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July 3, 2007

ULM awarded $5.3 million grant to fund TEACH Delta Region

The University of Louisiana at Monroe recently acquired a five-year grant totaling $5,315,894 that will fund TEACH Delta Region - a project that will attract talented and qualified individuals into Louisiana-Mississippi Delta region classrooms. The first-year funding total is $1,680,756.

The U.S. Office of Innovation and Improvement awarded the grant, a collaborative project between ULM and Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.

"We appreciate the support of Senator David Vitter, whose office contacted me to let me know the funding had been approved for the entire five years," said ULM's Beverly Flowers-Gibson, assistant dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Education and Human Development.

"The TEACH Delta Region project ensures that Louisiana's delta region will always have a surplus of talented and properly certified teachers," Vitter said. "This is great news for ULM, and I am anxious to see the results of this program."

The grant was secured by CEHD's Flowers-Gibson; Glenda Holland, associate dean of graduate programs; and Carolyn Jackson, Transition to Teaching project director.

ULM and JSU will partner with 26 local education agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi to offer teachers alternative certification programs in as little as 14 months. Through comprehensive and sustained professional development, induction and mentoring, this project will have a significant impact on the number of highly qualified certified teachers in the Louisiana-Mississippi Delta region, Holland said. Holland projects that the program will recruit at least 350 teacher participants and retain at least 90 percent of them beyond their third year of teaching.

"Current research in the areas of teacher preparation and teacher retention strongly suggests that levels and types of support for teachers during the first three to five years in the classroom are significant indicators of professional growth of the teachers and, as a result, the level of achievement of students in those classrooms," said Flowers-Gibson. "This project is designed to address those needs to improve the quality of teacher preparation and increase the number of teachers who stay in the classroom beyond that time period ­ specifically in the Delta region."

The grant will offer more online courses and ongoing mentoring support. It will also fund laptops at both institutions to provide access to the online opportunities and $5,000 stipends for candidates completing the programs.

"This represents another occasion when the work of our faculty and staff yields incredible prosperity not only to students but to the region itself," said ULM President James Cofer. "Undeniably, producing superior teachers ultimately ensures a brighter future for us all."

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