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Keeping History Alive Reaches Milestone

by University Relations

With the distribution of $306,025 to 418 L.A. County K–12 history/social science teachers on February 1, 2014, Keeping History Alive (KHA), administered by Azusa Pacific, passed the $1 million mark. After nine years of funding individual teachers with grants of $250–$850, the program’s gifts now total $1,371,866. KHA funding, which stems from various Los Angeles County foundations, supports history and social science education and enriches students’ learning opportunities.

Teachers representing L.A. County’s 80 school districts (including public, private, and parochial schools) apply for the grants each fall and receive checks by February 1. Awards help fund classroom resources, field trips, on-campus presentations, and professional development opportunities, opening doors for students and teachers to experience new and creative approaches to education. Over the years, teachers have used the funds to upgrade their classrooms with equipment such as digital projectors, document cameras, iPads, computers, maps, books, DVDs, and music; take students to museums, historical sites, re-enactments, and performances; bring special events to their campuses; and attend summer research institutes, conferences, workshops, and other enrichment opportunities.

Previously guided by the Historical Society of California, the program now operates through Azusa Pacific University. “This program has flourished at APU,” said Thomas F. Andrews, Ph.D., history professor and research historian for Special Collections who has directed the effort since its inception at both institutions. “And it has done so during some very tough economic times for teachers, students, and schools throughout California. In some ways, it’s been a godsend, encouraging and supporting the teaching of history during these recent years of drastic cuts in education budgets.”

Local Azusa teachers benefit greatly from KHA through the generosity of the Canyon City Foundation and assistance from the Webster Foundation. Grants for these teachers total more than $100,000 since 2008. Julie McGough, fifth-grade teacher at Victor Hodge Elementary School, nine-time recipient of the grant, and 1 of the state’s top 11 Teacher of the Year finalists, relies on the funds to supplement her curriculum. “Our school doesn’t have abundant resources,” she said. “KHA grants make all the difference to our students by allowing us to keep education exciting and relevant. Because of KHA, I have been able to facilitate special assemblies, take students to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Early American Heritage Tour, and purchase technology for the classroom such as document cameras, projectors, and laptops. This year, the grant funded Time for Kids magazine for 200 students weekly.”

This much-needed support for local schools enters its 10th year in 2014, with strong momentum and new leadership. After nurturing the program through his passion for people, history, and education, Andrews handed the reigns off to David Landers, assistant professor of University Libraries and director of education and community outreach. His 15 years of experience teaching and training K–12 history educators position Landers as an ideal director for KHA. “With the new Common Core in effect, instruction moves from a standards-based approach to a more innovative, hands-on concept,” said Landers. “KHA partners with teachers to make this type of education possible by funding creative techniques and practices that utilize primary sources and unique curricula that resonate with kinesthetic learners. I hope to build on the success of my esteemed colleagues and continue their vision to expand this opportunity to more schools and more teachers in the years to come.”

Originally published in the Summer '14 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).