Community/Public Health Students Assist with Metro COVID-19 Response Efforts

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the final semester for UCO seniors turned out to be anything but ordinary. In true Broncho style, many faculty and students have embraced this change with flexibility and determination. Students in one senior capstone course at Central have even found a way to assist with metro COVID-19 response efforts as a part of their final learning project.

UCO Student Kelly Smith

Community/public health senior, Kelly Smith, takes a selfie as she sits down to write her briefing on April 11.

The Oklahoma City Metro Shelter Directors Response Team contacted faculty in Central’s community/public health program to assist people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though students and faculty could not help in person, they could meet a need by providing a daily briefing for the shelter response team. The team has been busy implementing new strategies to protect the populations they serve, leaving little time to seek out daily additional resource information. These much-needed briefings are providing information directly applicable to managing vulnerable populations and specifically people experiencing homelessness during this time along with general daily COVID-19 updates.

The assignment was quickly incorporated into the community/public health capstone class taught by professor J. Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D., as a substitute for the midterm project. Each student will complete one daily briefing to submit to the response team by 3 p.m. The briefings are now being sent to 46 individuals involved with the Oklahoma City Metro Shelter Directors Response Team.

“I am excited about this, as it is a community partner requested need and it gives our students a role to do during this pandemic while still social distancing at home,” said Cowan.

“I am hopeful students will be able to look back on this chapter and know they had a positive impact in otherwise uncertain times.”

Students will research the topics using credible information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other professional health and medical sources. An example of the briefings is shown here in the daily briefing from April 8, created by community/public health student Sakinah Al Saleh & edited by Wellness Management graduate student, Bryan Shannon: Health Brief April 8.

Math for Social Justice

Education Students at the Teacher StoreWhen most people think back on their college statistics class, they likely think of a semester full of charts, numbers, and confusing formulas that take hours to understand. A new course at UCO, Math for Social Justice, is aiming to take a new approach at teaching this math concept while providing students with real-world experiences to better prepare them for their future career in teaching.

In the elementary and early childhood education programs, all students are required by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to take twelve hours of math course credits as part of the 4×12 general education requirement. In the past, these students have opted to take a statistics class in a traditional math course format, with little information provided in regards to how statistics will apply in a future classroom setting. Professors in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction saw this as an opportunity to create a new statistics course, specifically for education majors.

“When we received permission to create this course, I thought ‘there are a lot of issues in schools that deal with social injustices,’ and we realized that math and social justice pair well together. I also wanted to combine a service learning project with this element,” said Darlinda Cassel, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

“This class allowed our students to collect data for statistics and also complete a service project for a nonprofit.”

Math for Social Justice pairs statistics with facts and realities about injustices in the world, specifically centered on education and resources teachers often need. To help study this, the class has partnered with the nonprofit organization Feed the Children which operates a Teacher Store warehouse in Oklahoma City. Businesses across the country donate items to the store where teachers from title I schools across the state are then able to visit and select free materials for their classrooms. Items in the store range from books and writing materials to snack foods and classroom furniture.

Education Students Touring the Teacher Warehouse
The goal of the project is for students to conduct research on if teachers’ needs are being met by the materials they receive at the store and how the process could be more effective. All students are responsible for a portion of the project that has included visiting the Teacher Store to interview teachers and observe the processes involved. They will then compile their research and present it to administration at Feed the Children at the end of the course.

The process has been eye opening for many students in the class as they have been exposed to the need often faced by teachers in low-income districts when trying to provide materials for their classrooms.

“I talked to a wide range of people at the teacher store that included teachers and school administrators, and all of their needs seemed to be the same,” said Dillon Wise, a senior elementary education major.

“They are just trying to help support their students however they can.”

Karen Inselman, a senior elementary education major, explained, “One teacher at the store that I talked to said she was sometimes spending around $100 per week to just help feed her students, so the teacher store has been a good resource for her.”

Overall, the students agree they have gained so much more than just statistics knowledge throughout the course, and it has reaffirmed their passion for their future profession.

“I took this course, because I felt like it would give me an opportunity to experience more than just a traditional classroom setting,” said Taylor Gutierrez, a junior elementary education major.

