Tim Dove

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

How do we teach our children to develop an understanding of who they are and how their relationship with the world impacts where they live? Tim Dove, the Ohio Department of Education's 2011 Teacher of the Year, is on a mission to help local kids develop a global perspective.

Dove is completing his 30th year in education and currently teaches social studies at Phoenix Middle School in the Worthington City Schools system. Four years ago, he and a team of teachers created this unique program for about 170 seventh- and eighth-graders who obtain entry through a lottery system. The curriculum there sounds like an educator's (and a parent's) dream: mastery-based education and special emphases on wellness, nutrition, reading and the fine arts.

"Instead of a student council, we also have direct democracy like the ancient Greeks," Dove said. "It's all very holistic."

He added, "I'm lucky to have a job, career and vocation that is all wrapped up into one role."

Dove, 52, was raised in a family that moved and traveled often, though he spent most of his youth in Cincinnati. His father, Mark, now retired, is a Methodist minister and his mother, Jenelle, a speech and hearing teacher. His parents required all three of their children, prior to graduating from high school, to go live in a culture where they would, Dove explained, experience what it's like to "not be a part of the dominant culture."

Dove lived in Paraguay as part of a high-school foreign-exchange program, while his younger sister, Shelley, lived in Sri Lanka, Nepal and India, and his younger brother, Todd, chose Japan. Dove said the experience shaped how he sees the world.

"We grew up with expectations to learn about civil rights, social justice and global perspectives, and how we can relate them to our everyday life," said Dove.

Dove's parents also made sure their children were exposed to situations that challenged them to use these teachings.

"We always had guests in the house," Dove added, "exchange students, people traveling to do mission work, from different parts of the United States or around the world."

Dove said he tries to inspire his students and his own children to approach life with passion and perspective. With his wife, Lisa, he has two children - Kathryn, now 25 and an educator herself, and Robert, 20, who is studying to be a jazz musician.

One of Dove's favorite teaching tools is to take students on a week-long "Snapshot Tour" abroad every year. The students learn how to navigate a new country just long enough to get a taste for that particular culture - and figure out if they want to learn more. Of course all of this comes after they have figured out how to raise the funds they need to get there, Dove said.

Dove also challenges parents to provide local opportunities to build global perspective from right here in Central Ohio.

"Take your kids to the many festivals offered by different nationalities," Dove said. "Sponsor a foreign-exchange student, visit our nationally acclaimed Columbus Metropolitan Library, or visit a regional city, like Chicago, and experience how they represent the impact of different cultures."

Dove also encourages parents to challenge their kids when they travel.

"Take advantage of traveling and provide your kids with an opportunity to learn how to be a savvy traveler, one who knows how to get around, find a place to eat and meet new people," he said.

As children learn to build strong relationships and develop an enduring moral and ethical code, their ability to advance their awareness of world cultures provides a solid foundation for future success and achievement in an evolving world economy, Dove said.

"Kids can learn how they fit into this world by understanding how to not be judgmental of other cultures," he said, "making sense of why others do what they do and why it works for them."

For more information about the Phoenix Middle School where Dove teaches, visit their website at phoenixms.org.