Otterbein Faculty Leave Legacies of Learning
Otterbein had them for most of their academic career and now they are moving into the next chapter of life – retirement. But don’t think about Lazy Boy recliners or quiet days for these four. Otterbein faculty are just as active and engaged when they leave campus as they were during their academic careers.
MARLENE LANSMAN DERINGER, EDUCATION
Before junior high schools became known as middle schools, Marlene Deringer loved adolescent literature and adolescents. Deringer has been front and center with middle school students and teachers. She has taught middle school, created Otterbein’s middle childhood curriculum, provided countless in-service sessions to middle school teachers, taught and mentored emerging middle grades teachers. She was the Master of Arts in Teaching program director and scholarship coordinator for the Teacher Quality Enhancement grant. She has served as the Education department chair, co-authored national accreditation reports, and co-advised the National Officers of The Collegiate Middle Level Association when Otterbein was the host site.
Deringer is an Otterbein grad (Class of 1969) and majored in English. She taught 7th, 8th, and 9th grade Language Arts in the newly opened Blendon Junior High in Westerville. After teaching at Blendon, she taught methods courses and supervised student teachers at The Ohio State University and Otterbein. She started a pre-school in Celina, Ohio. She returned to Westerville City Schools as a substitute teacher as she raised her family and then came to Otterbein, part-time in 1987 and full-time in 1988. For several years, she advised returning adult education and graduate education students, as well as teaching methods courses and adolescent literature in the Education Department.
About the same time that Deringer returned to Otterbein, the State of Ohio was working towards the middle childhood licensure. Deringer wanted to develop the program at Otterbein because she personally understood the need for teachers to be specifically prepared to teach young adolescents. She developed the middle childhood curriculum while working on her doctorate at The Ohio State University. Derringer received both her master’s (1973) and her doctorate (1998) from The Ohio State University. John Swaim, Professor Emeritus of Middle Childhood Education from the University of Northern Colorado and new to the area, heard about the new Otterbein program, joined Otterbein's faculty and brought considerable passion and vision for middle childhood education. With the support of a school/university partnership grant, Goals 2000, Westerville middle school teachers participated in the first graduate level middle childhood courses in 1995-96.
“It was a big success,” she says. “And for us it was a perfect storm, being able to kick off our Middle Childhood Program at the same time that Westerville was eager to implement the middle school model. Thirty-six teachers from three Westerville middle schools participated in a Summer Institute all about teaming and creating a developmentally responsive school for young adolescents." “It really was a wonderful opportunity to have that kind of impact and then follow up with the teachers. We watched them create action plans at the Summer Institute and present them to their principals and staff. A Leadership Team from each of the three middle schools continued to take our new Middle Childhood courses throughout the year, helping to implement the reforms in their respective middle schools throughout the school year. The following year we were able to provide professional development for all four Westerville middle schools related to middle school philosophy and teaming." The data collected from teachers during this pilot year resulted in Deringer's dissertation as well as the establishment of a Middle Childhood Licensure program at Otterbein, the first undergraduate middle childhood program in Ohio. Diane Ross and Kristin Reninger have since joined the Middle Childhood team at Otterbein, allowing Otterbein to continue to offer undergraduate and graduate (MAT) licensure that has gained national recognition.
In addition to her work with middle school teachers, Deringer initiated the Student Teaching Internship at McCurdy School, a K-12 school affiliated with the United Methodist Church in Northern New Mexico. Deringer has recruited and oriented 39 student teachers at Otterbein since 1995. Dee Dee Krumm Heffner, a friend and fellow Otterbein alum, has taught at McCurdy for almost 40 years, and has served as placement coordinator and on-site supervisor. The current program is not Otterbein's first partnership with McCurdy. In the late 60s, 70s, and early 80s, interested Otterbein students were able to spend one term at McCurdy working on multicultural projects and research papers, participating in Hispanic and Native American cultural events, volunteering in the community, and tutoring students in the school. The Student Teaching Internship continues this tradition of providing a rich multicultural experience for our students.