“I feel like I actually know this material and can apply it to my future school setting since I have had a chance to use it for real-world experiences in this class.”

Students will complete this course in May 2020, and the course is expected to be offered again in a similar format for the upcoming fall.

Faculty Recognitions: Jill Davis

Jill Davis, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was honored with the inaugural 2019 Advocacy Award from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE). She was selected for her outstanding advocacy in the field of early childhood education through her work at Central and was invited to attend the NAECTE awards reception in Nashville, TN in November to accept the award.

Davis currently teachers courses in the elementary education program and also serves as the faculty adviser for the Central Association for Responsive Educators (CARE) student organization. Jill Davis receives award at Education Conference

CALL @ UCO: Transforming Students and the Community, One Class at a Time

Student Leading CALL Class
UCO student Marlee Hearn knew from a young age she had a desire to someday spend her career working with older adults. Her passion for health and wellness led her to pursue a degree in kinesiology-exercise/fitness management where she became connected with the Center for Active Living and Learning (CALL).

“Throughout my time in the kinesiology program my professors would always encourage me to get involved with CALL because of my passion to work with older adults, but I didn’t know if my schedule would allow for it,” said Hearn.

“I love CALL so much now. I can’t imagine not being a part of it.”

The goal of CALL is simple: to promote healthy living and lifelong learning throughout the lifespan with particular emphasis on UCO students and older adults. The program also offers targeted, transformative learning experiences for students which recently earned the center and its two co-directors, Melissa Powers and Jacilyn Olson, the Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award at UCO’s 2019 Fall Forum. The health and wellness benefits of the various classes are supported throughout years of research and offer a great way for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom in a professional environment.

Hearn currently holds one of the paid student positions for the program as the CALL student project coordinator. Her main roles are to handle the scheduling of classes and management of class instructors, many of whom are her peers. This role has taught her how to communicate in a professional environment, the importance of being organized, and just how rewarding it is to work with members of the community.

She explained that not only do CALL classes provide for health and wellness opportunities, but also for valuable, intergenerational social interactions.

“I really get to know my participants and about their lives, and they always ask about what I’m doing in college.”

CALL initially began through a grant-funded program under the direction of Kinesiology and Health Studies Professor, Melissa Powers, in 2008 that allowed kinesiology students to visit community centers and hold classes for older adults. In 2016, CALL officially transformed into a year-round program held on Central’s campus which has now grown to host eleven classes per week.

CALL also provides 24 different classes per week in communities across central Oklahoma at no cost to participants through partnerships with the Areawide Aging Agency and various residential communities.

Larissa Boyd, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies, credits CALL for sparking her interest in community-based research. She was part of the initial grant-funded research program which allowed kinesiology students to lead fitness classes in the community back in 2009.

“I seriously doubt I would’ve ended up as a faculty member here had I not had the opportunity to learn more about community based research through this program,” said Boyd.

“It changed my perspective on how education research can impact the community and students.”

All students in the kinesiology-exercise/fitness management program are now able to gain valuable experiences through CALL with a required involvements in several courses such as introduction to kinesiology and physical activity and aging along with the opportunity to become paid CALL student project coordinators and class instructors.

The future for the program looks bright as new funding opportunities have allowed CALL to continue to expand not only on UCO’s campus but also in the metro community with a new class recently being added at the Okarche Center of Family Love.

Hearn explained she hopes to see CALL continue to transform the lives of students just as it did for her.

“I hope to see CALL keep growing because it provides great experiences for students and a benefit for older adults who might not have this low-cost opportunity anywhere else.”

For more information about CALL at UCO and in the community, visit uco.edu/call or contact the program coordinators at call@uco.edu or 405-974-5309.

UCO Hosts Troops to Teachers Program

Veterans attend UCO Troops to Teachers Program

 

 

 

 

 

UCO is continuing its mission of providing educational opportunities for veterans by partnering with Oklahoma’s Troops to Teachers to host the annual Troops to Teachers Jump School professional development program. The first seminar was held on Central’s campus in June, and the program will once again be offered in summer 2020. The three-day seminar was open to veterans who are currently teaching or planning to enter the education profession.

