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New Christ the Servant Teaching Corps Reflects Catholic Faith and Mission of Service

School News

Walsh University Division of Education, Our Lady of Peace School and the Paul and Carol David Foundation Collaborate on New Teaching Corps Program

The Walsh University Division of Education has partnered with Our Lady of Peace (OLOP) Elementary School in Canton, Ohio, to create the new Christ the Servant Teaching Corps Pilot Program. 

With grant support from the Paul and Carol David Foundation, the new teaching corps program launched in August and is staffed with professionally prepared undergraduate and graduate students in Walsh’s education program. These aspiring educators focus on living out Walsh’s mission and creating an environment that supports the academic, human, spiritual, and service developmental needs of the OLOP students, families, and community.

The mission of the Christ the Servant Teaching Corps is to provide increased access and opportunity for the Catholic education of the underserved and at-risk children and low income families within Stark County. This encompasses the financial assistance for the residential/clinical preparation of quality teachers and educational leaders, principally for children in urban and economically disadvantaged demographic populations, and for Catholic children for whom the tuition model is prohibitive.

“Walsh, Our Lady of Peace and the David Foundation all share the same mission to serve others. I don’t think there is a more intense way, or a more intentional way, to live out that mission than in our school, working with the underserved and the underprivileged,” said OLOP Pastor/Administrator Msgr. Lewis Gaetano. “By having the same graduate and undergraduate students in the school for two years, our teachers are better able to provide the individual attention and academic differentiation to meet the needs of every student in our classroom. Building those classroom relationships is also the key to providing stability and structure for our students in a faith based community.” 

Through educational grants and scholarships, Christ the Servant Teaching Corps prepares a cohort of Catholic school teachers and principals through a comprehensive academic, spiritual, human, and pastoral formational experience the responds to the New Evangelization and Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

The Walsh Division of Education’s overarching purpose is to connect communities.  Walsh students contribute by examining and applying the Judeo-Christian tradition in their developing professional roles, embracing diversity, and practicing and promoting service learning.  Participants bring these philosophies and teaching knowledge to a diverse and underserved population in Canton and in doing so, expand their enthusiasm for teaching.

"The Teaching Corp program allows these principles to be realized through their daily interactions with Our Lady of Peace students, families, and staff,” said Dr. Jeannie Defazio, Chair of the Division of Education.    

The Cohort Pilot program is committed to foster the following:

  • The priority of Kindergarten Readiness and P-5 Learning
  • Professional intern placement and a clinical education experience
  • Co-teaching to improve student learning
  • Sustained clinical experience (year-long)
  • Significant support for teacher mentoring
  • School performance based outcomes
  • Assessment of student learning, growth and development

“The program has been transformational for our students,” said Walsh University Professor of Education Betty Marko. “Our student teachers are learning to work in a diverse environment; where collaboration is critical for student success. They are also able to be role models and mentors for their students in a more personal way because they are getting to know the community that surrounds them. The levels of support that the students at OLOP are able to access is amazing.”

The first cohort of four students began in August and includes three Walsh graduate students in the Licensure in Education for Adults with Degrees (LEAD) Program, Ryan Ross, Melissa Slusni and Matt Bentley, along with Walsh undergraduate education major Rikwon Moore. The program includes three tiers of involvement for both graduate and undergraduate students.  In return for their service, participants in the different levels can receive tuition reduction from Walsh University. The David Foundation is matching 50 percent of tuition costs including fees and books, while OLOP is providing a salary or stipend and professional advising.

Tier I students are full-time teachers working towards their licensure and follow the OLOP academic calendar. Matt Bentley is employed as one of two OLOP fourth grade teachers while Ryan Ross is the schools full-time physical education teacher.

Tier 2 students like Melissa Slusni work in a co-teaching partnership in one classroom; serving approximately 5 hours a day, every day.

Tier 3 students such as Rikwon Moore teach in the classroom for approximately 20 hours a week. Moore, who is currently earning his bachelor’s degree in education as an intervention specialist, is able to work directly with the school’s intervention specialist in addition to his third grade classroom responsibilities.

“I was inspired to go into special education by my little sister who has special needs. I chose education because I enjoy working with children and have a passion to change youth lives,” said Moore. “The opportunity at OLOP has been wonderful. I am working with highly knowledgeable teachers while experiencing a real classroom setting. My experience at OLOP has also helped me to determine what grade I actually want to teach when I graduate. I am very thankful for this opportunity to be in this program.”