and 14, more than 100 teachers of primary students participated in IMPACT (Improving Math Practices and Classroom Teaching), funded by the Ohio Department of Education, the Science and Math Network and Ohio University Southern.

The conference focused on increasing teachers' knowledge about helping young children develop number sense that builds math problem solving and reasoning abilities.

Participants traveled from as far as Gallipolis, Chillicothe and Manchester to attend the conference that offered 25 different sessions lead by primary teacher leaders from across the region.

Forty middle and high school math and science teachers completed a 5-day program during the week of June 13 that integrated new technologies into math and science content areas.

Another 42 primary teachers completed a two-week program that focused on integrating math, science and literature.

Both programs were fully sponsored by an Ohio Systemic Initiative Discovery grant.

One week earlier, during the week of June 6, nearly 40 other teachers completed an adolescent literacy training program sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education.

For the past 10 years, classroom teachers from all across the region have participated in Ohio University Southern's summer offerings.

Teachers generally devote anywhere from two days to four weeks of their summer vacation taking classes.

Ohio requires that teachers complete a set number of graduate credit hours in order to renew and upgrade their credentials; however, many teachers who participate in OUS professional development programs don't need the course credit.

They attend with one purpose, and that is to gain new knowledge about teaching.

Whereas in years past, teachers had to travel to Columbus or Cincinnati in order to locate programs that met their professional needs, Ohio University Southern is now recognized statewide as a lead institution for meeting the professional growth needs of Southern Ohio teachers.

During the past 10 years, competitive state and federal grants, totaling more than $5 million have been received by OU Southern to support the continual growth of our region's teachers.

Because of the many professional development programs afforded our region's teachers during the summer, new information is applied in hundreds of classrooms each school year.

Our teachers want to close achievement gaps and ensure that their students achieve.

Ohio University Southern respects the fact that hundreds of teachers willingly give up their personal time each summer for this purpose.

OUS will continue to support the professional growth of our classroom teachers for the same reason - quality teaching impacts student learning.

Rena Allen is the director of the Office of Teacher Professional Development at Ohio University Southern. Allen can be reached at (740) 533-4550 or by e-mail at allenr@ohio.edu.