June 15, 2021 – Valparaiso, Indiana – Valparaiso University received a $479,995 Student Learning Recovery Grant from the Indiana Department of Education to address learning losses among K–12 students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This grant provides a great opportunity for Valparaiso University to serve our community and help ease the burden a global pandemic has left on local K–12 students,” said Jon T. Kilpinen ’88, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The grant will support professional development opportunities for teachers in Michigan City, Merrillville, and Washington Township school districts. It will also establish the first cohort of local teachers who will act as leaders in their schools.

“Every teacher will face different problems caused by the pandemic,” said Selina Bartels, Ph.D., assistant professor of education. “We will look at specific needs of each teacher, classroom and school and develop ongoing resources to address them. Our focus is on leveling the playing field and eliminating any learning gaps.”

In addition to professional development, cohort teachers will also mentor Valpo elementary education juniors for a three-week practicum in both the fall and spring semesters. This community partnership is the first phase of research conducted by Bartels and Benjamin Boche, Ph.D., assistant professor of education, to develop new best practices for the elementary education curriculum.

Valpo students will also join cohort teachers on campus to analyze classroom test scores, discuss ways to support students in overcoming pandemic-related learning losses and prepare research data for publication in the future.

“This will be very beneficial on multiple fronts,” Bartels said. “Teachers will receive resources and trainings on Valpo’s campus. Valpo elementary education students will gain a deeper connection with two in-service teachers during their junior year before they begin student teaching.”

Valpo’s grant is part of a statewide initiative to accelerate student learning through community partnerships. More than $122 million in Student Learning Recovery Grants have been awarded across Indiana.