Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2000

Whitworth Receives Federal Grant to Help Area School Districts
Serve Growing Number of Students with Limited English Skills

In the last three years the rural town of Colville, Wash., has experienced a major influx of Russian and Ukrainian families attracted by the availability of land, the area's similarity to their native country, and the ease of family networking. Each family usually includes eight or nine children who enter Colville's school system speaking little or no English. During the 1999-2000 school year, Colville teachers worked with approximately 35 limited-English-proficient (LEP) students. This fall that number is expected to double, according to Rick Stout, principal of Fort Colville Middle School and coordinator of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

"We have been eagerly seeking training for our teachers and we are desperate for assistance," Stout says.

The need for training and assistance is just as strong in other Educational Service District 101 rural schools and in Spokane's School District 81. A recent $230,396 three-year Department of Education grant awarded to Whitworth College, in partnership with ESD 101 and School District 81, will provide significant training and support to schools striving to meet the educational needs of LEP students.

The Training for All Teachers grant was awarded through the Department of Education's Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs. Of the $230,396 grant, 96 percent was funded with federal funds and 4 percent came from non-government sources.

Currently, a limited number of ESL facilitators provide support and training for targeted areas in School District 81 and for outlying rural areas in ESD101. These facilitators have struggled to keep up with the demand for their services as the number of LEP students has steadily grown.

Whitworth offers an ESL program that trains teacher-education candidates for the state endorsement to teach ESL. But most students are not able to add this separate endorsement to their programs, according to Dennis Sterner, grant project director and dean of the School of Education.

The Training for All Teachers program will enable Whitworth to integrate ESL training into its core teacher-training program, so all of its graduates will be able to address the needs of LEP students in Spokane and the surrounding area.

"In many districts, limited English speakers are mainstreamed into the regular classroom, so all teachers need to be prepared to work with those children," Sterner says. "This grant will train Whitworth professors to integrate ESL strategies into teacher-education courses across our curriculum, which will prepare all of our graduates to teach the students in their classrooms who have limited English proficiency."

In addition, the grant will support the creation of a train-the-trainers model for Spokane District 81 and Mead District 354 teachers, so that by the third year of the grant, 50 ESL consultants who are classroom teachers, three administrators, and seven staff who work with students with special needs will be trained to support other teachers who serve LEP students. The grant will also provide support for ESD 101 rural teachers through on-site training for 18 districts and through the development of the Whitworth Summer ESL Institute to train 45 teachers during two summers. Beginning in the summer of 2002, participating teachers will attend an intensive week-long series of courses designed to improve their skills for working with LEP students.

"Over time, teachers may opt to apply these courses to the 16 credits necessary for an ESL endorsement in Washington state," Sterner says. "The institute will serve as a model for future summer professional development opportunities on the Whitworth College campus."

Contacts:

Dennis Sterner, grant project director and dean of the School of Education, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4411 or dsterner@whitworth.edu.

Lynn Noland, director of sponsored programs, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3701 or lnoland@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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