ST. LOUIS, May 2, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition today announced that it has awarded Webster University a five-year, $1.9 million National Professional Development Grant. This is the largest federal grant that Webster has ever received.
The grant will fund “The Culturally Responsive Instruction for English Learners Project,” through which Webster University’s Kansas City metro campus will partner with Kansas City Missouri School District to provide teachers in six of the District’s elementary and high schools with the coursework necessary to earn certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL. The project will support academic achievement among English Language Learners, who represent between 40 percent and 85 percent of students in schools across the District.
“The awarding of this important grant coincides with the 40th anniversary of Webster’s Kansas City metro campus,” said Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “During that time, thousands of teachers in the Kansas City area have earned their degrees at Webster. Since the beginning, the hallmarks of our teacher training programs have included collaboration with colleagues, students, families and communities, and respect for diversity through responsive teaching and learning that values differences. That’s why I’m confident that through The Culturally Responsive Instruction for English Learners Project, Webster and our partner institutions will make a significant impact on the quality of life for English Language Learners in the Kansas City community.”
“Partnerships like this one are a key facet of Webster University,” said Julian Schuster, provost and senior vice president. “Webster’s mission to respond to unmet educational needs – such as the need to support academic achievement among Kansas City’s English Language Learners that this grant and partnership will fulfill – is rooted in our beginnings, when in 1915 the Sisters of Loretto opened one of the first Catholic women’s colleges west of the Mississippi. Their tradition of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to inclusion continues to inspire and propel our mission forward to identify and respond in new ways to the unmet needs of individuals. We do this by remaining committed to the highest-quality learning experiences.”
Webster University is the lead institution of higher education for this project. The project is intended to provide professional development to each member of the educational team – principals, teachers, paraprofessionals and parents – to support student achievement and strengthen community relationships. Additional project partners include Pearson Education Inc., which will provide targeted professional development; LIFT-Missouri, which will develop and deliver parent training workshops; and Center of Effort LLC, which will serve as project evaluators.
According to Brenda Fyfe, dean of Webster’s School of Education, the collaboration among Webster University, the Kansas City Public Schools and LIFT-Missouri made the grant proposal particularly strong. “Through this grant,” she said, “we plan to develop a national model of professional development that addresses not only teachers and students, but families and the community as well.”
The project’s co-directors are Dr. Gayle Bradshaw, coordinator for education programs at Webster’s Kansas City metro campus, and Dr. Alicia Miguel, executive director of language services for the Kansas City Missouri School District.