Baylor, Local Districts Receive 'Teaching American History' Grant

Oct. 21, 2003

by Lori Scott Fogleman

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant of nearly $1 million to Baylor University's School of Education and department of history to fund "Crossroads in American History," a three-year project to provide high-quality professional development for history and social studies teachers in seven Central Texas school districts.

Baylor's grant was submitted through the Region 12 Education Service Center, which will carry out the proposed activities in partnership with Baylor education and history faculty, The Texas Collection and the Institute for Oral History; The Historic Waco Foundation; The University of Texas Center for American History; The Harold B. Simpson History Center at Hill College; and The Czech Heritage Museum.

The grant partners will implement research-based programs for kindergarten through high school teachers in the Waco, China Spring, Connally, Crawford, Cranfills Gap, Kopperl and Westphalia school districts. More than 20,000 students will be impacted by the history program.

"This grant demonstrates Baylor's commitment to public service and the education of young people in Texas," said Dr. J. Wesley Null, assistant professor of education and project director. "The goal with these funds will be to increase the public's knowledge of American history through providing opportunities for history and social studies teachers within our region."

The grant program supports collaborations between school districts and institutions to ensure that teachers develop the knowledge, skills and commitments necessary to teach traditional American history in exciting and engaging ways. Through these projects, districts will demonstrate how comprehensive professional development affects high-quality American history teaching, while students increase their knowledge and achievement in American history.

Null said the program will provide teachers with content, teaching strategies, release time, mentoring opportunities and resources for the teaching of American history. It also will facilitate interaction between teachers, higher education institutions, historians, experts in pedagogy and museum professionals for an open exchange of resources and ideas.

The Crossroads in American History project will include yearly three-week summer institutes at Baylor, collaborative professional development experiences during each school year, seminars that center on content knowledge and related pedagogy for pre-service teachers, and yearly school-based mentoring and observation support for new American history teachers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige made the grant announcement last month in Washington, D.C., calling the Teaching American History grants "powerful tools for teachers."

"For three years, the grants link together our nation's history teachers with professional historians and other experts," Paige said. "We do this because teachers who have a deep and vast knowledge of their subject are better able to inspire their students, to fully engage their minds and to imbue them with a lifelong taste for learning."

Teachers in the participating school districts will be invited to apply for participation in grant activities.

For more information, contact Null at (254) 710-6120 or

Other contacts:

Dr. James SoRelle, Baylor history department chair, (254) 710-4621 or

Dr. Thomas Charlton, acting director of The Texas Collection, at (254) 710-1268 or

Joan Berry, director of core curriculum for Region 12 ESC, at (254) 297-1113 or

Todd Kettler, director of advanced academic studies for Waco ISD, at (254) 755-9564 or

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