Garfield Elementary Students Develop Pen Pal Partnership with Ashland University Students

3/12/12 ASHLAND, OH -- Fourth-grade students at Garfield Elementary School in Medina have developed a Pen Pal partnership with students who are attending Ashland University and the relationship will culminate with the Garfield students visiting the Ashland University campus on March 28.


“A total of 71 students have been exchanging correspondence with Ashland University students since last fall,” said Karen McGinty, principal of Garfield School. “The goal of the program is to expose the students to higher education through the relationships they develop with their Pen Pals and for them to realize that higher education is a viable option for them to pursue.”


McGinty also noted that writing to their Pen Pals reinforces the state of Ohio’s Writing Application Standard, which states “I can write formal and informal letters that follow a letter format, include important information and demonstrate a sense of closure.”


The Pen Pal program has been made possible through a grant obtained from Target in Education. McGinty was the author of the grant proposal. 


To conclude the program this spring, the elementary students will visit Ashland University and tour the campus, meet with the director of the University’s Career Services Center and learn about the possibilities that a college degree can provide, have lunch with their Pen Pal students in Ashland’s award-winning dining area, tour the Rec Center and participate in a classroom activity provided by sport sciences students.


McGinty said that Garfield Elementary has been working with Darnell Woods, who is a Medina graduate and is involved in African American Scholar Leadership on the Ashland University campus. Woods is a junior enrolled in the College of Education and he plans to do his student teaching at Garfield Elementary School.


Woods assisted in matching up the fourth grade students with teacher education students on Ashland University campus early in the school year. The students have written back and forth throughout the school year. 


Dr. Mary Rycik, associate professor of education at Ashland, coordinated the distribution of the letters to the students via classes taught by Dr. James Rycik, professor of education, and Dr. Brandi Noll, assistant professor of education.


Karen Hagans, executive director of the Career Services Center, said she plans to talk with the students regarding the endless possibilities that a college degree can provide them. The children also will have the opportunity to ask questions and even participate in some “mock interviews.” 


Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.

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