Morningside University Sharon Walker School of Education awarded $2.3 million Dept. of Education grant

Funds will develop flexible programming to improve instruction for English learners

Sioux City, Iowa – Morningside University has been selected to receive a $2.3 million grant from the United States Department of Education English Language Acquisition National Professional Development Program. The grant will allow the Morningside University Sharon Walker School of Education to build a program to offer flexible baccalaureate and master’s degree teacher preparation programs with English as a second language (ESL) endorsements and professional development and training opportunities to improve instruction of English learners (ELs) in targeted high EL student population communities across Iowa.

“Iowa’s Latinx population has grown by almost 500% between 1990 and 2017,” said Dr. Alden Stout, associate vice president of academic affairs at Morningside University. “As a regional resource, Morningside wants to be responsive to what our Iowa schools and businesses need. This program will allow us to better prepare educators to meet the needs of K-12 English learners and their families in parts of Iowa where access to flexible professional development and degree endorsement programs are limited.”

                  To accomplish the goals of the grant, Morningside University Dean of the Sharon Walker School of Education Dr. Kelly Chaney and her team will develop Project Connect, which will house the various offerings for educators and create a consortium with seven local education agencies (LEAs) and four area education agencies (AEAs) to ensure the needs of educators are being met. Activities will specifically target areas where a large segment of the population are migrants or refugees working in food production facilities, as well as in rural areas with few than 5,000 students but with a population of ELs over 15%.

                  “This grant is meant to better serve English learners in Iowa by providing educators who are located in more rural areas with greater access to flexible professional development and degree and endorsement programs,” said Chaney. “Morningside has been a leader in the state of Iowa in offering online education options for educators for many years and this is the next phase of that work.”

                  Morningside has a history of success with National Professional Development programs. It received a $1.2 million grant in 2007 that offered the Northwest Area Education Agency the first ESL programming at the graduate level to teachers of language learners. Then in 2012, Morningside was awarded $1.7 million to identify 100 in-service teachers to complete coursework for an Iowa ESL endorsement.

                  “Dr. Stout, Dr. Chaney, and their team have done a phenomenal job of identifying an important need within the Iowa education community and creating a proposal that will serve our state and students well. The work this grant will accomplish will help build a stronger Iowa, and it continues Morningside’s legacy of excellence in education,” said Morningside University President John Reynders.

                  The team who completed the work on the grant proposal included Dr. Alden Stout; Dr. Kelly Chaney; Dr. Tangela Sylvester, assistant professor for undergraduate teacher education; Dr. Kim Christopherson, professor of graduate education; Dr. Carolyn Glackin, assistant professor of undergraduate teacher education; George Holland, program coordinator for MAT programs; and Joan Nielsen, retired associate professor of education.

                  Morningside has been offering education-related programs since it was founded in 1894 and offers a variety of undergraduate education programs including a bachelor’s degree completion program, master’s degree options for those with an existing bachelor’s degree who wish to get an initial teaching license, master’s degree options for current education professionals, Iowa endorsements, and educational strands.