"This program has been enormously satisfying for me, but more importantly, it has been life-changing for our student teachers. Since I am retiring this year, I am delighted that the program will continue under the leadership of Kristin Reninger, who visited McCurdy last fall when she was on sabbatical."
Otterbein has also provided Deringer with incredible opportunities for research. Over the years, the sabbatical program has allowed her to research integrated curriculum, the use of clickers to enhance classroom discourse in middle schools and high schools, and current trends in adolescent literature. Her most recent research examines "Teachers' Perceptions of Readiness to Teach Young Adolescents, With or Without Middle Childhood Teacher Preparation," focusing on the differences between the licensure/credentialing process in California and Ohio. She is working on a manuscript for publication with her co-researcher from Cal State San Marcos.
As Deringer looks forward to retirement, she won’t really leave Otterbein. She will continue to teach classes on a part-time basis but will have more time to be with her family and grandchildren - some of whom are local and others in New York. For fun, she is converting family movies to DVDs and, of course, reading and traveling.
“I am looking forward to waking up and deciding what to do each day,” she says. “I don’t remember a time when I have had that freedom. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to teach at Otterbein and work with so many dedicated faculty. It has been a privilege!"
JOAN PRYOR-MCCANN, NURSING
“It’s been a fun ride, but I am ready to get off.” Joan Pryor-McCann may be formally retiring from Otterbein this spring, yet with all she has planned, she’s not getting off any ride soon!
She will remain working as a research nurse at Grant Medical Center and will assist them with writing various documents to continue their magnet designation. . She will paint, practice yoga, work with Sigma Theta Tau, volunteer at the German Village gardens, see her three children and five grandchildren, vacation at the North Carolina beaches and do some writing. Pryor-McCann calls travel her ‘passion’. “If I could I would be home only three weeks of the year,” she says laughing.
There will be no moss growing under this rolling stone. Examining place and travel to far lands may be the first post-Otterbein interest of Pryor-McCann.
“I always wanted to write a book about places associated with Florence Nightingale,” she says. In 2010, I stayed at Embley Park (Florence’s home near Romsey, England) and I was struck by the magic of place,” she says. “I am fascinated by the experience of going to a place where a historic person lived or worked, or walked. There is a richness of understanding their work and life through the place. I’d like to figure out how to bring that richness to other people who aren't able to visit the places associated with the person,” she says and adds. “There is fascinating literature on understanding the experience of the person – the sociology of looking at place.”
This work seems a natural fit for Pryor-McCann who has both the academic background and experience to work in a genre of literature about the multi-disciplinary aspects of place. She received her doctorate at Ohio State University in philosophy and has led travel courses to England for over 25 years and taken nurses to Turkey to visit Nightingale sites.
Pryor-McCann was recruited to Otterbein in 1991 by long-time department chair Judy Strayer. She earned her doctorate in 1996. A metaphysical analysis of personal responsibility was the focus of her dissertation. She’s taught various ethics and philosophy coursers as well as nursing courses while at Otterbein. She developed and directed the Clinical Nurse Leader program since 2006. In her nursing practice, she was a medical surgical nurse in the Burn Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Her most recent hands-on nursing was volunteer work at an urgent care facility.
At Grant Hospital, she leads journal clubs and works with a transition to practice national research project which included building an online orientation hybrid for new nurses. The goal of the project is to help reduce nurse turnover. New nurses often leave their positions early because they are unprepared for the pressures of the work or the work wasn’t what they thought it would be. By establishing an online orientation, nurses have a better understanding of what they will be doing in their nursing practice and feel supported in their roles.
Sigma Theta Tau is another of Pryor-McCann’s life activities. “The Kappa Lambda chapter of Sigma Theta Tau has its 25th anniversary this April. I get to kick off the event and I have been thinking about my address to the group. You know, the first time I came to Otterbein was to the charter ceremony of Kappa Lambda– 25 years ago before I ever was a faculty here. . There was no Roush Hall. There was only a dirt parking lot south of Towers Hall. And the old science building was mainly LeMay auditorium. There has been so much change at Otterbein in those 25 years. And the speed of change in the nursing department—just phenomenal!” she adds.
