The College of Education at Pitt State received a $539,281 grant from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. The grant will be used to provide scholarships, mentoring, and laptops to 25 current teachers across Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas who are either Hispanic themselves or teach in a district that has a specific population of Hispanic students.
The College of Education is home to the health, human performance and recreation, psychology and counseling, and teaching and leadership departments. There are more than 1500 majors offered at Pittsburg State within those departments.
Per the university website, “The mission of the College of Education is to prepare competent, committed, caring professionals, provide services to the various communities of which we are a part, and expand the body of knowledge through research and dissemination activities.”
Assistant professor at Pitt State Michelle Hudiburg wrote the grant along with Assistant professor Liz Mascher.
“… It’s a grant set up to award 25 currently practicing teachers who are either Hispanic or who work in one of 22 identified districts that have a certain population of Hispanic students to get a master’s degree in educational technology with a full library media emphasis,” Hudiburg said.
A needs assessment was given out to a few districts in the area.
“We sent out a needs assessment to see if local districts thought that working with the Hispanic students and their families for information literacy and library services was something, they thought was relevant or needed in our community and around the area,” Hudiburg said.
The assessment results show that 90 percent of the districts that responded felt that the information needs of Hispanic students in those districts were not being met by the school or community library.
The grant started July 1 and is a three-year long grant. As of the first of August, information and application information will be sent out. Applications will be taken up until Sept. 1.
This is not the first grant that Pittsburg State has received from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. Back in 2013, Pitt State was awarded a grant that focused on Native American culture and again provided scholarships to school librarians.
“That was a very successful… project as well,” Hudiburg said. “All 25 of those who (were selected) have graduated and several of them are now working, practicing librarians. But even if they are not, they went away with a more… understanding and the realization of how culture plays a role in how people learn, especially children; what they bring with them from home, the cultural differences that may influence how they interact with other students, how they interact with adults and those kinds of things. So, they went away a better ability to work with all students and not just ones that are like them.”
Hudiburg hopes that the grant will help the future educators of the community and surrounding areas.
“All of these students, once they go through, they will be alumni of Pitt State so they will have taken six semesters of courses online so hopefully they take away an enthusiasm about what Pitt State has to offer and that their professors really care about them as people and that we care about the people they will be teaching and that we just want to make the community and Pitt State a good place for everybody,” Hudiburg said.