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TWU awarded $1.6 million grant to improve English language literacy


  DENTON — Texas Woman’s University has been awarded a $1.6 million federal grant to improve the literacy and language skills of English language learners in rural north Texas schools.  

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Professional Development Program in the Office of English Language Acquisition recently awarded 73 grants worth $24.5 million per year for projects designed to better prepare teachers to serve students with limited English proficiency.  TWU’s Project SMARTTTEL (Science and Mathematics for All: Rural Teacher Training through Technology for English Learners) received $1,642,630.  

Project SMARTTTEL is a five-year project designed to develop, implement and evaluate an online professional development program for math and science teachers of grades four through 12.  TWU’s current partners on the grant include Education Service Center (ESC) Region 11 and the Millsap, Godley, Valley View, Poolville, Paris, Little Elm, Rio Vista and Aubrey school districts.  TWU, which is seeking to partner with additional districts, will train 54 math and science teachers from these schools in such areas as multicultural education, Second Language Acquisition, English as a Second Language (ESL) methods and more.  These teachers then will mentor at least one colleague in their home districts.  

Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas, TWU associate professor of teacher education and director of Project SMARTTTEL, said the four graduate courses offered through the project will be completely online and will be tailored to the specific needs of the rural math and science teachers.  TWU will provide laptop computers for the participants to use throughout the project.  Those teachers who successfully complete the program will be allowed to keep the computers, she said.  

The project includes a three-day, on-campus summer institute that will highlight research-based, hands-on strategies for English language learners.  The institute also will incorporate Spanish for the secondary classroom and provide teachers with key vocabulary and phrases to help them in working with their Spanish-speaking students.  

“Because of changing demographics, many teachers in rural school districts are challenged with meeting the needs of their English language learners,” Dr. Hansen-Thomas said.  “We are excited to be able to give these teachers the tools and skills to better prepare those students for academic success.”  

For more information about Project SMARTTTEL, contact Dr. Hansen-Thomas at or Liliana Grosso at

Media Contact:

Karen Garcia
Senior Writer

page updated 10/2/2014 10:59 AM