Here’s how three of our 2017 Ohio Magazine Excellence in Education honorees are embracing creativity in their classrooms.
To Frank Leibold, professor of hospitality management and culinary arts at Sinclair Community College, there’s nothing so satisfying as the taste and texture of artisan bread fresh from the oven.
“Bread made by a skilled cook needs no peanut butter, jelly or butter to enhance the taste,” he says. “It’s already sheer perfection.”
Leibold, who has taught at the Dayton college for 23 years, developed the baking and pastry arts curriculum four years ago to complement Sinclair’s culinary arts program, which leads to an associate of applied science degree. The American Culinary Federation, the largest professional chefs organization in North America, accredits the program.
“My passion for baking began when I was a child growing up in Dayton,” the former executive chef for The Kroger Co. says. “I had trouble reading and was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. My parents were worried about what my career choices would be, so my uncle offered me an after-school job in his bakery when I was a teen.”
The measuring and kneading skills Leibold mastered there opened up his world, and the puzzle pieces of the printed page fell into place.
“I owe so much to the field,” Leibold says. “And when I can make someone happy and put a smile on their face and be part of a special event in their life … well, it’s addictive.”
Leibold brings that enthusiasm to each of his classes, as he instructs students in the proper techniques of mixing, shaping and sculpting, as well as trends in business management, marketing and cost effectiveness.
“You can create the best looking and best tasting cupcake, but you have to know how to sell it to the public,” he says.
The professor never shies away from spending time after class assisting students in preparing luscious, eye-catching confections for their own family gatherings.
“I want my students to be like Yertle the Turtle,” Leibold says, recalling the Dr. Seuss story about the reptile intent on ascending to new heights. “As the turtle on the bottom, I’m willing to give it all I’ve got to make sure they come out on top.”
Alane Sanders, associate professor of communication at Marietta College, treasures the time she spent as a student ambassador at The Ohio State University. While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree, Sanders gave prospective students tours of the campus and helped forge relationships between OSU and the neighborhoods surrounding it.
“Serving in those roles was the highlight of my college career,” she explains. “I wanted that kind of real-world experience to be available to our students here.”
So in 2016, Sanders spearheaded the creation of Fifth Street Consulting. Named for Marietta College’s address, the student-led, faculty-advised firm specializes in communication and media consulting. Students majoring in fields across the Marietta College curriculum — including finance, English, advertising, broadcasting and organizational communications — apply for acceptance into the practicum and receive credit toward their degree.
“Providing practical experience for students is at the heart of why we’re doing this,” Sanders says. “They have the opportunity to live out the concepts of their field of study and gain a better understanding of how a business works.”
Fifth Street Consulting members spent the spring semester further strengthening a marketing plan for the Washington County Public Library system — of which the city of Marietta is part — to promote the institution’s programs and services. They designed bookmarks and banners with the library’s logo, developed a social media plan targeted toward young patrons, conducted focus-group interviews to assess what the community likes about the library and what it would like to see more of, and offered suggestions on how to improve internal communications among staff members.
Currently, Fifth Street Consulting is helping PioPitch, a campus-based networking organization, publicize its speaker series and connect established and budding entrepreneurs with students, educators and other members of the Mid-Ohio Valley community.
“Students’ eyes light up when they see the difference they are making in our community,” Sanders says. “And the fact our students already have experience in their field impresses the people who are the gatekeepers for their next opportunity — whether it be graduate school or that first job.”
Amanda Curtis is used to the raised-eyebrow response she gets after mentioning the fantasy football league operating out of her Lake Erie College classroom. But, the assistant professor of sport management is quick to explain it’s not just about fun and games.
“We don’t study sport here like it’s entertainment,” Curtis says, “because it’s so much more than that. It’s incredibly influential in our culture. So what better way than just me talking about the management of sport than to show my students what actually happens in a draft? It’s an exercise that clearly demonstrates how fantasy football has completely changed the way football is produced and televised.”
The Edon, Ohio, native was a guard on her high school basketball team and participated in track and field. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical education and English from Albion College in Michigan, an M.S. Ed. in sport science and coaching at the University of Akron, and a Ph.D. in health and sport studies from the University of Iowa.
The daughter and granddaughter of teachers, Curtis always knew she wanted to follow suit. But it was while pursuing her academic education that she came to realize teaching was the ideal way to share one of her most avid interests.
“The fact that we offer two sport-related majors here — sport management, which focuses on the business, and sport studies, which focuses on the culture — makes us pretty unique for a small liberal arts college,” Curtis says. “What excites me most is that I get to teach classes that look at sport from that cultural perspective.”
In addition to the aforementioned fantasy football league, Curtis’ students explore how gender, sexuality, race and nationalism shape their personal experiences with sport, as well as the role the media plays in perpetuating stereotypes.
“We have the perception that sport is awesome, and it is,” Curtis says. “But I want my students to realize there is another side to the coin. I want them to leave here having the knowledge to make informed choices about the ideologies that shape our society — and the future.”