A $900,000 grant heading to Louisiana to help teachers and students

$900,000 is heading to the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to help them expand their online encyclopedia of resources on history, culture, and more.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 12:53 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - $900,000 is heading to the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) to help them expand their online encyclopedia of resources on history, culture and more in the state.

Thanks to the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation grant, the organization will be able to establish a statewide hub of resources and expand its online encyclopedia by 300 entries.

“For us to understand the world we live in, it’s really important for us to look back at the good and the difficult aspects of American history because it has not all been roses,” said Erin Greenwald, LEH vice president of public programs and editor-in-chief of 64parishes.org.

Exploring Louisiana’s past, reflecting on our present and imagining our future are the goals of the organization. The new resource hub will do just that for Louisiana social studies teachers.

“With this new grant and with the cooperation of the Louisiana Department of Education, we are also taking these existing resources and we are leveling them to grade-appropriate reading levels, which is amazing,” Greenwald said. “So we’ve actually just launched our first batch of four - it’s not very many - but we’ve got four new entries on pre-historic Louisiana.”

The grant will also let them start up teacher workshops across the state and help pay for teachers to travel to them. Greenwald said this is a big deal since they haven’t been able to do the workshops in about 10 years.

“The priorities, federally, for a long time shifted to STEM and now we’re seeing a shift back to civics and social studies education because -- of course -- it’s really important for us to understand who we are and where we come from to get along better in some ways and not repeat some of the things that have happened in the past,” Greenwald said.

Having in-depth pieces to look at of Louisiana history will also help make the job easier for teachers because the requirements for teaching social studies are changing in the state. Greenwald said the requirements hadn’t changed in about 7 years.

“There have been significant changes, we are working with LDOE to make sure that we’re providing content that’s aligned with the new standards and that can best help teachers transition,” explains Greenwald. “To give you a sense of some of those changes - in the previous standard for social studies Louisiana history was really taught in grades three and eight, in the new iteration the majority of grades will teach Louisiana history alongside U.S. history or even alongside ancient history, so in grade four, for example, the focus is the ancient world so they’ll be learning not only about Aztecs and Egyptians but also cultures like those at poverty point.”

Having the workshops, resources right at their fingertips, and more in-depth training will help teachers prepare for the new standards taking effect for the 2023 - 2024 school year.

“We’re going to be able to hire someone who can coordinate the workshops and a lot of the funds will actually go toward paying travel and teacher stipends for participation in the workshops, as well as stipends and travel for curriculum specialists and historians who we’ll bring in to help teachers.”

Greenwald says they’ll have a Fall Publication party for that season’s 64 Parishes magazine in Monroe on November 3rd. They’re partnering with the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana to make it happen and will release more details on a venue later.

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