DELAWARE, Ohio – Kelly Maier, a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University, has been named the “Ohio Student Teacher of the Year” by the Ohio Association of Teacher Educators, a division of the Ohio Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Maier, of Cincinnati, is an early childhood education major with a concentration in special education and English. She received the student teaching award at a March 20 recognition ceremony in Dublin, Ohio. Ohio Wesleyan education professor Amy McClure, Ph.D., nominated Maier for the award, open to students from public and private colleges statewide.
“I nominated Kelly because she exemplifies everything we want teachers to be: smart, skilled in supporting the learning of young children, and passionate about her work,” said McClure, director of OWU’s early childhood education program. “She has a strong affinity for special needs children and created her own independent studies, held summer jobs, wrote a Theory-to-Practice Grant, and requested field experiences to ensure she learned as much as possible about teaching this population of children. That absolute dedication and commitment to her goals were additional qualities that I believed made her an excellent candidate for the award.”
Maier, also a graduate of The Summit Country Day School, plans to pursue an advanced degree in special education after she receives her Ohio Wesleyan undergraduate degree in May. She credits the university’s Department of Education with helping her to envision her future and to prepare for it.
“I have been placed in two special education classrooms while at Ohio Wesleyan, learning a great deal about children’s development and special education instructional strategies,” she said. “In addition, the faculty … helped me to finalize ideas concerning my Theory-into-Practice Grant: ‘Why Do Finnish Students Finish First?’ and supported the presentation of my findings upon my return to the United States. However, perhaps the greatest help my professors have given me is something intangible; they have inspired me to embark upon great endeavors in the field of education and bring change to the field.”
Using an Ohio Wesleyan-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant, Maier and Emma Goetz, a junior from Houston, Texas, visited Sipoo and Helsinki, Finland, in May 2013 to study the education system.
“I already believed in the power of community in a classroom; however, after returning from Finland I can truly see the impact a culture can have upon an educational system,” Maier said of the international experience. “Being a part of Finnish and Swedish schools allowed me to test my own beliefs about what I thought I knew about the Finnish Education System, and reflect upon how I could take my newly found insights into my own future classroom.”
Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Theory-to Practice Grant program and other curricular initiatives at owuconnection.owu.edu. Learn more about the nationally accredited OWU Department of Education at education.owu.edu.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.