Filling a mutual need: Creating a teaching and learning center
The Columbus Community Teaching and Learning Center began June 1, 2015 offering students, teachers, university faculty and community partners a centralized and accessible space to learn and teach alongside one another. The center was created through a partnership among the Department of Teaching and Learning, Columbus City Schools and Graham Family of Schools.
Caroline Clark, professor of teaching and learning, and her research team have worked to find the best approach to improve literacy support for elementary school students in Columbus for a few years now.
In 2013 and 2014, the team’s studies quickly discovered gaps in after school literacy programming available in some parts of the city.
Even though there are several options available for kindergarten to fifth-grade students, getting to them isn’t always easy. To enhance those activities and improve access to areas of highest need, the OSU research team recommended strong family involvement and community-university partnerships.
The result of those recommendations is the Columbus Community Teaching and Learning Center.
The brand new Columbus Community Teaching and Learning center opens with weeklong course teaching educators and students active and dramatic learning techniques to improve reading.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to supplement and complement the literacy efforts already happening in Columbus and to hear directly from community partners about their strengths, commitments and what they want to do,” Clark said.
“What we want most is benefits for students,” said Rodney Harrelson, Columbus City Schools administrator. “This center is as real world as it gets. These experiences are going to provide significant learning opportunities for students in some of our lowest performing schools and will give OSU students experiences to learn what it is to be an urban educator.”
The Graham Primary School and Graham Expeditionary Middle School on 16th Avenue serve as the home base for the center. College-level Teaching and Learning courses will be conducted there and elementary students who need individualized support can find tutors. The center’s long-term vision also includes family programs and bilingual aid in its menu of services.
“This partnership allows educators to have a living laboratory and to put what they’re learning to work right away,” said James Kutnow, dean and director of the Graham schools. “For preservice teachers, being able to work with students now and in the future will be a wonderful opportunity for their development.”
The need is great enough that expansion is already on the horizon. By fall, satellite sites will help students in other high-need areas, Clark said. Exact locations will be determined in collaboration with Columbus City Schools and local partners.
The center was created through the generosity of Dick Foster and his wife, Louesa. They created a fund in honor of Dick’s mother, Gladys Foster Anderson, a 1925 EHE alumna. She supported children’s literacy for more than 30 years as an elementary teacher, consultant and teacher for the next generation of educators at Ohio State and Ohio University.
“Our family is extremely pleased with how Ohio State has embraced the new program created from my mother’s fund,” Dick Foster said. “We hope the center will become an integral part of cooperation among the university, Columbus City Schools and other partners to benefit parents and children.”