Feature Story

Building a ‘Learning Bridge’

January 4, 2016 – by Billie Paulus ’16

Miranda Anthony (right) provides learning and laughter to Delaware children through her Learning Bridge program. (Photo courtesy of Miranda Anthony ’18)

Ohio Wesleyan Student Creates Program to Connect Homeless Children, Future Teachers

Ohio Wesleyan’s Miranda Anthony ’18, an English major and education minor, has created a program to connect OWU’s future teachers with Delaware children who lack stable housing to encourage the children’s academic success.

“I wanted to enrich these children’s lives holistically,” Anthony says, “by creating a safe environment, both emotionally and physically, for them to do homework and, therefore, succeed in school.”

Anthony created the Learning Bridge afterschool program after becoming involved over the summer with Family Promise of Delaware, a nonprofit organization that works to help homeless families achieve lasting independence. With support from local church congregations throughout Delaware County, Family Promise provides food, shelter, and assistance with obtaining employment and housing.

Anthony’s passion for the children of Family Promise is a direct result of her own life events and the ways she was encouraged by teachers and educators during her childhood. “As a child, I never identified with the word homeless,” Anthony says, “but there was a year to two after my family’s house burned down that I didn’t have stable housing.”

Anthony says neighbors, teachers, and classmates were eager to help, but “it took so much effort just to find a safe place to do homework, and I had so many other things to worry about.”

As a future educator, Anthony wants to help create a safe place for children in this tumultuous time in their lives.

“I don’t want them to look back at this time in their lives and be ashamed of having lived at a homeless shelter,” she says. “I work to ensure that each child will one day regard Family Promise as an old home, a place where they had fun and were safe and learned a lot.”

Anthony’s Learning Bridge tutoring program consists of OWU student-volunteers visiting Family Promise once a week to guide children through assignments, studying, and projects. The volunteers also take time to play with the children and involve them in activities that “foster critical and creative thinking, strengthen motor skills, and enhance emotional and social development.”

And each week, Anthony and her team of volunteers debrief and discuss what could be improved the following week.

Anthony says she became involved with Family Promise through Sally Leber, director of OWU’s Community Service Learning Office.

“Ever since this summer, Delaware has begun to feel like home to me,” says Anthony, who came to OWU from nearby Mansfield, Ohio, “so I don’t feel like I’m serving, I just feel like I’m growing further into the Delaware community.”

For more information on the Learning Bridge program, including volunteer opportunities, contact Anthony at mjanthon@owu.edu.