TU's Patricia Doran awarded $2.2M to EMPOWER English language learners

Five-year grant helps undergraduate and graduate students improve their readiness to serve English language learners

By Jen Dippel on October 5, 2017

Patricia Doran, Ph.D., associate professor in Towson University's College of Education, has been awarded a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the United States Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA).

Entitled “English Learners Moving to Proficient Outcomes with Engagement and Rigor (EMPOWER),” Doran’s project will aid the increasing population of English learner students in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

According to Doran, “COE faculty will engage in a multi-pronged effort to build capacity, with the COE and in the community, for serving our increasing population of English learner students.

“Our English learner students represent an incredible asset for our country, yet they also face unique challenges. We need to keep shining the spotlight on them and building our capacity to better serve and teach them,” said OELA Assistant Deputy Secretary José A. Viana.

“With this funding, we continue to deliver on our promise of equity, excellence and opportunity in supporting educators, students and families across the country. They are counting on us to help them soar."

The grant provides support for selected College of Education undergraduates to take elective courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Additionally, the grant involves a partnership with the educational non-profit Children’s Guild that operates two contract schools in partnership with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Monarch Academy in Laurel and Monarch Academy in Annapolis. The grant provides support for 18 selected educators to complete a master’s degree in educational leadership with ESOL and special education coursework embedded.

The goals for the program include:

  • Creating a model set of schools, responsive to full continuum of English Learners (ELs) linguistic, cultural and instructional needs.
  • Develop, implement and disseminate coursework for preservice educators seeking elementary/elementary-special education certification in order to improve their readiness to serve ELs.
  • To effect systemic change in TU’s teacher education model by designing, offering and disseminating an innovative M.Ed. program that combines ESOL, leadership skills and responsive decision-making and identification.
  • Incorporate and disseminate family and community engagement strategies across all areas of EMPOWER programming.

Special Education Department Chair Betsy Neville, Ph.D., and Educational Technology & Literacy Department Chair Gilda Martinez-Alba are serving as co-Principal Investigators, and Ray Lorion, Ph.D., of Towson University Center for Application and Innovation Research in Education (CAIRE) will lead the evaluation effort for the project.

Towson University is one of 42 colleges and universities to receive funding from the $20 million award expected to serve approximately 1,796 pre-service and 9,731 in-service teachers nationwide.

TU produces 31 percent of Maryland's teachers, with nearly 80 percent of recent TU graduates live and/or work in the state.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.