Otterbein has been a good home for Pryor-McCann who enjoys “the academic seriousness of Otterbein and the liberal arts of Otterbein. That’s been a good fit for me. I appreciated being able to teach across disciplines. . I like that my colleagues are always changing and invigorating. I have enjoyed every bit of that,” she says.
“I can tell you I am ready to retire... not lamenting it. No angst, once I decided, it was fun. Sure there are losses, but retiring feels like the right thing and I am ready,” she says noting relationships with other faculty and teaching with other faculty as one loss.
“We have figured it out and we will live a nice life. My last CED (continuing education) presentation while at Otterbein will be on a cruise... Trauma in the Tropics... and I will speak about Florence Nightingale's influence on nursing." . She adds that at the end of May, she will meet her daughter, a faculty member at Belmont University , in Paris and they will visit Normandy and England. Oh, and of course there is a beach trip with the whole family this summer.
Yes, no moss growing here!
PATTY RYAN, EDUCATION
“Get your Irish on” may be something some of us do for one day in March, but for Patty Ryan, Professor in Education, has her Irish “on” 365 days of the year.
Ryan, a 4th generation Irish-American, has been wearing green since the first of March she said when interviewed just two days before St Patrick’s Day. For anyone who has known Patty during her 25 years at Otterbein, her heritage is a large part of her life, as is her family, her students, and her athleticism.
St. Patrick’s Day will find Ryan and her large family sharing breakfast before marching in the Columbus parade. The Irish Family Reunion at Veterans Memorial on West Broad Street will host 40-50 Ryan- Madigan-Liston-Brody family members for an afternoon of socializing, singing, and dancing with several hundred other Irish families and friends at the event sponsored by the Shamrock Club.
Ryan has made several trips to Ireland to visit the homeland. She first visited with her parents several years ago and has since traveled with her brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, and her partner. Ireland holds no known living relatives but she has enjoyed visiting her great grandparents’ farms and villages.
Ryan retires from Otterbein this year after 25 years of developing new teachers, many of whom today are in Columbus Public Schools. Ryan has a long history with Columbus including a sabbatical teaching at Starling Middle School, Learn and Serve programs at Northland High and various tutoring and literacy work across elementary, middle, and high schools.
“Otterbein and Northland High School have a fabulous relationship,” she says. “Five or six of my former students are teaching there.”
Schooling connections loom large through Ryan’s life. Her current work study student and her grandmother graduated from the same high school and Ryan’s grandmother attended the same college where Ryan earned her bachelor’s degree. Ryan earned her A.B. from Ohio Dominican, and her master’s and doctorate from The Ohio State University.
When Ryan began at Otterbein, she worked work with both the Master of Arts in Education and the Master of Arts in Teaching programs. She was the director of both programs for almost a decade and enjoyed her time working with graduate students.
“I enjoy working with all students,” she said. “Undergraduates change so much from Education 1600 to the methods class (Educ 3700). There is a significant change from freshman year to junior year—they grow so much.”
Ryan has several publications and lots of service activities on her vita, but one committee stands out. “Serving on the University’s sabbatical committee was great fun,” she said. “You learn so much from reading the different faculty members’ proposals. Otterbein does a great job making sabbatical opportunities available to all faculty.”
Ryan particularly enjoyed her sabbatical teaching middle school. “When teachers would question what I know about what goes on in the classroom, I had real experience and could talk about a kid jumping out the window or some other example. They would know I knew what was going on.”
It’s no wonder that Ryan worked in teacher education as she grew up in a sports-oriented family and a family of ‘firsts’. Her father, John T “Jack” Ryan was a teacher and a coach. He was the only coach inducted into the Ohio Hall of Fame for three sports – basketball, football, and baseball. Following family tradition of firsts, Ryan was the first female official to referee boys’ varsity basketball in Ohio. She was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Associate Hall of Fame in 1997 for her 25 years of officiating boys and girl’s high school games. She officiated in four sports - field hockey, basketball, softball and volleyball.
Olympic Pools in Clintonville has benefited from Ryan’s coaching abilities for almost two decades and they will benefit again this year as Ryan continues coaching the 8 and under crowd. She will travel to London this September (after swim season) and there’s likely to be a trip to Ireland someplace in her future.
