The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has announced a grant award to Morningside College that could provide more than $1.2 million over the next five years for a new program titled “Project Unlimited Proficiency: Improving the Education of Limited English Proficient Children in Northwest Iowa.” The Morningside College Education Department submitted the grant application in consortium with the Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA).
Project Unlimited Proficiency (PUP) will offer in-service teachers the opportunity to prepare for acquiring state certification, or endorsement, for working with English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the Sioux City Community School District and other Northwest AEA school districts. As part of the award, 30 area teachers will receive scholarships that will pay for their tuition and books for the ESL courses.
The first course, “ESL Methods,” will run from Saturday, Sept. 15, through Dec. 1, and will be limited to 30 teachers.
The Morningside Education Department is now receiving applications, available at http://webs.morningside.edu/gradedu/applications.htm. Interested teachers may also call 712-274-5346 and leave a message requesting a brochure with more detailed information about the courses.
Teachers who successfully complete the ESL program will have earned 18 hours of graduate credit, which they may choose to apply towards the requirements for a Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) degree from Morningside.
This federal grant award is part of the National Professional Development Program administered by the DOE Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA). Morningside was one of only three institutions in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota to receive a National Professional Development Program grant in 2007.
Morningside College President John Reynders said, “The receipt of this Federal award exemplifies the benefits of public and private partnerships. It will help to answer a teacher shortage in Iowa through providing much-needed professional development for area teachers and ultimately benefit K-12 students. Morningside College is honored to have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to meet this need in our community.”
“We’re delighted to once again partner with Morningside College,” said SCCSD Superintendent Larry Williams. “The numbers of students we educate who come to us with limited language proficiency has been steadily growing and, moreover, the population tends to turn over somewhat. This poses special challenges for teachers, and this additional training will give teachers improved skills and more confidence. The fact that this is a long-range investment in training is all the more exciting.”
"The Northwest Area Education Agency is extremely pleased to be working with local school districts and Morningside College to bring this educational opportunity to teachers in this area who work with ESL students," said Tim Grieves, chief administrator of the Northwest AEA.
Since 1985, the number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and English Language Learners (ELL) in the state of Iowa has quadrupled, and correspondingly, since at least 1999, the state of Iowa has had a teacher shortage in the K-12 ESL area. These trends are strongly reflected in northwest Iowa, where Sioux City schools have consistently had the greatest number of LEP/ELL students, with 25 languages represented.
The Morningside College Education Department developed Project Unlimited Proficiency in collaboration with the Northwest AEA and Kansas State University (KSU). The program will use KSU’s nationally recognized curriculum, “CLASSIC© ESL/Dual” and has received full accreditation from the Iowa Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education has already awarded the college first-year funding of $230,258 and will award the college an average of $246,000 in funding in each of the next four years, provided federal monies are available and the college fulfills the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) performance measures established for the program.
Joan Nielsen, assistant professor of education, is serving as project director for the program. Nielsen and Cathee Phillips, director of External Relations, served as co-authors of the grant proposal. Tom Green, coordinator of Research and Development for the Northwest AEA, also assisted in the development of the proposal.
Nielsen said, “We are very pleased with the KSU curriculum. It is a high quality program that makes a difference for teachers so that they can make a difference for students.”
Morningside College has educated teachers since its founding in 1894, and the Graduate Program began in the 1960s. The undergraduate program prepares students for teaching careers in elementary, secondary, or special education. The Graduate Program offers a MAT degree with “Professional Educator” or “Special Education” tracks, as well as preparing in-service teachers for endorsements in ESL, reading, middle school, special education, and talented and gifted. More than 500 teachers from across the state of Iowa enroll in Morningside’s graduate courses each year.
The University of Iowa’s College of Education, Teaching, and Learning and William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, also received grants through the National Professional Development Program.