Over thirty veterans attended the sessions which focused on how to develop a positive classroom learning environment, design engaging instruction, integrate technology into the classroom and meaningfully assess student learning. Participants also attended a special ceremony in Old North with former UCO President Don Betz and current UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar. Special thank you to professors from the Educational Sciences, Foundations and Research department for helping to plan and lead this event!

Student Spotlight: Donovan Cousan

Donovan Cousan PresentationDonovan Cousan, a 2019 community/public health graduate, interned this summer with Project IMHOTEP, which is supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He was selected as one of seven students from Project IMHOTEP to present his poster at CDC Headquarters. The title of his presentation was ‘The Progression in Biodefense: Exploratory Analysis of the National Biodefense Strategy.’

Presentations were given to the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS), the Dr. James A. Ferguson emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellows and CDC staff.

Faculty Recognitions: Rachelle Franz

Franz receives award from OKC Fire DepartmentUCO College of Education and Professional Studies faculty member, Rachelle Franz, Ed.D., was recognized by the Oklahoma City Fire Department for her assistance with the OK CHILD Injury Prevention Program. This program was created to educate children and families across Oklahoma to prevent unintentional child injuries and deaths. UCO students and Franz developed all lesson plans utilized in the program. Franz currently serves as an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and health studies.

Student Spotlight: Eric Sample

Recent UCO industrial safety graduate Eric Sample was chosen to serve the State of Oklahoma as a youth judge for a statewide video contest, “Speak Out for Workplace Safety.” As a judge, Sample worked with a panel of judges to narrow down the 51 video entries to one that would be used to teach teens about workplace safety. The contest was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Labor (ODOL) and the Oklahoma Safety Council (OSC).

Eric Sample with Oklahoma Labor CommissionerSample attended the “Speak Out for Workplace Safety” event at the Capitol and had the opportunity to listen to speeches from Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Leslie Osborn, Senator Rob Standridge (District 15), Senator Casey Murdock (District 27), and top safety experts Carmen Martinez (Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and Betsey Kulakowski (OSC).

Study Tour Captures Power of Transformative Learning Experience

When Susan Hanny began her graduate degree at UCO in 2016, the notion of studying abroad did not seem possible. Hanny was a nontraditional, adult student with two children and a full-time job; however, when she heard about a spring break study tour to Italy through the Adult Education and Safety Sciences department in March of 2017, her longtime love of travel and desire to visit Europe led her to accept the opportunity. The study tour, titled, “An Italian Experience,” was led by UCO professor Lori Risley, Ed.D., and centered on the themes of culture, education and leadership. During the tour, each student was required to prepare and plan an itinerary for one day of the trip. This allowed students to take an experimental approach to what they were learning about adult and higher education and leadership and apply it in a real-world setting with fellow travelers.

“Students were responsible for navigating the group through transportation and daily activities,” Risley said. “They had to do a lot of pre-planning for this, and most of the transportation signs aren’t in English which makes it even more difficult.” The tour included visits to significant sites in both Padua and Venice and gave UCO students a glimpse at the history, architecture and artistic elements of the country. The group even had the opportunity to interact with students and faculty from the University of Padua. Transformed and encouraged by this ten-day educational and cultural experience, Hanny then requested permission from the university to develop her own independent study course to conduct research on the same tour in 2018, with Risley as her mentor.

The goal was to discern the ways in which students experience transformative learning through an international study tour. This time, Hanny traveled to Italy as a research observer. The results of her research displayed a strong connection between study tours and the transformative learning concept. Each participant found he or she had been transformed in some way by the study tour, and surveys of the students showed the experience proved significant in displaying the concept of transformative learning. Some students, many who were middle-aged adults, gained a stronger appreciation for art or culture, while others were simply given the opportunity to experience life outside of the United States for the first time.

“Study tours can move people from just learning knowledge to actually seeking experiences that mean something and are valuable to them as a person.” – Susan Hanny

Her findings, with assistance from Risley, were recently published in an international journal, and the experience has encouraged her to continue her education by recently applying to the Swansea at UCO Ph.D. program. Both Hanny and Risley agree that they hope these opportunities continue to remain a possibility for graduate learners in hopes that more will be impacted and transformed. For more information on how to support the UCO College of Education’s study tour programs, contact Erin Ta at eta1@uco.edu.