New Laboratory School Provides Expanded Services to Community

Walsh University and Our Lady of Peace (OLOP) Catholic School have collaborated to launch a new laboratory school dedicated towards advancing service to the underserved and creating opportunities for interdisciplinary experiences in service learning, clinical research and internships. The Walsh University Impact School at Our Lady of Peace reflects the longtime partnership between the two schools and provides real-world learning experiences for not only education majors, but also other university majors including Occupational Therapy and Nursing.

Collaborative Impact School Provides Expanded Services to CommunityWalsh will now have two separate initiatives with OLOP. The Christ the Servant Teaching Corps (CTSTC) will remain a specific educator preparation program that offers scholarships to qualified candidates. The Impact School partnership provides teaching and learning opportunities for other education students and majors throughout the university. Both programs will provide expanded services to families of the local Canton community.

This fall, multiple groups of Walsh students and faculty members are involved in clinical experiences or internships at OLOP including Walsh education majors completing student-teaching requirements with the Christ the Servant Teaching Corps (CTSTC). In addition, Occupational Therapy majors engaged in clinical fieldwork directly related to elementary-aged children, and Walsh nursing students conducting specialized COVID prevention/care clinical experiences.

“Our CTSTC interns have a wonderful opportunity to experience the many facets of diversity at Our Lady of Peace,” said Betty Marko, Ed.S., Walsh Christ the Servant Teaching Corps Liaison. “Further, they see firsthand the interdisciplinary delivery of related services (e.g., OT and Nursing) to support students’ needs.”

The Walsh Impact School is led by Co-Directors Jean DeFazio, Ph.D., Walsh Chair of the Division of Education and Msgr. Lewis F. Gaetano, D.Min., Pastor of Christ the Servant Parish along with Betty Marko, Ed.S., CTSTC on-site coordinator.

The new school will also further opportunities to conduct research in a working school environment where child educators, university students, and faculty researchers will collaborate to explore solutions to social justice issues for church, family and the underserved.

“This exciting new initiative is a testament to the longtime partnership we have developed with Our Lady of Peace School,” said Dr. DeFazio. “The Impact School will provide a practical daily experience for our students with space to question, discuss and apply evidence-based practices. We will be able to ask research questions and collaborate with OLOP staff to investigate those questions, provide a safe place to deliver service-based projects and offer various forms of experiential learning. Because Walsh and OLOP have a shared Catholic mission, this lab school will provide a relevant community-based learning space for the entire university. This goes beyond the original partnership we first established years ago.”

The Walsh cohort of faculty and education majors will continue to support initiatives already underway at OLOP in areas of technology, reading, math and science while simultaneously working to develop and implement additional after school and summer enrichment activities beneficial to the OLOP community.

“The evolution that has occurred between OLOP and Walsh is an absolutely amazing phenomenon. Our relationship is a genuine renewal,” said Msgr. Lewis Gaetano. “Together I believe we have established a new model for our respective schools, respecting the heritage of our mutual Catholic traditions, yet expanding the boundaries inclusive of all God’s Beloved.”