As early as 2006, various Ohio IAIE members were having collaborative conversations and finding ways to get together to support each other in the development of IE projects and activities for K-12 teachers and college students. There was a definite feeling that we were a community of learners and we continued to talk about having a name. All agreed that we wanted a way to officially name and acknowledge our work and relate it to the Alliance. Someone mentioned that perhaps we could call ourselves a chapter.
That same year, the vision for the development of state chapters for the International Alliance for Invitational Education took roots at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. Dr. Vicki Wilson, Chair of the Education Department, encouraged by the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Paul Reichardt, drafted a letter to the IAIE Trustees, asking permission to experiment with the concept of state chapters. The trustees granted us a two year pilot status to experiment with the concept and allowed us to call ourselves the Ohio IE Chapter. They set the requirement that we report our progress to the trustees at their annual conference meeting.
The rest is history as the first meeting of the Ohio Chapter was May 25, 2007. Through 10 years, two major entities, Muskingum College and Park Street Intermediate have collaboratively supported the Ohio Chapter. Muskingum has consistently provided leadership and some minor funding for the chapter events, and Park Street Intermediate School in the South Western School District in Grove City, Ohio, located near Columbus, Ohio has provided meeting space and involved its classrooms and encouraged its teachers to participate in the development of the pilot chapter. Park Street is a 2006 Inviting School Award recipient and Muskingum College is a 2008 Inviting School Award recipient.
The chapter members agreed to meet quarterly to extend our own knowledge of IE and to create opportunities for others to learn about it. Beyond consistent partnering of Muskingum and Park Street Intermediate was the encouragement, support, and nurturing of Sue Bowen, first IAIE Executive Director who lives in the Columbus area.
Our earliest outreach to others included classroom exchanges for teachers to visit classrooms where teachers were implementing IE strategies, a one day workshop for local teachers, and a one day training with an IE consultant. Having successfully completed these smaller projects, we reached a point where we felt ready to work on a large project and so decided to submit to Trustees at the 2008 conference a request to host the 2010 World Conference in Columbus, Ohio. They granted the request, and the work of sponsoring the conference began. For two years, our local committee of 12-15 members worked tirelessly to prepare for the event.
The conference was a huge success, realizing a handsome profit for the Alliance and solidifying our commitment as a collaborative group. In January of 2011, the trustees granted us permanent status as a chapter. Working together solidified the commitment and passion of partners to continue the journey and we have continued our work. Park Street Intermediate took its work to the next level and has built a strong exchange program with Hong Kong Schools, both hosting and visiting. They have conducted book studies with their teachers and are beginning to work on the development of podcasts on IE.
Muskingum has reached out to its students, both graduate and undergraduate, integrating IE tenets and fundamentals into its coursework. They have successfully created a popular graduate course which merges the tenets of IE and the essential elements of inclusion for special needs students. Research was conducted into the attitudes of practicing teachers who had completed the integrated course and the results written and published in the JITP.
Park Street participated in a project where Muskingum received a research award to examine the growth and trends of the development of IE in Park Street Intermediate. The study was conducted and the results shared at the annual conference with the results also being submitted and published as an article in the JITP. An
interesting feature of the research and one we are proud of is that the mindset of being inviting has transcended different leadership at the building level.
Muskingum has provided graduate credit for professional development projects in IE and helped to develop and encourage book studies using the fundamentals book. We continue to meet quarterly and set goals for podcasts, creating our own website, and encouraging the development of IE in other schools. Another effort we have made is to do presentations at various educational conferences to spread the message of IE.
We have assisted in the development of evaluation forms for the visitations to Inviting Schools, the development of the Welcoming Schools concept, Regional Leader process, and the development of chapters.