Jennifer N. Stewart

Miami University and the Talawanda District have been partnering for years and, now that the university is hitting its 200-year mark, are looking forward to future projects.

Two years after Miami’s 1809 charter, the board of trustees approved funds to establish Oxford’s first schoolhouse, which cost $310 to build.

In 1821 Oxford Township was divided into 11 different school districts. “School District No. 7” became Oxford’s, opening at 20 E. Collins St. in 1825.

Miami and the Talawanda School District have had an informal partnership for years, said Phil Cagwin, superintendent for the Talawanda School District. The partnership was made formal July 16, 2001, when Cagwin, William Vollmer, former president of the Talawanda Board of Education, and James Garland, former President of Miami, jointly signed the Talawanda/Miami University Partnership Agreement.

The agreement states “The Talawanda School District and Miami University agree to develop a partner relationship that is dedicated to the betterment of both institutions and our shared community.”

“That was significant because it was finally down on paper,” Cagwin said.

There are numerous works of collaboration between Miami and Talawanda. Students in the education department at Miami pursue student teaching opportunities at Talawanda and Miami students volunteer in programs such as America Reads or Adopt a School. Meanwhile Talawanda students can pursue post-secondary options at Miami, said Holly Morrish, coordinator of community development for the Talawanda district.

Miami University faculty and Talawanda faculty meet monthly to plan ways to increase the partnership between Miami and the district.

“We work to develop ways to enhance the educational experience not only for Miami students, but also the Talawanda district,” Morrish said.

In the future, Cagwin hopes to see Miami and Talawanda teachers working for both the districts and the university. Cagwin believes the collaboration possibilities are endless.

“It’s only narrowed down by resources,” Cagwin said, “Time and money.”

The Talawanda district is now in the process of building a new high school, a great opportunity for future community collaboration, according to Morrish.

Miami first-year Windy Johnson agreed, pointing out that current programs that exist between the two schools are beneficial for both Miami and Talawanda students.

“It’s a great way to reach out to your community,” Johnson said. “I think (they’re) a good way to influence kids to do better.”

Reporting by Jennifer N. Stewart