‘Washington Post’ spotlights TU as it prepares teachers for multilingual future

Towson University's ELEVATE program from College of Education is leading national conversation.

November 8, 2021

Associate professor of special education Patricia Rice Doran, second from right, serves as principal investigator for project ELEVATE with, from left to right, special education department chair Elizabeth Neville, COE assistant dean Gilda Martinez Alba, and project director Danielle Turner. (Photo: Alex Wright) 

Towson University's pioneering College of Education (COE), which is one of the country's leaders in training future teachers, was highlighted by “The Washington Post” on Nov. 8 for an innovative program preparing for bilingual classrooms.

The story comes on the heels of recent grants to the COE for the program. To support the university’s preparation of educators, including those who teach English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition awarded Towson University $2.7 million over five years for Enhancing Literacy for English Learners: Valuing Assets Through Engagement (ELEVATE).

The grant builds on a previous five-year, federally funded project, EMPOWER, in which TU partnered with Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) and AACPS’ largest contract school operator, the Children’s Guild. ELEVATE further develops these partnerships to improve instruction for English learners with an additional focus on literacy.

“It really brings together literacy and ESOL,” project director Danielle Turner ’09, ’19 told the TU Newsroom last month. “As a graduate of the reading education master's program, I'm a big fan of the new grant tapping into that asset of the program we already have and pairing it with the certification in ESOL.”

Funding will support coursework and training activities enabling 96 TU education students and 32 in-service teachers to receive ESOL endorsement. The funding also supports training for an additional 100 school staff members and 100 family members per year.

Lynnett Hernandez ’22, an early childhood and special education major who will be prepared to obtain her ESOL endorsement through the existing federal grant, told the “Washington Post” her upbringing in a bilingual household inspired her to desire to work with multilingual students.

“We really learned that we never know how much knowledge or potential a child can hold until we can fully accommodate and break down language barriers in the classroom,” said Hernandez, who is Salvadoran American.  At TU, she has learned strategies to build relationships with families and support students who have experienced learning loss or challenges at home.

Read more of “The Washington Post” story on COE.