APU Helps Keep History Alive

by University Relations

A total of 330 teachers from Los Angeles County public, private, and parochial schools received grants this year from APU’s Keeping History Alive (KHA) program, an initiative designed to strengthen K–12 history and social science education.

The program, started in 2004 by Thomas Andrews, Ph.D., professor of history and research historian for special collections, has awarded a total of $785,079 to 1,084 teachers over a seven-year period. This year, the program reached 82 more teachers than last year, including 6 from St. Frances of Rome School in Azusa. Program leaders look forward to reaching the milestone of $1 million awarded to history teachers in 2013.

The grants, which fund classroom resources, field trips, on-campus presentations, and professional development, allow students to experience history in a variety of creative and innovative ways that promote learning and retention more than traditional teaching methods alone. Field trips that familiarize students with their community, computers that provide Internet access, and cameras, projectors, and other resources that make lessons dynamic, combine to make teaching and learning history an interactive, hands-on adventure. “In past years, I have received grants to pay for field trips, a laptop for my classroom, funds for a colonial day on campus, and costumes for our fifth-grade play, The Thirteen Colonies,” said Karen Batista, a teacher at Cullen Elementary School in neighboring Glendora. “The KHA grant is such a great opportunity to obtain resources for the classroom and to use the funds for professional development.”

“History includes art, music, drama, and artifacts, all of which can be found in biographies, journals, novels, and films. By providing a variety of classroom resources that explore these subjects, students get excited about learning and become aware of themselves as historical beings,” said Andrews. “Such a classroom makes students proactive participants in developing historical understanding, including the complexity, mystery, and adventure of history.”

Teachers received their grants in an APU awards ceremony on January 28 that also honored Lee Walcott, vice president and managing director emeritus of the Ahmanson Foundation, with the university’s Cornerstone Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement, recognizing his early and continued support of KHA. Other program supporters include the Helen and Will Webster Foundation and the Canyon City Foundation.

“Keeping History Alive allows schools to supplement social studies programs with a variety of cultural texts and enrichment programs,” said Cheri Bailiff, a teacher at St. John Fisher School in Rancho Palos Verdes. “In our current economic situation, budget cuts have severely crippled teachers and administrators from enhancing their curriculum, but KHA allows educators to make progress.”

Originally published in the Summer '12 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.