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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Grant to Help Wheeling Park Students Create Neighborhood Histories

Mon Dec 7 2009

One way of helping high school students succeed in school might be right in their own neighborhood.

That's the philosophy behind a partnership between the Center for Educational Technologies and Wheeling Park High School. The two institutions are teaming up on the Ohio County Neighborhood Mapping Project. Park students will use multimedia and Internet tools to create an online history and interactive map of their Wheeling neighborhood as part of the afterschool program.

The West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network has awarded a $10,000 grant through Ohio County Schools and its Anchor Program to the Center for Educational Technologies to carry out the project during the 2009-2010 school year.

"The Neighborhood Mapping Project is designed to engage students who are having difficulties in school by providing a learning context that is personally meaningful and community focused," said Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the Center for Educational Technologies. "While these students will have access to academic tutoring services through the Anchor afterschool program, the weekly involvement in the community mapping project will give the students a chance to be creative, investigative and reflective regarding what they think others should know about their Wheeling area."

Rosemary Anderson is director of the Ohio County Schools Anchor Program, which works to raise achievement levels and meet the state's adequate yearly progress standards for targeted students at the high school in the coming school year.

"This grant will add an intangible other piece to the puzzle, allowing students to work with Wheeling Jesuit students and teachers to create through technology a history of their communities, reinforcing math, science, technology and language arts," Anderson said. "An added bonus will be an appreciation of college and studies they'll get through the mentoring relationships with the WJU students."

The profile of Ohio County youth provided in the Anchor Program proposal underscores the needs targeted by this afterschool initiative. For example, last year 5 percent of Wheeling Park High School students dropped out of school despite great efforts to help them succeed in school and graduate, Anderson said.

The grant will connect high school students with education students from Wheeling Jesuit for two hours a day, four days a week after school. In addition to presentations by educational technology and graphic design experts at the Center for Educational Technologies, preservice teachers from Wheeling Jesuit will mentor the high school students in science and technology and guide them on their yearlong community mapping project. Students will use video and digital cameras and recorders to interview and record stories from their neighborhoods. They'll use that information to create both a history and geographic look at their neighborhoods. Their work will be posted on the Internet and displayed in an exhibit for parents and community members to view when completed.

Bernie Dolan, principal of Wheeling Park High School, reports that the Neighborhood Mapping Project is just one of several new afterschool initiatives at the school. "Several of Ohio County's outstanding teachers will be overseeing the student activities in the Anchor afterschool program," Dolan said. Participating teachers are Katrina Lewis, Linda Boyd, and Ken Sexton. Kathy Syphers serves as an alternate, assisting with the program as needed.

"We're excited about this opportunity to work with Wheeling Park and provide field-based experiences to our own future teachers on campus and mentoring for high school students at Wheeling Park," said Connie Myer, director of the university's Teacher Professional Development Program.

Oglebay Institute is also a partner in the Anchor Program.

The West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network is part of the West Virginia University Extension Service. The Explorations program grants of up to $10,000 come from the West Virginia University Foundation as a result of a contribution from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.