Each year, the Ashbrook Center works closely with a few school districts and local education agencies to develop customized Teaching American History Grant partnerships. These grants support professional development projects that aim to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history. Initiated in 2001, the TAH Grant Program was promoted by US Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia to address his concern that many current students lack basic knowledge of American history and are unaware of the unique accomplishments of our Founding Fathers.
The Ashbrook Center can provide assistance to local education agencies in writing their Teaching American History Grant applications and in planning and identifying educational opportunities for teachers served by the grant. Grant funds can be used to facilitate high-quality in-service or pre-service professional development activities to improve American history content knowledge of teachers, collaboration between teachers and history experts, and mentoring and coaching of teachers.
Very often the projects funded by these grants offer some combination of study at Ashbrook's intensive week-long summer institutes with training and enrichment programs, offered by other grant partners, through one- or two-day workshops held during the school year. "These workshops may be trips to local historic sites with sessions led by historians or training sessions on integration of primary source documents into the curriculum led by master teachers. There are many possibilities," explains Christian Pascarella, Associate Director of the Master of American History and Government Program.
In these grant partnerships, the Ashbrook Center may work with a single large school district, an educational cooperative, a regional educational service center, an intermediate educational district, or some consortium of these or other kinds of smaller local educational agencies. "Grant proposals which impact more students have a greater chance of being funded," Pascarella noted. "Additionally, the administrative burden is less when several smaller agencies work together."
Teaching American History grants are designed to provide comprehensive funding, so that the extra costs of running educational programs for teachers do not become prohibitive. "Everythingincluding program costs, administrative overhead, the salary of the project director, facilities, meals, supplies, substitute teachers, travel expenses, etc.can be charged to the grant. For local educational agencies beyond driving distance to Ashland, grant money can be allocated to pay for airfare for teacher travel," Pascarella said.
Participants in Ashbrook's summer institutes read all the assigned material, attend each class meeting of the institute, and actively participate in class discussion. For their attendance and participation, each earns two semester hours of audit credit for their attendance.
Because Ashbrook's summer institutes are part of its fully-accredited Master of American History and Government program, teachers participating in the institutes may, for an additional fee, earn full graduate-level credit for their coursework at the institutes. The credit is in the content field of American history and government. With completion of other course requirementsusually a final exam or a paperparticipants may apply this credit to the MAHG degree program. The credit may also be used for teacher certification purposes or transfer to another universityís degree program.
"Several of our recent grants have been initiated by classroom teachers who have had the opportunity to attend one of our summer institutes," Pascarella said. "Many attendees of our summer institutes arrive here unfamiliar with the TAH program," but after experiencing the high quality of the instruction offered by MAHG professors and the excitement of "learning among a group of teachers who share their own passion for history, they return home and begin to push their principals and district administrators to pursue a grant for their own district. These satisfied teachers have been one of our most important sources of new partnerships."
Grant applications are generally prepared in the fall. Those interested in discussing a Teaching American History grant partnership are encouraged to contact Christian Pascarella at firstname.lastname@example.org.