Faculty Experiences Related to Diversity

 

The professional education faculty at Ohio Northern University, although not as diverse as might be desired, has a remarkably extensive set of knowledge and background experiences which allows them to prepare candidates to work with students from diverse populations.  This experience includes coursework and scholarship as well as firsthand practical experience teaching in highly diverse schools.  This combination of knowledge and practice allows the faculty to integrate appropriate concepts within coursework in a way which is most to the candidates’ advantage.  Some of the faculty experiences are described in this section.

All eight full-time faculty and three part-time faculty (two faculty with shared position, one adjunct) within the Education Department have K-12 teaching experience and most have extensive experience.  Many of those faculty taught in diverse settings at one point in the K-12 career.  One faculty member taught in five different districts including one which was 90% minority students and in which all her kindergartners qualified for free or reduced lunches.  This faculty member also taught art for over ten years to classrooms of multi-handicapped students as well as multiple inclusion classes with a variety of ethnicities.  Another faculty member taught in a racially diverse setting where at least half of the students were from a non-white population.  One taught, early in her career, in a de facto segregated school with 99% black population and then another school with a 98% black population later moving to an integrated school in the same district.  One taught high school in a school with at least 85% Latino population, served as an assistant principal in a middle school with at least 50% minority population, and coordinated a county teacher induction program for both new teachers and mentors most of whom worked in high-minority, low-income urban schools.  One taught in the rural south in a high school with at least 50% minority population.  Another taught special education for nine years with an academically and intellectually diverse group of students and physically disabled students.  It is clear that the ONU professional education faculty bring firsthand experience to teacher candidates and can integrate these with coursework and advising.

In addition, faculty have had other experiences which impact the ability to prepare candidates for a variety of classrooms.  Most have participated in  graduate coursework, programs, study, or even led activities related to this area including topics in comparative education, educational foundations, social studies, multicultural literature, cross-cultural language and academic development, cross-cultural and multicultural education, urban literacy education, and special education.  Some faculty connect regularly with the Office of Multicultural Development to enhance their own learning and that of students.  One faculty member has, for many years, organized an ONU tutoring program for the neighboring highly diverse Lima City Schools and worked with the Instruments for Change program which provides musical instruments to high needs students.  Another served as a Special Olympics volunteer for ten years.  One faculty member taught literacy courses for a Sioux reservation in North Dakota for two summers and currently serves on the Continuous Improvement Committee for Lima City Schools.  Most faculty have traveled both professionally and for pleasure with recent trips including South Africa, China, Peru, Mexico, Europe, Australia, and others.  At least four professional education faculty have traveled recently and on multiple occasions for extensive summer trips to South Africa where a group of faculty have a collaborative partnership for professional development with the schools of the village of Lephisi.  These additional experiences in addition to the K-12 experiences shared above have prepared a group of faculty who can lead teacher candidates through the challenges, issues, and rewards of working with today’s diverse school populations.