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Morningside on a Mission to Improve Education Opportunity for Immigrants

INTERVIEW: Dr. Kelly Chaney - Morningside University

Morningside University received a $2.3 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Education to offer education programs to help Iowa’s growing immigrant population.

“What we can do is provide pathways for current teachers to earn and English as a second language endorse that will improve their instruction and help English-language learners.”

Dr. Kelly Chaney is the Dean of the Sharon Walker School of Education at Morningside. University officials say Iowa’s Latinx population grew by almost 500% from 1990 to 2017.

“We really did focus our grant around those community that have a large migrant population and have the high need with English-language learning in their communities.”

The program will help K-12 schools across the state of Iowa, in school districts in Sioux City, Storm Lake, and Denison in the Siouxland area.

“Helping in those school districts in rural Iowa meets the needs of those students and their families gives us not only a chance to integrate into our communities, make them feel welcome and increase their learning as the families grow and develop and become part of our community.”   

Credit Moringside University
Dr. Kelly Chaney

The program, called Project Connect launches in the summer and will work with local and regional education agencies and include development for non-teachers as well.

Morningside did receive grants in 2007 and 2012 totaling almost three million dollars to establish the first ESL program at the graduate level and coursework for 100 teachers to receive ESL endorsements.

More information on Project Connect from Morningside University:

  • According to the Iowa Department of Education, the number of English Language Learners has increased by 250% over the last 20 years.
  • We targeted rural regions of Iowa where English Language Learner student populations exceeded 15% of the school district population. The districts we identified have ELL populations anywhere from 18% to 57%.  
  • Our grant, Project Connect, has support from 9 School Districts and 4 Areas Education Agencies as follows;

School Districts:
Eagle Grove
Sioux Center
Sioux City
Storm Lake
West Sioux
Central Rivers
Prairie Lakes
News release from Morningside University:

Sioux City, Iowa – Morningside University has been selected to receive a $2.3 million grant from the United States Department of Education English Language Acquisition National Professional Development Program. The grant will allow the Morningside University Sharon Walker School of Education to build a program to offer flexible baccalaureate and master’s degree teacher preparation programs with English as a second language (ESL) endorsements and professional development and training opportunities to improve instruction of English learners (ELs) in targeted high EL student population communities across Iowa.

“Iowa’s Latinx population has grown by almost 500% between 1990 and 2017,” said Dr. Alden Stout, associate vice president of academic affairs at Morningside University. “As a regional resource, Morningside wants to be responsive to what our Iowa schools and businesses need. This program will allow us to better prepare educators to meet the needs of K-12 EL learners and their families in parts of Iowa where access to flexible professional development and degree endorsement programs are limited.”

To accomplish the goals of the grant, Morningside University Dean of the Sharon Walker School of Education Dr. Kelly Chaney and her team will develop Project Connect, which will house the various offerings for educators and create a consortium with seven local education agencies (LEAs) and four area education agencies (AEAs) to ensure the needs of educators are being met. Activities will specifically target areas where a large segment of the population are migrants or refugees working in food production facilities, as well as in rural areas with few than 5,000 students but with a population of ELs over 15%. 

“This grant is meant to better serve English learners in Iowa by providing educators who are located in more rural areas with greater access to flexible professional development and degree and endorsement programs,” said Chaney. “Morningside has been a leader in the state of Iowa in offering online education options for educators for many years and this is the next phase of that work.”

Morningside has a history of success with National Professional Development programs. It received a $1.2 million grant in 2007 that offered the Northwest Area Education Agency the first ESL programming at the graduate level to teachers of language learners. Then in 2012, Morningside was awarded $1.7 million to identify 100 in-service teachers to complete coursework for an Iowa ESL endorsement. 

“Dr. Stout, Dr. Chaney, and their team have done a phenomenal job of identifying an important need within the Iowa education community and creating a proposal that will serve our state and students well. The work this grant will accomplish will help build a stronger Iowa, and it continues Morningside’s legacy of excellence in education,” said Morningside University President John Reynders.

The team who completed the work on the grant proposal included Dr. Alden Stout; Dr. Kelly Chaney; Dr. Tangela Sylvester, assistant professor for undergraduate teacher education; Dr. Kim Christopherson, professor of graduate education; Dr. Carolyn Glackin, assistant professor of undergraduate teacher education; George Holland, program coordinator for MAT programs; and Joan Nielsen, retired associate professor of education. 

Morningside has been offering education-related programs since it was founded in 1894 and offers a variety of undergraduate education programs including a bachelor’s degree completion program, master’s degree options for those with an existing bachelor’s degree who wish to get an initial teaching license, master’s degree options for current education professionals, Iowa endorsements, and educational strands.

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