A $120,000 grant to The Indiana Partnership for Young Writers (IPYW) will help Butler’s College of Education (COE) create teacher training for early childhood education programs and develop additional programs “that could benefit up to 1,500 local preschool and elementary students,” according to IPYW Director Susan Adamson, a COE faculty member.

Students at IPS/Butler Lab School

Students at IPS/Butler Lab School

The grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust will also support new initiatives to mentor entry-level minority teachers, develop online literacy curricula, and showcase student writing, including work by IPS/Butler Laboratory School students. All programs will be targeted at teachers in the Indianapolis Public Schools, the metropolitan school districts of Wayne and Warren townships, and the St. Mary Child Care centers. 

The Partnership, which became an affiliated program of Butler COE this fall, offers professional development for reading, writing and recently math to teachers in grades K-8.

IPYW hopes to address problems in urban Indianapolis schools, noted in a 2008 survey by the United Way of Central Indiana. The survey found a student achievement gap between suburban and urban schools, and a serious need for early childhood education to get children ready to learn in kindergarten.

“Supporting teachers in our underserved city schools will make a difference for generations. The relationship between student and teacher is often the critical difference in a successful life,” said Gene D’Adamo, President and CEO of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

A portion of the grant will allow the Partnership and COE to develop and pilot teacher training for 60 early childhood educators in urban Indianapolis.

Adamson said the training will include workshops led by Matt Glover, a nationally recognized early literacy scholar. Staff from all three St. Mary’s Child Center locations—including its program at the IPS/Butler Lab School—will participate in the early childhood pilot at no cost.

Grant funds will be used to recruit six entry-level minority teachers as new members of IPYW’s Young Leaders in Urban Education (YLUE) study group. Aimed at retaining highly qualified minority teachers in the profession, YLUE provides peer mentoring and professional leadership development opportunities. 

“This is vital especially in Indianapolis where the minority student population is 77 percent but only 19 percent of its certified employees are teachers of color,” Adamson said. “Children need to see people like themselves in these crucial instructional roles.

“Further, these teachers become some of the finest teachers of reading and writing entering the profession. They are able to deliver high-quality literacy curriculum earlier in their teaching careers, and they make professional development in the teaching of reading and writing part of their professional lives.”

“Grant funds will allow us to provide a Butler education faculty to facilitate monthly meetings for YLUE cohort members, as well as professional texts and stipends for participating teachers, and travel expenses and registration fees, so they can attend national professional conferences,” she said. “Six experienced YLUE members will be asked to mentor these new entry-level minority teachers.”

Three online K-8 curriculum modules in reading and writing will be developed with grant funding. The modules will feature the leadership-level work of IPYW trained teachers and provide supplementary support for an estimated 90 educators participating in IPYW programs in urban Indianapolis schools.

IPYW will also showcase student achievement in two projects supported by the grant. It will print an anthology of writing by 175 students in grades K-8 from throughout Indiana.  It will also host a “Family Literacies Night,” involving families of Lab School and St. Mary’s Child Center students.

IPYW was one of 23 Indiana non-profit organizations to receive Pulliam Trust grants in late November. The grants, totaling $1,993,460, will support work in the Trust’s priority areas of helping people in need, protecting animals and nature, and enriching community life.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson