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December 9, 2008

ULM receives service-learning grants; benefit Monroe City Schools

The University of Louisiana System announced grant awards through the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Learn and Serve America Program on Friday, including more than $12,000 for two separate ULM projects during academic year 2009-10.

The UL System awarded Project SOAR a total of $7,697.08 to launch and sustain a partnership with the Monroe City Schools that meets the needs of both the ULM teacher candidates and the students at Cypress Point University Elementary.

Project SOAR comes from the acronym: Shared decision-making, Ongoing and equal partnerships, Assessment-based interventions and Reciprocity of resources. It is based on National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education standards for professional development schools.

The project addresses specific academic areas of need by enabling ULM teacher candidates to implement targeted interventions with small groups of first through fifth-grade students in basic reading skills and small groups of intermediate students in writing.

Professors Beth Ricks and Lynn Clark are co-recipients of the grant, with assistance from Ann Cook of Monroe City School District.

The UL System also awarded funding for the Food for Thought: Linking Nutrition, Health, and School Performance project. The project addresses needs identified in a previous grant and is intended to increase awareness of the impact of nutrition on student learning and to promote healthy food choices on school menus.

Dorothy Schween and Danita Potter, the grant’s co-authors, said that studies show a strong link between low academic achievement, obesity and dysfunctional behavior in children.

"Some students coming from low-income communities within the Monroe City School District suffer from high incidences of nutrition-related issues and a corresponding low level of academic performance," said Schween.

In-services, activities, and guidance will be provided to faculty, staff, students and parents in these schools. Topics will include Balanced Meal Planning, Eating for Energy, Food and Focus, Balancing Weight and Nutrition, and Having a Healthy Body Image.

The Food for Thought project is a collaborative effort between the Colleges of Nursing and Education at ULM. College of Nursing Professor Renee Miller participated in the grant, along with Lynn Clark from the College of Education.

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