Thursday, June 1, 2006

Melanie Adams: Master of Her Inner Child

Painting, creating with Play-Doh, reading Dr. Seuss, blowing bubbles, and woodworking are some of Melanie's favorite things. For many of us, being able to play all day long would be pure bliss. For Melanie, it is. And she gets paid to do it.

Helping students find their inner child is all in a day's work for Early Childhood Development faculty member Melanie Adams.

"You're only four once. You can't go back," says Melanie. While some schools teach kids specifically for passing tests, Melanie's hope is to teach her students to become confident, strong, creative and respectful providers who can communicate with parents about the importance of letting their kids be three-, four-, and five-year olds.

If you were to walk into her Creative Curriculum class, you might think that this is not a college class at all, but a group of adults just having a good time. On any particular day, you might see students coloring, painting, creating pictures out of construction paper, listening to music, or playing with building blocks. If you stick around long enough, you'll hear the discussion about the learning theories behind this play, and how students use playtime to educate children about science, math, music, and art.

"Art and music allow kids to be truly creative," Melanie says.

"What's important in the class is the process, not the end result," she says. "When you watch young children, they are concerned with how drippy they can get a painting or what color to use."

As adults we often think about the end result and not how we're going to get there. "Young children recognize that it's a process, not the end result that matters," Melanie contends. Since kids learn through play, she uses her classes to help her students understands a child's perspective. "That's why my class is a hands-on, fun and a really important class," says Melanie.

Her students couldn't agree more, and say that the most beneficial elements of Melanie's classes are "the learning differences between product versus process art and learning how to encourage creativity in kids." They also say her classes are "a great mix of learning styles: hands-on, lecture and discussion."

"She is probably the best teacher at Columbus State that I have had. She has wonderful and useful assignments and awesome stories to relate to things," comments one of her students. Another student says, "Her approach to teaching children is always what is best for the children. She is fun and has great ideas."

Much like story time is a bed-time ritual for many kids and their parents, story time in Melanie's class is much anticipated. When she was observed for this year's Distinguished Teacher Award, last year's award winner had to run back to class to see what the clapping and excitement was all about. When she poked her head in the class, all the students excitedly said, "You have to stay! She's going to read a story!" Another went on to comment, "Melanie always introduces us to great children's books."

Through books such as "The Water Hole," "If," and Dr. Seuss' "Sneetches," Melanie connects children's books to life lessons such as freedom, prejudice, thinking outside the box, and sharing.

To work in this field, you "have to be a genuine person." Melanie says three-, four- and five-year-olds can see right through you.

For 22 years, Melanie has worked with young children at the North Broadway Children's Center. During this time, she has learned to really listen and relate to kids with respect and to hear and understand their feelings and emotions. This genuine caring is what she relates to her class of students.

It is this compassion and rapport that earned Melanie one of this year's Distinguished Teaching Awards. "I was thrilled to receive the award," says Melanie. "I believe this is the first time our department has won the award and it says that our teaching methods are as valid as any other department."

The student who nominated her for the award says Melanie makes class "come alive." Melanie gives "wonderful real-life examples" and the students often feel like they are "right in the classroom with her."

Her students say Melanie's views about Early Childhood Education are "what everyone should work to include in their own classrooms."

Another student comments "Melanie is extremely creative, interesting, and definitely has a contagious enthusiasm for her job."

Though she has no children of her own, Melanie has always enjoyed working with them. Growing up she babysat and in college she ended up taking a child development class. Once she began working one-on-one with children, her college professor said she was a "natural" at it. Melanie thought, "This is fun and I can make a career out of it? Now, I have found my place in life."

She went on to earn both her Bachelor of Science in Family Services and a Master of Science in Child Development from Eastern Illinois University.

After working at North Broadway Children's Center for several years, Melanie began conducting community workshops for Action for Children. Her director at the children's center, who was also a faculty member at Columbus State, thought Melanie was good at teaching and told her Columbus State was in need of faculty.

Twelve years ago, Melanie came on board as an adjunct faculty member and has kept coming back. Since September, she has served in a temporary full-time faculty capacity and is finishing up teaching Creative Curriculum, Social Development Curriculum, Observing and Recording, and Cognitive Curriculum for spring quarter.

When not educating her Columbus State or children's center students, Melanie enjoys socializing with the kittens at Cat Welfare, engaging in yoga, gardening, reading, spending time with friends, and traveling. She's also looking forward to her 24th wedding anniversary this summer with husband Bart.


Deadline to purchase goods and services approaching

The last day to purchase goods and services for FY'06 is June 9. All goods and services must be received by June 30 in order to be charged to the FY'06 budget. Invoices for payment and receiving goods should still be processed using the PORC screen in Colleague.

Contact Brad Farmer at ext 2641, Cindy Klimek at ext. 5600, or Debbie Strain at ext. 2443 in the Purchasing Office if you need assistance expediting the delivery of any goods or services.


Bruce Ardinger
Ardinger to say goodbye to college June 6

Everyone is invited to stop by for coffee and cake as the Communications Skills Department bids farewell to its chair Bruce Ardinger on Tuesday, June 6 from 3-5 p.m. in Nestor Hall Seminar Room D. With the college since 1987, Ardinger is retiring effective July1.

For more information, contact Nancy Kephart, associate professor in Communications Skills, at ext. 2534.



Construction Management students earn scholarships

Two of Columbus State's Construction Management students were recently awarded scholarships from the Associated General Contractors of Central Ohio Education Foundation. The AGC of Central Ohio Education Foundation, along with members Shook Construction, Lincoln Construction, Inc., and Baker Concrete Construction assist deserving students with scholarships. The foundation has awarded $61,000 since 2000.

Nikola Labudovski, CSI-S, was awarded the two-year college central Ohio AGC Scholarship, and Ronald Bartrug was awarded the Shook Construction Scholarship.


Retirement income planning seminar coming

The Central Ohio Professional Education Council's Retirement Income Planning workshop on Wednesday, June 7 still has spaces available. The two workshops, 12:30-2 p.m. and 4:30-6 p.m., will take place in Nestor Hall Seminar Room C.

No registration is necessary. There is no charge for the seminar.

For more information contact COPEC at 799-9442.