SITES exemplifies the effectiveness of well-designed college-community partnerships.
SITES has been an inspiration and a model for more recent programs such as the PHITS program (Philosophy in the Schools), WITS (Writing in the Schools) and several others. The benefit of SITES to the Oberlin schools and its students is undeniable.
Before SITES was introduced, the Oberlin city schools did not offer world languages until high school. Thanks in part to the fact that SITES covered grades K-5, as well as the SITES-inspired introduction of world languages at the middle school level, the Oberlin school International Baccalaureate program. In fact, it was the presence of SITES that initially allowed the Oberlin school district to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) district. Oberlin was the first district in Ohio to have an IB Program grades K-12. (The elementary school language program was recently featured on Channel 19)
Additionally, SITES developed and ran an annual Culture Festival for six years, bringing the college and community together to celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity.
The benefit to the Oberlin college students who work in SITES is also evident. Participation in SITES not only allows Oberlin students to develop their teaching skills (including lesson planning, presentation, and reflection); it also allows them to learn first-hand about the US public school system; to work in the local community; and to acquire important professional skills that include self-presentation, responsibility, teamwork, accountability, and self-confidence.
In addition, the SITES program itself offers students room for growth in leadership. For example, experienced SITES instructors are paired as mentors with less experienced students, and exceptional students are offered the chance to work as Grade Level Coordinators, which is a paid position. It is no coincidence that many former SITES instructors go on to successfully apply for grants and fellowships (Fulbright, Watson, etc.) and education-related graduate studies. The skills they learn through SITES are instrumental to their success as educators post-Oberlin and the breadth of opportunities available to them within the field.