The Ohio State University at Mansfield

Local teachers meet with US Education Secretary

Several local school teachers met with US Secretary of Education Dr. John King Oct. 13 in Columbus while he was attending the Battelle for Kids conference at The Ohio State University. His focus for the visit was on learning more about teaching in a rural school setting.

Jessica Litzenberg, a fourth grade mathematics teacher at Butler Elementary School in the Clear Fork Valley Local School District, Beth Kohne, who is a second and third grade intervention specialist with the Crestview Local School District, and Ohio State Mansfield Early Childhood Education major Kendall Fout, attended the event.

All are active participants in Ohio State Mansfield’s Math Literacy Initiative, a professional learning community that provides professional development for K-12 teachers. Litzenberg and Kohne have taken graduate courses at Ohio State Mansfield.

"Overall, I thought Secretary King genuinely cared about each of our opinions and really wanted to hear firsthand accounts of what we feel the advantages and disadvantages are teaching in rural education,” Litzenberg said.

Litzenberg took the opportunity to explain to King what the Math Literacy Initiative collaborative brings to rural schools.

“I described how typically at rural schools, professional development may be difficult to organize for reasons such as costs involved or travel time from larger cities where professional development tends to take place,” she said. “Collaboration through local colleges and universities can make a profound impact. I described the collaboration that is happening through the Math Literacy Initiative and how it has given "us" a tangible focus as K-5 educators on math and some new thoughts on the best practices of teaching math.”

Fout graduated from Northmor High School in rural northern Morrow County. She spoke about getting an education at a rural school and her plans after college.

“The meeting with Dr. King was a really amazing experience,” she said. “He seemed very interested in what we had to say about rural education. Getting to speak about my experiences with rural education, as well as hearing the insights and experiences of others was very enlightening.”