Valley school districts receive grant to boost social studies education

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Through a U.S Department of Education grant, Region One Education Service Center is hoping to boost social studies education in underserved populations through professional development and hands-on field experiences.

Over the next three years, the $3 million National Activities Grant aims to increase educator effectiveness within the areas of American history, civics, geography, government and digital citizenship.

Project director Rose Michelle Zuniga said about $1 million will go to each year of the program, which has over 300 K-12 educators participating in the initiative.

“The need for the professional development of social studies is a national need,” Zuniga said. “It’s very important that students learn about history, civics, and government, so that they know what to expect as they become a productive citizen. So, a lot of the time areas in reading, language arts and math are heavily concentrated on and so we kind of lose ourselves in not really knowing a lot of our social studies. But so that’s what we want to engage teachers and students in this opportunity, for them to have that knowledge.”

The educators are from the La Villa, Lasara, Lyford, Monte Alto, Rio Grande City Grulla, Roma, San Isidro, San Perlita, Santa Maria, Webb County, Raymondville, Zapata County, Brooks County and Jim Hogg County school districts.

She said the educators will go through professional development opportunities such as face-to-face development with partners to provide content knowledge in the areas mentioned.

Included in the professional development is virtual training, seminars, network opportunities and study trips with a selected amount of participating educators.

Some of the study trips include visiting the Holocaust Museum in Houston and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.

With each year of the program having a certain theme to it, the first theme is centered around the founding of American liberty and the progress and division of a new nation.

The following year’s themes include industrialization, globalization of America and modern American.

“So based on the theme that we’re in for the year, then that’s how we will select our professional development sites,” Zuniga said. “ One of the ones that we are doing this summer … is with the Museum of South Texas History. They’re going to be providing us some professional development, some strategies and some hands-on based activities there. So, it’s embedded already within the professional development for the teachers so they’re able to make those connections with real world experiences.”

The program kicked off in April with activities and will continue in the summer.

“It’s going to really impact the student population because now with all the digital information that goes on social media and stuff like that. It’s really to show the responsibility of how to be a community member with responsibility to what you’re posting as well … and that’s something that the students will definitely take away. They could have that knowledge when they, you know, go out into the community, society and years to come.”