October 7, 2005
05-224

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Sementha Mathews Manager of Public Information and Media Relations

VSU Takes Leading Role in Improving American History Teaching

Valdosta State University will soon have the opportunity to impact the quality of American history teaching in the region with federal funding awarded to a partnering service agency.

With a grant just shy of $1 million recently awarded by the U.S Department of Education to the Coastal Plains Regional Education Service Agency in Lenox, Georgia, VSU's History Department will take a leading role by providing the faculty to work with selected elementary, middle and high school history teachers in the districts of the Coastal Plains RESA area.

The funding, part of the Teaching American History Grants Program, will help improve teachers' knowledge, understanding and appreciation for American history and, therefore, improve the quality of the history education received by their students.

"Although we were involved with a large Teaching American History grant previously, this is the first time the department and the College of Arts and Sciences partnered directly with the RESA," said Paul Riggs, assistant professor and head of the History Department.

Riggs, who was the co-principal investigator of the grant and instrumental in structuring the program's budget and directives, said local history teachers already do a great job. The program will provide meaningful development opportunities pertaining to their subject matter. For example, since an integral part of education is analyzing historical events and observing the locations where they happened, teachers will take summer trips to places such as Savannah, Charleston, Augusta-even Philadelphia, Pa.-to enhance their teaching abilities.

The recruitment of about 50 teachers for the program, scheduled to begin infall 2006, has already begun.

"The department has received grants from private foundations before, but this grant is by far the largest," Riggs added. "We are honored to have been chosen - and excited to get underway."