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July 23, 2007

ACE's Adventures to benefit community children; his new book hits schools this fall

ACE, the new mascot at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is not quite one year old, and he's already discovered a way to reach out to the children in his community. With the help of a few ULM faculty and staff, ACE is teaching children about biology, conservation, music, art and more in his first book "ACE's Adventures at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. ACE Explores Campus."

The 20-page activity book, geared toward Pre K - 2nd graders, will be distributed this fall - at no cost - to private and public elementary schools in 15 northeastern Louisiana parishes. The book is the first in a series of free activity books that contain age-appropriate activities aligned with state standards and is supported by a Web site that includes lesson plans for teachers and innovative online activities for students. The series is produced by the ACE's Adventures Committee, a group composed of ULM faculty and staff.

The initiative, which professors have coined, "For Our Schools, For Our Children," captures the very essence behind education, said Mike Beutner, associate professor, curriculum and instruction. "We believe that ACE will be accepted by thousands of children as a friend who loves the environment and all kinds of learning. As educators, we want to build on these positive qualities and encourage an attitude to 'yearn to learn,' the qualities that ACE exemplifies."

Beutner developed the Web site where children will read the book, play interactive games, and listen to stories about the red-shouldered hawk and its beautiful habitat in northeastern Louisiana. Yet another interactive feature is ACE's future e-mail address,, to which children will be able to write to ACE and ask him questions about biology and more.

The accompanying lesson plans, which integrate several subjects, enable teachers to choose the materials based on the needs and talents of their students. This creates endless possibilities in the classroom, said, Ava Pugh, professor, curriculum and instruction. It was Pugh's students at ULM who developed the lesson plans.

"The lesson plans incorporate so many areas of the curriculum: reading, literacy, math, science, social studies, art and music. Teachers can use these plans for motivation, remediation, enrichment, or to extend a concept taught in the school's curriculum."

While the book and accompanying tools will definitely be fun for the children, it also answers an important need, said Gary Stringer, curriculum and instruction department head. "There is often a lack of curricular material that meets educational standards and is fun and exciting to students. I believe 'ACE's Adventures' is unique in that it provides sound educational instruction yet is entertaining to lower elementary children."

On Aug. 3 at ULM, ACE's Adventures committee members will meet with curriculum coordinators to discuss the most efficient way to distribute the books to the schools. At that meeting, coordinators will learn more about the educational resources, and they will be encouraged to invite ACE and ULM's live mascot, Warhawk I, into the schools for additional interactive learning. After the launch of the activity book this fall, the committee will begin to discuss future issues that will target older students.

The educational possibilities within the greater community are not lost on ULM President James Cofer. In fact, the project first began as a simple coloring book, but Cofer suggested ULM staff members utilize the talents of professors from departments such as curriculum and instruction. "I am extremely proud of our faculty and staff who have poured several hours into this initiative. Their expertise in education is an important resource, and the community will benefit greatly."

Additional committee members include: Peggy Buffington, family and consumer sciences; Karina Craighead, Athletics; Virginia Eaton, DREAM; Laura Harris, university relations; Peggy Jelks, curriculum and instruction; Cindy Leath, university development; Amy Ouchley, (retired) biology; Eric Pani, academic affairs; Beth Ricks, curriculum and instruction; Gary Stringer, curriculum and instruction; Jerrilene Washington, curriculum and instruction; Amy Weems, student life and leadership; Emily Williamson, Child Development Center.

The committee wishes to recognize Barry Weathersby, custodial services. Weathersby contributed art to the book. Other contributors include Richard Lupo, University Relations, Rob Glaze, University Relations, Rhonda Neal, and Christi Bailey, Graphic Services.

For additional information about this educational resource, visit the Web site after Aug. 3.

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