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School of Education Putting New Grants to Work

The Whitworth School of Education recently received two grants that faculty members are putting to work to strengthen education programs in public schools locally and throughout Washington state.

Literacy Grant:

School of Education faculty members Lisa Laurier and Lori Johnson received a $24,950 grant from the Hagan Foundation for the literacy work they are doing at Holmes and Evergreen elementary schools, in Spokane. Whitworth holds its undergraduate and master in teaching literacy-education classes at these schools rather than on the Whitworth campus. This residency model gives Whitworth students the opportunity to spend more hours in a classroom with a master teacher, and Whitworth School of Education faculty members provide professional development sessions for the elementary-school staffs.

Gifted Education Grant:

In her role as Whitworth’s Margo Long Chair in Gifted Education, Jann Leppien provides collaborative support to school districts as they implement research-based practices in developing Highly Capable Programs for students. Leppien and two colleagues from the University of Washington received a $32,000 award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. The award is supporting the trio as they develop online training modules and related media and materials that address the key elements of highly effective gifted education instruction and assessment.

According to Leppien, of the one-million students in public schools in Washington state, 1.9 percent were identified as gifted and talented for the 2014-15 school year. Most of these students receive services in general education classrooms whose teachers have little or no opportunity for training or experience in gifted education. The grant will address this lack by providing educators throughout Washington state with training and materials related to program development, identification, model and services, and strategies to meet the academic and social/emotional needs of gifted students in the classroom.

The tentative timeline for the implementation of the learning modules is fall 2016. Pilot districts and several Educational Service Districts selected to represent the diversity of K-12 school settings have agreed to test the modules and provide feedback. Leppien and her colleagues plan to eventually provide access to the modules to all school districts in Washington state.