Hamline receives federal grant

$1.5 million has been awarded to Hamline’s School of Education.

Catherine Stolz, News Editor

Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum presented the School of Education with a multi-million dollar grant designed to strengthen Hamline’s English Language Learner (ELL) program on Sept. 19. This grant is in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, created to better educate teachers on the needs of ELL students in the classroom. Hamline will receive more than $300,000 this year, the first in a five year grant period.

“Minnesota’s diverse student population includes many students who speak their native languages at home,” McCollum said. “Investing in education for English language teachers will help prepare all our students to succeed in the 21st century.”

School of Education professors Michelle Benegas and Ann Mabbott wrote the grant in response to new requirements from the State of Minnesota, mandating that all teachers be prepared to work with students learning English. Over the next five years, the grant is aimed to teach 225 teacher-trainers, who will then educate thousands of other inservice teachers, according to Mabbott.

Hamline’s current English as a Second Language (ESL) program licenses more teachers than any other institution in Minnesota, and Benegas and Mabbott plan to use this grant to increase the numbers further. The grant is intended to enforce Minnesota’s Learning for English Academic and Proficiency Act (LEAPS), which according to Mabbott is the most extensive piece of ESL criteria in the country.

Mabbott and Benegas plan on using the grant money to develop a course entitled English Learners in the Main Stream, which is currently required of all students in the School of Education. Funding will also go toward the development of an online course designed to train rural teachers of ESL practices as well.

There was much community support advocating that Hamline receive part of the $22 million given out nationally. McCollum, along with Senator Amy Klobuchar, State Representative Carlos Mariani and State Senator Patricia Torres Ray sent letters asking the Department of Education to award Hamline the grant.

“Receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Education is a testament to the high quality work of faculty in the English Language Learning program here at Hamline University,” President Fayneese Miller said. “The faculty in the program have been on the cutting edge of work in the field for many years and this grant allows them to continue to prepare teachers in Minnesota to do the important and necessary work in this area.”

This grant is in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, who also received federal funding for their ESL program.