OUS to have pilot preschool academy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ohio University Southern alumnae are teaming up with

future graduates to educate preschoolers using nontraditional methods.

Wendy Borstein, Mary Corbly-Martin and Patricia Moore who hold OUS bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education and are also licensed Ohio educators will be the lead teachers at the Ohio University Southern Preschool Academy. They will be assisted by students in the early childhood education program at OUS, Kathryn Wright, professor of early childhood education at OUS and the administrator of the OUS Preschool Academy, said via email.

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Moore said the program would not have strict curriculum or pencil and paper activities.

“We are providing education for our students at the university level as well as for the young children,” Moore said. “There’s a process for everyone involved.

Even as lead teachers, we are taking a child-centered approach, and we are learning from them, they are learning from us and student teacher’s as well.”

The children will learn through different styles, Borstein said.

“The children are molding the education they are getting,” she said. “It is a child-led education program and it will help us explore their learning styles so they can learn to the best of their abilities.”

Wright said implementing research-based methods and teaching future educators and children with methods that provide lifelong benefits are a few of the advantages of the program.

The program will incorporate hands-on activities using concrete objects to make it easier for children to better understand basic concepts, Wright said.

Borstein said the preschool would not be successful without everyone getting involved.

“We will need a lot of community support,” she said. “ I think if they can come in and see this is a child-centered approach, we are learning from them and they are learning from us and the student teachers as well, then they will.”

Brandi Cumpton, an OUS student teacher from Flatwoods, Ky., said she will gain firsthand experience in setting up and managing a classroom, but the children in the program could be getting a head start in front of others who do not attend preschool programs.

“The way education is going today, if the children are not in preschool, they are already behind once they go to kindergarten,” Cumpton said. “So, we need these programs because it makes their education journeys easy.”

Tanya Aldridge, also an OUS student teacher from Kitts Hill, said there are social benefits to children attending preschool.

“Kids that come to a setting start out earlier learning to share,” Aldridge said. “Sharing, caring, respecting others and learning rules are important because society has rules.”

The learning experience for the student teachers will be nontraditional as well, Ashley Bryant, an OUS student teacher from Ashland, Ky., said.

“The team teaching environment is more comfortable and less intimidating,” she said. “Its definitely going to be a learning experience.”

The student teachers said they are looking forward to collaborating, implementing lesson plans and building a curriculum together.

The two classrooms will have 20 children each, although there are only 10 children presently enrolled, Moore said.

She said the small number of children will allow smaller groups, and make it easier for the teachers to figure out how each of them learn and gear everything toward the individual children.

“We are hoping, through research, that we can prove if it is real to the child, it is going to have lasting effects,” Moore said. “ That’s what our long term goal is.”

The program also includes a snack, which incorporates nutrition into the curriculum and will assist the children in learning how to make healthy decisions and expose them to new foods, Moore said.

“We are trying to use every area of our days as a learning opportunity,” she said.

It is the first pre-school program OU has facilitated and Dan Evans, William Willian and Rena Allen have made the vision of the university possible, Wright said.

Anyone interested in more information about the program should access the Ohio University Southern Preschool Academy Web site at www.southern.ohiou.edu/academy or pick up an application on campus at the student services office.