Deborah Brewer Headshot

WOUB Employee Spotlight: Educational Services Manager Deborah Brewer

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Brewer has led the WOUB Learning Lab since 2017

ATHENS, OH – Growing up in Texas, WOUB Educational Services Manager Deborah Brewer always knew she wanted to be an educator.

“I am one of the few people who decided at age 11 what I wanted to do and did it,” said Brewer. “I attended Texas Tech University, which was one of the few schools that offered deaf education as an undergraduate degree. I taught deaf students in Texas, Minnesota and Ohio.”

Brewer loved what she did, but the demand for a teacher to work with deaf and hard of hearing students changed, and Brewer had to find a new direction for her career.

“There were simply not enough deaf and hard of hearing students in our rural areas to support a teacher,” said Brewer. “I’ve always been interested in technology especially in the education field. So, in 2005 I got my master’s degree in educational technology from Ohio University.”

In 2017, Brewer accepted the educational services manager at WOUB and runs WOUB’s Learning Lab. The Learning Lab empowers teachers, students, parents and caregivers to use 21st century learning tools and media proven to impact student success. It is a go-to resource for high-quality educational advancement support in our region.

The move out of the classroom was quite a transition for Brewer, but she believes in the mission and knows how important it is to connect the communities WOUB serves with the resources PBS has available for learning.

“This was a huge change from working directly with students and teachers, but I feel like so much of what I’ve always done to support students with challenges applies to this position,” said Brewer. “PBS and PBS Kids have a laser focus on serving the underserved. The biggest part of my mission here, as I see it, is to connect our communities with these resources.”

When the COVID 19 pandemic began, WOUB’s Learning Lab became part of a statewide PBS #LearnAtHome Initiative to help teachers, parents and students navigate remote educational instruction. WOUB and other PBS stations across the state of Ohio changed their daily television line ups to help meet the educational needs of all students. WOUB’s Learning Lab also curated additional resources and classroom support materials for teachers and parents that aligned with the new programming.

“We found ourselves going back to the origin of PBS Kids programming and finding ways to provide free resources that were accessible to all families,” said Brewer. “This was so important, but a big challenge. The #LearnAtHome Project provided daily resources to match shows on PBS Kids, as well as programming added to WOUB Classic and WOUB WORLD. This was a collaborative effort among most PBS stations but still individualized to our region.”

The Learning Lab is still providing weekly resource guides on its website over the summer that align with programming while working on several other virtual learning partnerships.

  • As part of the Muskingum County Library Summer Reading Program, the Learning Lab put together a virtual scavenger hunt based on the PBS Kids program Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.
  • The Learning Lab teamed with the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery for a weekly virtual Discovery Lab.
  • Work is underway on a Family and Community Learning Grant project from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to provide a virtual weekly program which will teach inquiry-based learning experiences for families to do with their children.

Brewer has been working from home since March. She ran a half-marathon in Hilton Head, South Carolina right before the pandemic began and is continuing to stay active and exercise while in quarantine. While Brewer understands the importance of social distancing and the need for activities to be virtual right now, she misses the community interaction.

“We love being out in the community doing events, meeting people and sharing all the great resources from PBS. We got a comment one time after a workshop that said ‘This presenter made me like science. I never liked science before.’ I felt like we helped that early childhood provider see her value in educating our youngest learners and that she does have the skills to teach advanced concepts to the young children in her care,” said Brewer. “These kinds of things can truly impact an entire community.”