Education news briefs

Staff Reports

Dr. Charles McCall (center) is presented with the W. Lloyd Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award by MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Barney Cochran, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer (right) during the Traditional Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. McCall was appointed by founding president Dr. Stephen Nease and Dean Lloyd Taylor at Mount Vernon Nazarene College and spent 36 years teaching at MVNU.

Dr. Charles McCall (center) is presented with the W. Lloyd Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award by MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Barney Cochran, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer (right) during the Traditional Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. McCall was appointed by founding president Dr. Stephen Nease and Dean Lloyd Taylor at Mount Vernon Nazarene College and spent 36 years teaching at MVNU.

Traditional and GPS Commencement Ceremonies Honor MVNU Class of 2017

Mount Vernon Nazarene University honored this year’s 574 graduates on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The Traditional Commencement Ceremony was held in the morning and 251 degrees were conferred to the students. The Graduate and Professional Studies Ceremony was held in the afternoon when 323 students received their degrees.

Rev. Douglas Wyatt, District Superintendent of the Eastern Kentucky District of the Church of the Nazarene, spoke at the Baccalaureate service on Friday, April 28, 2017. He reminded each graduate that they all have a unique story weaved together by God.

“We can see God’s handiwork in all of it … God continues to weave together your life and this day is one of those days. Together, graduates remember where they came from in order to embrace where they are now,” said Wyatt.

Dr. Kevin W. Mannoia, Professor of Ministry and Chaplain at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif., who has 30 years of ministry leadership experience, spoke at the Traditional Commencement Ceremony on Saturday morning. Mannoia advised new graduates to “walk around in a way that is worthy.” Pulling scripture from Ephesians 4:1, Mannoia encouraged students to “lead a life that is worthy of which you have been called.”

“You carry with you the changed nature of who you are and the changed thinking that has occurred to you here and you go to make a difference in a world that is in desperate need of what you have to offer them,” said Mannoia.

“Competence without godliness breeds arrogance. Godliness without competence breeds irrelevance. So I’m asking you in all your walking around, in all of what you do, do it in a way that is both godly and competent because that will then be worthy of the call to which you have been called … may I suggest to you that the value of your call is not derived from what you produce; the value of your call is derived from the one who called you to it.”

The 2017 Service Above Self Awards were presented to Amanda Sparks and Edward Solano. These awards are given annually to the male and female graduates who exemplify the school’s motto of “To Seek to Learn is to Seek to Serve.”

The W. Lloyd Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Charles R. McCall, D.M., for his outstanding work. In the early days of Mount Vernon Nazarene College, McCall was appointed by President Stephen Nease and Dean Lloyd Taylor as the first religion professor at MVNC. He spent 36 years teaching at MVNU and became professor Emeritus of Religion.

The Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2016-17 academic year was presented to LeeAnn H. Couts, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology.

Dr. Michael VanZant currently serves as the pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Fairmont, W.Va., and serves as the Graduate and Professional Studies Coordinator of Religion Programs for MVNU. During the MVNU GPS Ceremony, VanZant gave graduates a definition of purpose which is measured by faithfulness to God rather than bottom lines.

“While physical success can be measured by bottom lines, accomplishments, or large houses, human fulfillment is found in the faithful use of the talents and abilities that God has instilled in you. As you hone and continue to enhance these abilities through education and application, so also hone and enhance your sense of purpose,” said VanZant.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 28 states and 17 countries/U.S. territories.

Former school superintendent leading association’s student achievement effort

COLUMBUS — A retired superintendent with more than 30 years in education is leading a new Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) initiative to increase student achievement.

Kim Miller-Smith has been named the association’s new senior student achievement consultant.

Her work at OSBA will focus on helping school boards and others understand their roles in closing the achievement gap and advancing the needs of all students.

She served as superintendent of Canal Winchester Local Schools in Franklin County from 2007 to 2012.

“As part of OSBA’s strategic plan, Kim’s expertise will help school boards lead their districts to academic success,” OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said. “Kim’s background in curriculum, experience as a superintendent and position as an OSBA regional manager uniquely qualifies her for this role. We have the right person in the right place at the right time.”