Pi Lambda Theta, a selective national honor society of educators whose mission is to honor outstanding educators and inspire their leadership on critical education issues, will present Patty with their Citation Award at the Pi Lambda Theta Annual Citations Banquet on May 6.
JOHN VOLKMAR, BUSINESS, ACCOUNTING, AND ECONOMICS
As a young Navy Lieutenant, John Volkmar learned cultural lessons that helped drive his passion in his academic work and will carry him far into his retirement.
Volkmar was assigned to a base in Japan where an early contact with the Japanese national workforce was an assignment to plan the annual Christmas party. Full of knowledge from his Leadership & Management training courses, he tried all he knew about facilitating meetings and garnering participation, including both carrots and sticks.
“I can do this. I know how to delegate, create plans of action, and get things done,” he says recounting the story. He asked the Japanese employees questions to stimulate discussion. Nothing. He tried to coax them. Nothing. He told them to brainstorm. Nothing. He challenged them to produce ideas or the party would be cancelled. Ah, yes, good idea, they said. Cancel the annual Christmas party.
Volkmar reported this to his executive officer, who laughed, and told John that is the way meetings are in Japan. Japanese don’t offer ideas individually because Japan is a highly collective society, concerned with group harmony and face. Ideas or solutions are typically developed through a consensual process outside of a meeting and then brought forward for ‘ratification’. That is how John Volkmar, Associate Professor of International Business, developed his curiosity and started learning about how business is done in other countries.
After two decades in the Navy, Volkmar earned a masters and doctorate in International Business Administration at Temple University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in dance design and production at The Ohio State University and went into the Navy to pay off his school loans. He did that and saw the world as well.
Volkmar taught at Gettysburg College before arriving at Otterbein in 2006. Otterbein figured in to the Westerville native’s past, so coming here was a homecoming of sorts. He grew up two blocks from campus and ran around Towers as a kid. He sold pop bottles stolen from fraternities for the refund money, and worked in the cafeteria washing dishes as a teenager. Otterbein’s place in the community is one thing Volkmar values about the University.
“Through all its changes, Otterbein remains a community and that’s really neat,” he says. “On the brick walk between Towers and Roush halls, I see names that are part of the town. Those ties are not going away.”
“I like the International focus we have. I like the 5 cards. There was no international focus to Columbus when I grew up. There were two Chinese restaurants (Jong Mea’s). I remember when Talita's opened on High and Weber near the OSU campus … first Mexican restaurant,” he notes.
“My high school (Westerville High) was really not diverse and now Westerville schools are very diverse. I see the opportunities for global engagement that kids have today and that was one of the motivations to come back and teach here. Otterbein provides that for students who wouldn’t otherwise have an international opportunity.”
The MBA course he teaches - Global Competition and the World Economy -- is a survey course. Each week, the class discusses major topics- trade theories, why the EU, political systems and how they interplay with business, currency rates, Hugo Chavez’s recent death and what that may mean to Venezuela and the world, etc. Otterbein’s MBA program has many students who do not have business degrees and broad survey classes like Volkmar’s add breadth to the student learning.
Teaching International Business courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level led to collaboration with Jeff Lehman and Marge Cornell. These three received a Faculty Development Committee (FDC) grant to create an international Senior Year Experience travel course to Costa Rica. The course covered environmental and sustainability issues which is Lehman’s specialty; Spanish culture and indigenous peoples by Cornell; and trade and economic issues. The three faculty went to Costa Rica for 10 days to develop the course and work with a collaborator of Lehman’s. It was a hit with students.
Volkmar saw international trade expanding during his time in the Navy when he was stationed in Japan, and that country was dominating trade. His visits to Hong Kong, the Indian Ocean, and Taiwan gave him a unique perspective that he brings into the classroom.
Travel features prominently in Volkmar’s retirement plans. He and his wife, Kazuko, will return to Okinawa and Costa Rica, and take a few extended visits to soak up local culture in Europe and other venues. This summer they are off to Vancouver, WA and will go to Okinawa next winter. The Volkmars have three children and eight grandchildren across the US -- Arizona, Washington state, and Massachusetts. Volkmar also plans to get back into a long-neglected hobby -- fly fishing – and he may start tying his own flies again.
