IPS scores major history grant 

State Museum and Martin U. will collaborate

The old saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And that is a lesson officials at Indianapolis Public Schools are determined local students won’t have to learn the hard way.

This week, IPS expects to get the first installment of a $962,979 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve the teaching of American history through teacher development and improving the use of outside sources, such as museums and libraries. The Teaching American History grant supports three-year projects to “improve teachers’ appreciation for and knowledge of traditional American history,” said a spokeswoman at the U.S. Department of Education.

IPS applied for the grant through the office of Wanda Reese, the director of grant writing and resource development, said IPS spokeswoman Kim Hooper. And the district will partner with the Indiana State Museum to fulfill the grant’s requirements.

“This is a great opportunity for us to work with IPS ... to build some relationships that will go beyond the scope of this grant,” said Stephanie Seawell, grants manager for the State Museum.

Martin University also is in partnership with IPS on the federal grant but details are still being hammered out, said Elizabeth Staton, Martin’s dean of academic affairs. But Seawell said the museum will host four workshops a year for 35 teachers over three years. She was not sure if it would involve the same 35 teachers or whether there would be a rotation.

The museum contains materials and exhibits highlighting Indiana’s cultural and natural history. The goal of the partnership “will be to familiarize the teachers with the museum and to help them to be better equipped to use the resources of the museum,” Seawell said. “And we will talk a lot about the importance of visiting museums.” Teachers will use the museum to focus on two areas: fourth-grade Indiana history and the role of African-American pioneers and the Underground Railroad. Indiana history is a state curriculum requirement for all Hoosier fourth-grade students and African-American history is a growing subject of interest in Indiana schools, Seawell said. “Some of the resources teachers can use in the classroom,” she added.

IPS is one of only four Hoosier institutions receiving Teaching American History grants this year. Anderson public schools are getting $996,060, while the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities is getting $830,925 and Martinsville schools are getting $999,735.

Meghan Keck, a spokeswoman for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), praised the schools receiving the federal money. She said by studying Indiana and American history, “Young people learn about the values on which our country was founded and the common experiences that bind us together as Americans … This grant will provide Hoosier students with new and creative ways to study our shared history so they can benefit from the important lessons of the past.”

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