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Alumna Leads Innovative Columbus School

Alumna Leads Innovative Columbus School

When the pre-K-6 Hubbard Mastery School in Columbus was opened this past year, alumna Susie McGeean ’02 was chosen as principal of the new school (formerly Fifth Avenue Alternative).  A middle childhood major at Otterbein, McGeean began her teaching career in Columbus City Schools. Columbus recognized her leadership potential right away and soon she was on track to become an administrator.  

McGeean welcomed the opportunity to lead Hubbard, because “the challenge in any urban district is that you've got students at all levels; there are huge achievement gaps. Mastery-based learning is all about meeting a child at their level and providing interventions or additional time when needed, but allowing students to move on when they are ready. This enables students to take ownership of their learning and track their progress."

The program at Hubbard Mastery School is designed to help all students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grades master concepts before moving on to new concepts in order to build a strong foundation for learning. This provides individualized instruction so all students can learn at their own pace.

Each student is provided with intervention and enrichment daily. Support personnel provide academic tutoring, high-incidence resource classrooms and English as a Second Language (ESL); community partners provide resources and tutoring to extend learning in reading and math.

In addition to mastery learning, the school focuses on global competencies, critical thinking skills, and project-based learning, which will prepare Hubbard’s students for the 21st century. A unique aspect of the curriculum is that all students take Mandarin Chinese. Students take core subjects, but also have access to vocal and instrumental music, physical education and visual arts.

Hubbard Mastery School provides a safe learning environment where students are expected to be respectful, responsible and empowered to be agents of change in their global community. Hubbard Mastery School is guided by a site-based council—made up of staff, community partners, and parents—which helps to plan upcoming events and makes sure the needs of students are being addressed by the school.

Hubbard has become a field experience site for some of the Otterbein Education Department’s methods classes so that pre-service teachers can get hands-on experience in an innovative urban program as they prepare to be teachers. According to Diane Ross, associate professor of middle childhood education at Otterbein, “It has been a privilege to work with one of our own graduates to place our pre-service teachers in a mastery-learning program where they not only learn best-practice teaching skills, but see school reform in action. Our students can see for themselves the benefits of individualizing learning to promote achievement at all levels.” 

John Swaim, a former Otterbein education professor, said, “You have to fit the system to the kids, not the kids to the system.”  Hubbard Mastery School is a living testament to that philosophy. 


Learn more about majoring in education at Otterbein.

Visit the Hubbard Mastery School's website to see more of their innovative education.