LIZ SEIBERT, NURSING
Dr. Liz Seibert leaves an important legacy as she prepares to retire from her position as Director of the Otterbein University/Grant Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia program. Her thirst for knowledge and love of a challenge has benefited patients, students, schools and the profession.
When Seibert speaks to prospective students about sometimes having to make sacrifices and work hard to enter the profession, she is speaking from experience. She was a diploma-prepared RN who entered into a nurse anesthesia career at a time when hospital based certificate programs were the standard.
Seibert was drawn to nurse anesthesia because she loves working with her hands and using her brain.. And after a divorce, “I was a single parent who wanted to provide my daughter with the potential for a college education.”. She was encouraged by a friend and others she worked with in the operating room to pursue nurse anesthesia. She fell in love with the work quickly after beginning her new role.
With each new educational requirement for the profession, Seibert returned to school to earn the required degree. Over her career, she earned an associate degree in nursing (Palm Beach Junior College, 1978), a bachelor of arts degree with a focus in nursing (Ursuline College, 1986), and three other nursing degrees -- bachelor’s degree (University of the State of New York, Regents College, 1989), master’s degree (Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, 1990) and a doctoral degree from the University of South Carolina in 2006. She shares that the sacrifice has been worth it.
“It is very rewarding to help a patient go through what is often a very stressful time in life and to help them have a safe anesthetic experience and wake up comfortably,” she says. “I love the challenge of each case, the physiology, thinking on my feet while adapting to a large amount of data input from several sources, and being able to see the whole picture while you manage your patient.”
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are master’s-prepared advanced practice nurses who administer all types of anesthesia to patients of all ages for all types of surgical and diagnostic procedures. CRNAs perform a physical assessment prior to anesthesia, develop a patient-specific anesthetic plan, provide preoperative patient teaching, prepare the patient and environment for the administration of anesthesia, administer general or regional anesthesia or sedation, monitor the patient’s response to anesthesia and surgery intra-operatively, and safely transfer the patient to the recovery area afterwards. CRNAs may work in a variety of settings and administer anesthesia or pain control for surgery, diagnostic procedures, pain control interventions, and childbirth. After graduation from an accredited nurse anesthesia program, CRNAs must successfully pass a national certification exam before entering practice.
Seibert has been a champion for the nurse anesthesia profession. When changes occurred in the profession and schools began to close in the late 1980s, she made a commitment to help the profession remain viable. She contributed by teaching in nurse anesthesia programs, being a director of programs, helping to start and direct a doctoral program and becoming active at the state and national levels in nurse anesthesia professional organizations. Liz has been able to see her dream of the profession continue to come true.
Loving a challenge, Seibert came to Otterbein to be the first director of our Nurse Anesthesia program in collaboration with Grant Medical Center. Under her tutelage the program has developed solidly and recently accepted its fifth class. She also applauds the first class for being willing to be pioneers and take a chance on a new program. She believes that the Otterbein University and Grant Medical Center collaboration offers the best of both worlds to our students through the hospital-based and academic education.
”I’ve had experience in a lot of different types of nurse anesthesia programs and I think this collaborative program provides the best learning environment,” she says. “Otterbein has a wonderful academic reputation and in combination with Grant Medical Center’s focus on excellent patient care, their philosophies build on each other’s strengths.”
What Seibert has enjoyed about teaching is watching novice students become competent proficient providers of care.” I love seeing students be successful,” she says. She enjoys hearing from graduates say they still hear her standing behind them guiding them with her words when they are on a case.
As she moves into retirement, Seibert plans to enjoy more time with her family and her husband, Dave (who has been a good sport as she changed jobs and moved them around the country). They purchased a condo near their grandchildren and look forward to spending time with them in Cleveland. She also plans to travel, garden, cycle and remain a little active in the nursing profession. Seibert will do some consulting work and assist with the Grant Medical Center Magnet Report.
As she says, “In retirement as in my career, I will enjoy the variety life has to offer.”