Spotlight on Jessie-Over the Rhine Residency Program

Congratulations to Danielle Linowes, Jessie Davidson from Teacher Education and Megan Krach from Educational Psychology, who completed the fall 2015 Over-the-Rhine Residency Project as a part of their as part of their student teaching. These student teachers worked at two different schools: Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Oyler Community School. All did their student-teaching as part of the Urban Teacher Cohort Program at Miami University, directed by Tammy Schwartz of College of Education, Health, and Society (EHS). Kim Wachenheim, also of EHS was the students’ teaching supervisor.

From Thomas Dutton, Director of the Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over the Rhine:

“Offered through the University’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, students from many walks of life moved to Over-the-Rhine for a full semester, living together, taking courses, engaging in reflection, and serving deep community need with neighborhood organizations, residents, and organizers… a primary goal is for students and community members, through the relationships and trust they build, to come to see the humanity beneath the narratives that circulate about Over-the-Rhine. Too often these narratives dehumanize; we come together to develop empathy.”

Today we spotlight a reflection from Jessie Davidson from the Teacher Education Department:

“What will I miss most about Over-the-Rhine and the Residency Program? Bonnie always talks about getting the rug ripped out from underneath you and you begin to question things you had never thought about. The rug was first ripped out from underneath me my freshman year when I came for an urban plunge and through the Urban Teaching Cohort it continued to be ripped out from underneath me. I did the Residency Program thinking I knew what to expect because I had done two plunges, the Cincinnati Summer Internship Program (CSIP) as well as many visits to Over-the-Rhine with the UTC. I thought enough rugs had been ripped and I was now ready to be a part of the community and be there for my future students. But I learned there is always one more that can be ripped from you and lead you to question the world around you. That there is always something new to learn, a story or anything that can change the way you think if you keep your mind open. That is what I will miss most about Over-the-Rhine and the Residency Program: having the rug ripped out from underneath me on a daily basis.

I learned through working with my students and their parents that relationships are most important above all. That getting to know your students, their family, and their stories is vital to education. Students all have a different story and it is important your student know you are always there to listen and be there for them. Learn why they only come to school six days out of a whole month, learn why they always yell in the classroom and are quick to swing at other students, and listen to them and together figure out a solution to help them become the best version of themselves. I spent approximately twelve hours at my school on a daily basis. I came early, I ate lunch with my students, I worked with them after school, and I tutored, I drove my students home, I sat on their sofas and listened to their parent’s stories, I texted parents, and I walked to the convenient store with my students after school. I talked to them about their hopes and dreams, I listened to them cry, and then cried for them in the privacy of my own car. I experienced more joy and more sorrow than I could possibly imagine.

Living in the community affected my worldview in understanding everyday life and what a true community is. The friendly faces, and people who talk to each other not just to be polite but because they care about one another, will stay with me. Learning that getting somewhere is not as important as the conversation and journey to get there.I can’t even put into words how much I will miss my placement and how much the teachers, students, and school mean to me. This has been by far the greatest challenge in my life, and I didn’t even realize how far I came until our final reflection tonight when I talked in front of everyone about lack of feminine hygiene products for young girls. When I first got here I could have never done that. I knew of the injustices, and learned empathy, but this semester I found my voice and the ability to know that some things need to be said even if it might make people feel uncomfortable. We talk about what it means to be an ally and for the first time in my life I feel that I was able to take the knowledge from Mr. Earl, Mr. Alan, Bonnie, Tom, Dr. Tammy, Kim, and the students in my school, and spread awareness of the injustices, shine a light on one tiny part of so many things that are wrong and unjust within our society.

I want others to know that Over-the-Rhine is not a ‘high crime area.’ Over-The-Rhine is filled with more community and love, hardworking people, children, mothers, fathers, human beings. I think in our society people forget we are all human beings. People can’t be defined in one stereotype or one phrase, everyone has a story that you won’t know unless you stop and talk to them. And Over-the-Rhine is a place filled with beautiful people who do just that—they take the time to get to know the stories of those living in their neighborhood.”

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