Dr. Matthew Ohlson, interim director of the Taylor Leadership Institute and assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida, has been selected as a recipient of the 2019 College Ready Florida Innovator Award by the Florida College Access Network.
This award for innovation recognizes those trying new approaches to help students get into and pay for college while inspiring younger students to plan for their futures. The award winners were nominated by their peers and selected through a competitive process.
The 2019 honorees reflect the creative practices that result in strong student outcomes. Ohlson, a St. Augustine resident, was one of only 10 recipients from across the state to receive the inaugural award and was recognized today during the 2019 FCAN Summit in Orlando.
“Whether it’s virtual mentoring for rural students, leveraging peer-to-peer influencers or building a college-going culture in middle school, these leaders are willing to test new strategies that engage students in their future,” said Kathy McDonald, FCAN assistant director for network partnerships.
Ohlson, who has been teaching at UNF since 2015, received the award, in collaboration with the UNF Taylor Leadership Institute and the Department of Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management, for work with a program he developed and oversees called C.A.M.P. Osprey, an innovative leadership mentoring program that pairs UNF student leaders with fifth through ninth graders from Duval, Clay, Flagler and Putnam counties.
The innovative component that separates this program from other mentoring programs is the leadership development work that is embedded within each activity, which is aligned with the principles of Franklin Covey’s “7 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Research shows that C.A.M.P. Osprey apprentices are more likely to attend college when they participate in a college campus tour. To date, over 500 students have visited the UNF campus through the mentorship program alone. Students in the program have also participated in University sporting events, faculty meet and greets and more. Resources from the UNF Taylor Leadership Institute also provide these prospective students with valuable college and career readiness training such as goal-setting, time management and team work.
Ohlson’s K-12 educational experience includes roles as a 15-year teacher and school leader in Boston Public Schools and the Florida Virtual School. In higher education, he has served as a clinical instructor at the University of Florida, where he also served as a leadership facilitator at the Lastinger Center for Learning.
He recently served as a leadership consultant with the Florida Department of Education, training educators and leaders throughout the state as they transition to the new curriculum standards. Additionally, Ohlson has conducted comprehensive program evaluation for state agencies and helped to develop the new Florida Education Leadership Exam.
Florida College Access Network is Florida’s first collaborative network committed to ensuring all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve an education beyond high school and prosper in Florida’s economy. Its mission is to create as well as sustain a statewide network that catalyzes and supports communities to increase college/career preparation, access and completion for all Florida students.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.