Education program receives $100,000 grant


Cumberland University is one of four institutions statewide to receive a Diversity in Teaching Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), officials announced yesterday.

The $100,000 grant will be used to provide scholarships and cover expenses for 18 new English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers over the next two years. Scholarship recipients will be identified by district leaders from among their existing teaching faculty and recommended to the program in a “grow your own” model. This process solves challenges that rural districts often face in recruiting teachers for hard-to-staff positions from outside the district.

“Becoming a teacher is actually a fairly expensive process considering the cost of coursework and tests required for different types of licensure. The grant will cover all tuition, testing fees, and other costs to teachers from DeKalb County Schools, the Lebanon Special School District (LSSD), and Warren County Schools,” said Eric Cummings, dean of the School of Humanities, Education and the Arts.

Sandy Smith, CU’s ESL program director explains that these three districts “are close to Cumberland and have higher percentages of ESL students than is typical for Tennessee.” Leadership in each of these districts identified ESL certified teachers as an area of need in their district and agreed to work with Cumberland to identify and place teachers in the program.

“I’ve participated in a grant like this from a different institution, but that didn’t include the costs of the tests and registration fees, so I’m excited about working with CU on this grant,” said Warren County Schools Director Bobby Cox.

Highly effective teachers selected by the directors of those school systems will use the scholarships to earn an add-on endorsement in English as a Second Language in Cumberland University’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. The first of four classes will start in July, and scholarship recipients can complete their coursework and tests for the license by the end of June 2018.

“With this grant CU is partnering with THEC and three different districts in Middle Tennessee to get new ESL-certified teachers into classrooms and schools that really need them,” said Cummings.

Smith designed the program to fit the schedules of working adults and teachers, but still provide rigorous preparation for a challenging field.

Cumberland University’s educator preparation programs received the highest overall rating (4) in the 2016 Teacher Preparation Report Card (Tennessee Department of Education, 2016).

Cumberland University has one of the longest, richest histories of any higher education institution in the state. Founded in 1842, the University flourishes today with exceptional faculty and fully-accredited academic programs steeped in the liberal arts, including three distinct schools: the Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions; the School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts; and the Labry School of Science, Technology, and Business. With a student body approaching 2,000, 25 percent of whom live on campus, our unique residential living and learning experience allows students to find their sense of belonging. Athletics also are a strength of Cumberland University, as its teams in 20 sports regularly compete for conference and national championships. Its world-renowned baseball team has claimed the NAIA national championship title three times since 2004. At Cumberland University you can Learn What’s Possible!

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