School board members make decisions that impact programs and distribute resources in a manner that improves test scores, keeps kids in school and better prepares all students for careers and higher education. OSBA’s goal is to help make improved student achievement an ongoing and visible part of every Ohio school board’s mission.

Finding and promoting distinctive ways to educate students is one of the association’s top priorities. Each year, the OSBA Student Achievement Fair at the Capital Conference and Trade Show in Columbus highlights an impressive display of innovative curriculum ideas.

The 100 school programs selected to take part in the fair are based on their originality and creativity in boosting academic performance. The fair highlights these programs so districts can learn from each other.

Also, each board of education appoints a student achievement liaison to OSBA’s Student Achievement Leadership Team to share ways districts are improving student achievement.

In its 62nd year, OSBA leads the way to educational excellence by serving Ohio’s public school board members and the diverse districts they represent through superior service, unwavering advocacy and creative solutions.

University of Dayton student Dante Pezzutti wins research fellowship

DAYTON — University of Dayton pre-medicine major Dante Pezzutti is one of 24 students globally to receive an international fellowship award and stipend to perform scientific research in summer 2017.

Pezzutti, a junior from Westerville, won the American Physiological Society Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship award. The award provides a $4,000 stipend for the summer and transportation costs to attend the Experimental Biology National Research Conference in San Diego in spring 2018.

The award targets undergraduates who are new to research. In addition to the monetary prize, the program also provides online educational modules in which fellows learn about research ethics, writing scientific papers and various other professional development topics.

“My research is focused on a freeze-tolerant frog called Hyla chrysoscelis, which instead of hibernating or migrating away from the cold during winter, can actually freeze up to 65 percent of its body,” Pezzutti said about the project he’s been working on since fall 2016. “Instead of leaving the cold these frogs simply tolerate it. In the springtime it thaws and essentially resumes life. It’s almost as if the animal is frozen in time.”

Pezzutti added that examining the frogs’ capability to freeze itself is important because many of the proteins found in frogs are similar to the proteins found in humans.

“If we can gain a better understanding of how these proteins work in the frogs’ bodies then we could potentially apply these freeze-tolerant mechanisms to human organs, which further in the future could revolutionize the way in which we preserve human organs for transplant,” Pezzutti said.

Knowing he wanted to attend a research-based medical school in the future, Pezzutti sought research opportunities at the University at the midpoint of his sophomore year.

“I was looking for professors to do research under and I saw that Dr. Carissa Krane had a research interest that aligned with some of my initial interests,” he said. “I set up a time to meet with her to discuss some of those interests and as we continued to explore research opportunities I found this new interest with the freeze-tolerant frogs, and then I started research at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester.”

Pezzutti’s advisor also has high hopes for his complex research.

“As a premed major, Dante became interested in pursuing an honors thesis project that uses the tools of molecular biology, molecular physiology, and ecophysiology to explore the underpinnings of freeze tolerance in Cope’s gray tree frog, Hyla chyroscelis,” Krane said. “The American Physiological Society Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship award that Dante received is aimed at supporting his faculty mentored undergraduate research experience this summer. We have high goals for the outcome of this project, which includes Dante publishing and presenting this research as a first author on a poster at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting.”

Pezzutti said before choosing an undergraduate institution, he was torn between the University of Dayton and a much larger school. Ultimately, he is appreciative of his choice because he feels that the University has allowed his involvement with research to expand beyond the classroom.

“The characteristics of UD have allowed me to get really involved with undergraduate research,” Pezzutti said. “It was easy for me to reach out to various professors and ask about their research, and professors are able to meet with students and discuss in-depth research interests and possibilities.”

Like many other University undergraduates who have participated in research, Pezzutti described the experience and opportunities as transformative.

“Through doing undergraduate research at UD, this whole new world of research and the possibilities of research in medicine have opened up to me and really expanded my interests, so I definitely want to integrate research into my medical career in the future,” he said. “I used to want to be a doctor so I could help others, and that dream is still alive, but now I want to integrate research into that career to expand the opportunities that there are in medicine to help a greater number of people.”

