Providing better futures for Iowans
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Three University of Iowa College of Education leaders have received Better Futures for Iowans grants to support projects in dentistry, disability, and world language education.
The grants come from the UI Provost’s Office and support outreach projects that address a goal of the university’s strategic plan: to provide better futures for Iowans.
Project SEALED (Service, Engagement and LifeCareer Education in Dentistry)
Saba Ali, an associate professor of Counseling Psychology in the UI College of Education, is collaborating on Project SEALED—an acronym for Service Engagement And LifeCareer Education in Dentistry—with Daniel Caplan, head of the Department of Preventative and Community Dentistry at the UI College of Dentistry. Ali says the project aims to increase the diversity of Iowa’s dental workforce and enhance learning experiences for dentistry students. It also helps improve access to oral health care for Iowa's high-need populations.
The project will provide dental care to K-12 students in Allamakee County, in the northeast corner of the state.
Project SEALED, which earned nearly $150,000 in funding from the Better Future for Iowans Initiative, is an extension of Ali’s Project HOPE—an acronym for Healthcare Occupations, Preparation, and Exploration—which encourages middle school students in largely Hispanic communities to explore health professions.
“Minority students and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often foreclose early on careers and can eliminate possibilities based on many factors,” says Ali. “We hope to encourage them to pursue careers in healthcare. Exposure to a wide variety of careers can help to broaden their ideas of what is available in the dental field.”
Iowa Assistive Technology Professional Development Network
Associate Director of the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research James R. Stachowiak and his graduate student, Jennifer Andersen, have embarked on a mission to better educate faculty working with special needs students about new technology available for students with disabilities. Their work is now aided by a $95,000 Better Futures for Iowans grant.
Stachowiak’s white board is covered with different topics for the online webinars his center hosts every week for the educators. The webinars help educators learn hands-on opportunities to work with their disabled students via the iPad.
“There is much technology available for teachers, but many aren't aware of these tools,” Stachowiak says as he demonstrates a new speaking app. “Also, with budget cuts, there is limited training on these tools. Our goal is to create something that we can quickly and easily deliver at a distance so that they can watch the demo live and ask questions if they get confused.”
Preparing Iowa’s Students for the Global 21st-century Economy with World Languages
Nicholas Colangelo, interim dean of the College of Education, is working with UI World Languages Professor Russell Ganim; in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to develop a program to broaden the number of students and teachers proficient in speaking and teaching Chinese and Japanese. Their work is supported by a $60,000 Better Futures for Iowans grant.
Colangelo and Ganim are looking to put Iowa’s students in a prime position to compete globally by working with both students and teachers to enhance language programs in high schools.
“We are convinced that if we get more teachers prepared,” says Colangelo, “their passion will impact the students.”
Participating teachers will attend a short summer session at the UI and will have access to online resources throughout the year. These teachers will receive a stipend to cover costs.
The ultimate goal is to expand AP programs for high school students and promote world language education across Iowa and eventually across the nation.
“We want Iowa students to graduate with a high level of international language skills,” Colangelo says. “Such an achievement would make our students even more competitive in college and careers. This is the vision of the World Language Institute.”