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Two Men Among UC Elementary Teaching Honorees

For the first time, men are honored with a generous University of Cincinnati award that recognizes the high standards of a future primary teacher.

Date: 7/24/2006
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Andrew Higley
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2006 recipients
Left to right: Lauren Stovall, Andrew Schneider and Kevin Hardy

“Sensitive, loving and understanding of little children” – a UC alumna set the standards for an award to recognize the excellence of a primary teacher. Now, for the first time since the award was established in 1999, two men are among the three University of Cincinnati senior early childhood education majors who will receive $15,000 each from the Pearl M. Wright Award to pay for tuition and other education-related expenses that may include housing and living expenses. The 2006 Pearl M. Wright Award recipients honored by UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) are Kevin Hardy of Dayton, Ohio, Andrew Schneider of Madeira and Lauren Stovall of Hilliard, a Columbus, Ohio suburb.

They represent a senior class of nine men and 57 women who plan to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in spring, 2007. The UC graduating class of 2008 has only four men in early childhood education, as well as 73 women.

Carol Livingston, assistant dean for CECH, says the three honorees were selected from a total of 19 students who had applied for consideration. To be selected, the students must demonstrate academic excellence as well as have a record of service in caring for and educating young children.

Here’s a brief bio on each of the three recipients:

Kevin Hardy

Kevin Hardy, Dayton, Ohio
– The 28-year-old transfer student says he was first attracted to UC thanks to an offer from his sister, Amy Finch. The offer: Move to Cincinnati, stay with her and her family, save on rent and attend college full-time. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I was in Dayton, working full-time and going to school part-time and it was frustrating not to see the end of the tunnel.”

He was interested in marketing, but that all changed when he picked up a part-time job at the UC Child Care Center, Inc., which serves children aged three months to five years. He says he discovered that working with young children was very rewarding, and after trying out a few UC classes in early childhood education, he was hooked. “It’s so rewarding to see how they develop and grow – to see that light bulb go off,” he says.

“Kevin has mentioned to me that he came to the discipline of early childhood education ‘through the back door,’ starting his college career in business and then finding his niche after taking a part-time job as a teacher assistant at UC Child Care Center. Frankly, it has been my experience that some of the most outstanding teachers have come to education through that same back door, choosing to become teachers because they have learned through experience that teaching is what they really want to do,”  says Ellen Lynch, UC associate professor of early childhood education. “Kevin understands that teaching is not a job; it’s his chosen profession.”

“Kevin has consistently displayed a nurturing, professional and cooperative relationship with the children, parents and staff of the UC Child Care Center,” says Kelly Bigham, program director for the center. “His knowledge, integrity and love for the field is unmatched by many.”

Hardy plans to continue working part-time at UC Child Care Center once fall quarter gets underway. Over the summer, he’s working part-time for the Cincinnati Opera as well as a working as a substitute manager for the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Center.

He says the $15,000 Pearl M. Wright Award will enable him to work less and concentrate more on his teaching internship that begins in August, before UC’s fall quarter, at Fairview Elementary.

As for being among the relatively small number of males taking classes to prepare for a female-dominated profession, he says, “It’s not as odd as I thought it would be – there are eight other guys in our particular cohort. I hope it starts to catch on, that men can see this is something that’s very rewarding, and it can have an impact on their lives.”

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider, Madeira, Ohio
– The oldest of seven children, the 21-year-old early childhood education major has honed his teaching skills by assisting his parents (both of whom attended UC) with home schooling his younger siblings, tutoring them in math, literature and music. He recalls only two male teachers during his early years in school – the gym teacher and the music teacher. Schneider says that in considering a career, he thought that reaching children during their earliest years would be the most rewarding, and says he learns as much from children as they do from him.

“The way that they look at the world, everything is novel and exciting to them,” he says. “They have an innocent curiosity and desire to learn that tends to disappear as we get older.”  He adds that his decision to go into teaching was inspired in part by his Madeira High School algebra teacher, Matt Freeman, “who taught me that any subject can be fun to learn,” and by English teacher Bob Larbes. “He truly inspired me to seek knowledge and always look at things in different ways. I hope to have the same impact on the children that I teach as they had on me.”

Schneider says the $15,000 Pearl M. Wright Award will enable him to work fewer hours so that he can concentrate on his classes and his teaching internship this fall at Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment.

Darwin Henderson, UC associate professor of education, calls Schneider a “gifted individual,” recalling that during a course taught by Henderson, “Andrew exceeded expectations in every assignment.”

Schneider’s dedication to children includes utilizing children’s literature to teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders about conflict resolution – part of  his volunteer service with the “Peace Pals” program coordinated by the UC Urban Center for Peace Education and Research.

Lauren Stovall

Lauren Stovall, Hilliard, Ohio
– The 22-year-old senior majoring in early childhood education is a graduate of Hilliard Davidson High School just outside Columbus. From a very young age, she says she was drawn to caring for young children. A UC psychology service-learning course led to work as a school-based mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters at Maud Booth Academy, a charter school that provides support for children from Cincinnati’s low-income neighborhoods. She says that experience solidified her decision to major in early childhood education.

“Lauren’s strong sense of responsibility and dedication to the classroom is reflected in her willingness to go beyond expectations,” says Mef Diesel, an early childhood education specialist at the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center at UC, where Stovall earned her practical experience in a preschool classroom over winter quarter. “Lauren has exhibited her commitment to the teaching profession through her ability to attend to the needs of the classroom as a whole and to individual children. I believe Lauren to be a dedicated learner with great potential as an outstanding member of the teaching profession,” Diesel says.

“Lauren is bright, mature and dependable and works well with her peers in and out of class,” adds CECH graduate assistant Emily Gibbons Pradhan, who taught two courses toward Stovall’s degree. “Lauren is certainly an asset to our program.”

During the summer months, Stovall is working as an assistant at the Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in Loveland. The school serves children ranging in age from six weeks to six years old. She will begin her teaching internship at North College Hill Elementary School in the fall.

Stovall adds that because her parents have supported her tuition through UC, the $15,000 Pearl M. Wright Award will ease their financial strain of paying tuition for her and her 19-year-old sister, Kristin, who’s attending the University of Akron.

The University of Cincinnati Pearl M. Wright Award comes from a $680,000 endowment established by Kathryn E. Wright, named in memory of her sister. Both women graduated from UC in the 1920s and dedicated their careers to educating young children.

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