The University of Dayton is a top-tier, national, Catholic, research institution. Founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary (the Marianists), we focus on educating the whole person, connecting learning with leadership and service. Through student clubs, campus recreation, education abroad, research, service-learning and career preparation, students are encouraged to engage the world, developing a critical mind and compassionate heart.

Ohio Wesleyan Ranks as One of Nation’s Top Teacher Prep Programs

Miami University of Ohio & University of Dayton Rank in Top 10 Percent

University of Rio Grande and Defiance College Rank Among Weakest in Nation

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) releases its latest ratings for 717 undergraduate programs that prepare high school teachers, including 38 in Ohio.

Of the 16 programs nationally to be named to NCTQ’s list of the “Nation’s Top Tier Secondary Teacher Prep Programs,” Ohio can claim one program, Ohio Wesleyan University.

“Top Tier” programs have solid admission standards, provide sufficient preparation in each candidate’s intended subject area, and show them how best to teach that subject. They also do well teaching candidates how to manage a classroom and providing and ensuring the high quality of practice opportunities.

Top and Bottom Programs in Ohio

Program; National Percentile

Ohio Wesleyan University; 99

Bluffton University; 25

Miami University of Ohio; 94

Notre Dame College; 18

University of Dayton; 94

Bowling Green State University; 13

John Carroll University; 89

Ursuline College; 11

Ohio Northern University; 89

University of Rio Grande; 8

Marietta College; 86

Defiance College; 5

Mount Vernon Nazarene University; 86

Kent State University; 83

Capital University; 81

Ashland University; 76

Key National Findings: As for overall performance of the 700+ programs, a common problem that surfaced in the analysis is the weak content preparation provided to science and social studies teacher candidates. That weakness falls in sharp contrast to almost uniformly strong preparation in English and mathematics content in the same institutions. A sizeable portion of programs nationally (43 percent) struggle to prepare teachers who will be qualified to teach the subjects under the umbrella of either science or social studies. For example, even though history is the subject most teachers with general social studies certification will be asked to teach, one out of five programs requires minimal to no history courses of their candidates.

Through a combination of licensing test and coursework requirements, all programs in Ohio earn an A for content preparation in the sciences.

Only 51 percent of programs in Ohio earn an A for content preparation in the social studies, compared to 64 percent of programs nationally.

To see how programs in each state perform on their coverage of science go here, and for social studies go here.

Only 42 percent of programs succeed at teaching future teachers both the content and teaching methods for their subject. For a list of these programs in each state, go here.

Additional Findings:

A quarter of all programs do not require a course in the best ways to teach a specific subject. In Ohio, just 12 percent of programs do not require teacher candidates to take a methods course in their subject area.

There are early signs of some programs becoming more selective in their admissions – nationally 57 percent of programs draw most of their students from the top half of the college-going population. In Ohio, 63 percent of programs do so. For a list of programs’ selectivity rank in each state go here.

Among sufficiently selective programs, half also meet diversity goals including five in Ohio — Miami University of Ohio, University of Dayton, John Carroll University, University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University. For a full list of selective and diverse programs in each state, go here.

Only 6 percent of programs nationally pay sufficient attention to the quality of their student teaching by establishing an expectation that only skilled teachers should be allowed to mentor a future teacher and requiring student teachers to be regularly observed by program staff. In Ohio, 8 percent of programs perform well in this area. However, more than a third of programs do not provide student teachers with either a strong mentor or sufficient observations. For a list of programs with strong student teaching in each state go here.

Fewer than half of all programs nationally (44 percent) evaluate teacher candidates on their use of the most effective strategies for managing classrooms while student teaching. In Ohio, only a third of programs ensure that future teachers have this experience. For a list of programs that perform well on classroom management in each state, go here.

Recommendations: Based on this research, NCTQ recommends that states make sure that high school teachers have a deep understanding of the content they will teach students, a goal that can be met by better licensing tests, not just changing coursework requirements. Most states, including Ohio, are overdue for revamping their licensing tests, as most allow a high score in one subject to compensate for a low score in another. For instance, Ohio could strengthen teacher content knowledge by requiring that licensing tests for Integrated Science and Integrated Social Studies certification adequately assess teachers in all of the subjects they will be certified to teach. Currently, only Arizona, Minnesota, and Missouri have strong tests in all core subject areas.

