Five JCPS schools receive $7.5 million to help teachers, student - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Five JCPS schools receive $7.5 million to help teachers, students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Two grants totaling $7.5 million will help five public schools in Jefferson County boost teacher preparedness and effectiveness, as well as provide additional summer enrichment activities for students, the University of Louisville announced Friday.

The Academy @ Shawnee, Westport Middle and Atkinson, Cochran and Portland elementary schools will all benefit from the $5 million gift from the Mary K. Oxley Foundation, as well as another $2.5 million in matching funds from the University of Louisville Foundation.

The gift from the Oxley Foundation is the largest private gift in the university's College of Education and Human Development's history.

The five schools selected are part of the university's Signature Partnership Initiative, a program launched in 2007 to improve quality of life for residents in west Louisville.

Debby Oxley, a trustee for the Mary K. Oxley Foundation, and her husband John “Jack” Oxley are longtime public education advocates who indicated that they wanted to invest in a program giving disadvantaged students a leg up.

“(This) seemed like an ideal vehicle to help Louisville-area schools with the greatest need,” Oxley said.

The $5 million gift renews and expands programs initially funded by the Oxleys in 2010 with a $1 million donation.

“This extraordinary gift allows us to do even more to train outstanding teachers,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “It will expand our nationally recognized clinical model of teacher preparation and provide other opportunities for teachers to meet the needs of at-risk youth.”

The combined gifts will help provide:

- Summer enrichment for at-risk students. 

- Professional development opportunities for teachers. 

- Support for JCPS teachers to pursue National Board Certification, a process that can take one to three years and cost more than $2,000. Those who gain certification must agree to remain at the school for at least three more years. 

- An intensive, clinical education program that pairs student teachers with experienced mentors as they work collaboratively to customize learning plans for each student. 

- Expansion of a Teacher in Residence program where experts in urban education are hired as a resource for other teachers.

Staci Eddleman, principal of Westport Middle, said Friday she and her staff were thrilled to hear about the donation.

“We are privileged to be able to partner with the University of Louisville and the Oxley Foundation in this exciting opportunity to improve our practice and benefit our students,” she said. “Through the generosity of the Oxleys, we have already been able to provide meaningful professional learning for our teachers, instructional coaching from our Teacher-in-Residence, and support for our National Board candidates.”

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens said the grant is an “investment in our teachers and students” and is an “exceptional and invaluable contribution to our district's mission.”

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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