NCTQ also calls on programs to raise subject content requirements to require a solid education in all the subjects the future teacher will be licensed to teach, even in the broad categories of science and social studies. For more on what programs do to successfully ensure the preparation of all candidates in science, go here, and for social studies, go here.

This edition of the Teacher Prep Review analyzes undergraduate programs preparing secondary school teachers. The next set of ratings from NCTQ will appear in Fall 2017 and will cover graduate and alternative (or nontraditional) programs preparing elementary teachers. The ratings for graduate and nontraditional secondary programs will follow in Spring 2018, followed by undergraduate and graduate special education programs in Fall 2018.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality:

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is a nonpartisan research and policy group, committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. NCTQ is the nation’s expert on the quality of teacher preparation programs and evaluates national teacher education against evidence-based criteria. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website,

Leland aims to shine light on how charter schools spend taxpayer dollars

Lawmaker says charter industry should be held to same accountability standards as public schools

COLUMBUS— State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) introduced legislation to improve charter school transparency and accountability by permitting the state auditor to track all taxpayer money received by the private, for-profit schools. The proposed legislation follows a state ruling against ECOT, Ohio’s largest, failing online charter school, for misappropriating at least $60 million in taxpayer funds by falsely inflating student attendance.

“Ohio taxpayers deserve a full and complete accounting for every one of their hard-earned dollars invested in education, whether the money is directed to public school districts or charter schools,” said Leland. “Charter schools and their management companies shouldn’t be able to hide their spending of public funds behind closed doors. This bill will close a loophole in state law and help ensure charter schools in Ohio operate in a transparent, accountable manner.”

Leland’s legislation clarifies that money charter schools receive from the Ohio Department of Education are public funds, and remain public even in cases where charter schools use the taxpayer dollars to pay management companies to oversee daily operations. The state funds charter schools receive would be subject to the same requirements related to permissible expenditures and auditing by the state auditor as state funds allocated to public school districts.

“Given the fact that Ohio is in the middle of an almost one-billion-dollar budget shortfall, it is now more important than ever to make sure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted or misused,” Leland added.

In a 2015 Ohio Supreme Court decision, several justices criticized the current legal framework that allows charter management companies to use taxpayer money without any transparency or accountability requirements.

Obhof and Terhar Issue Statement in Response to Cincinnati School Incident

COLUMBUS—Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and State Senator Lou Terhar (R-Green Township) issued the following statement regarding a Cincinnati elementary school’s actions in a tragic incident involving an 8-year-old student:

“Like many people across the nation, we’ve read with concern the news reports of the incident at Carson Elementary School. We’ve asked the chairs of the Senate’s Education and Government Oversight committees to look into the facts of the case and use what we learn to ensure that our schools are adequately protecting our students.

No parent should ever have to question the transparency of school officials when it comes to the health and safety of their child, and we have an obligation to work together to combat the scourge of bullying. While we plan to answer some troubling questions about this case in particular by seeking input from school officials and law enforcement, we also want to take a closer look at what’s being done statewide to keep our students safe and our parents informed.”

NOTE: This statement follows Cincinnati media reports of an incident leading to a suicide by an 8-year-old student. The student’s mother claims school officials failed to notify her of the alleged assault.

Senator Obhof represents the 22nd Ohio Senate District, which encompasses all of Medina, Ashland and Richland counties as well as portions of Holmes county. He currently serves as President of the Ohio Senate. Learn more at

Senator Lou Terhar represents the 8th District in the Ohio Senate, which encompasses a portion of Hamilton county. Learn more at

Dr. Charles McCall (center) is presented with the W. Lloyd Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award by MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Barney Cochran, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer (right) during the Traditional Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. McCall was appointed by founding president Dr. Stephen Nease and Dean Lloyd Taylor at Mount Vernon Nazarene College and spent 36 years teaching at MVNU. Charles McCall (center) is presented with the W. Lloyd Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award by MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Barney Cochran, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer (right) during the Traditional Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. McCall was appointed by founding president Dr. Stephen Nease and Dean Lloyd Taylor at Mount Vernon Nazarene College and spent 36 years teaching at MVNU.

Staff Reports