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EAC awarded grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture

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EAC awarded grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture

By Jeanné Clark

THATCHER, AZ—Eastern Arizona College is the recent recipient of a $405,830 rural development grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant, part of the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, will be used to focus on funding end-user equipment that operates via telecommunications that connect students and teachers (or medical providers and patients) in separate rural areas. The only other grant funded in Arizona was awarded to the Bisbee Hospital Association.

EAC will partner with a number of high schools, including Clifton, Duncan, Fort Thomas, Globe, Hayden-Winkelman, Lordsburg, Miami, Morenci, Pima, Red Mesa, Safford, San Carlos, and Young, as well as Gila Community College, Thatcher Middle School, and Tonto Basin Elementary School. EAC will also partner with the University of Arizona Mt. Graham International Observatory. With the addition of the matching funds of $205,400 from these partners in the program, the total budget is $611,230.

EAC’s primary goal with these monies is to improve student learning and achievement in science and math. “We want to prepare students to be more scientifically and mathematically accomplished, technically skilled, and genuinely excited about math and science, as demonstrated by the mastery of coursework and/or collaborative distance learning programs,” says EAC’s grants project coordinator, Eldon Woodall. “In addition,” continues Woodall, “we want to ensure better prepared and more effective teachers and administrators as demonstrated by their knowledge of the Arizona Academic Standards and subject content in science and math.”

“We’ll also be teaming up with the Graham County Education Consortium and the Mt. Graham International Observatory (MGIO) to provide our students in grades 7-14 with exciting and engaging opportunities to learn science and math by implementing the MGIO Student Docent Program, using a project-based model of instruction,” says Woodall.

He emphasizes that the distance learning classes will also be improved upon. “Through the ITV network and WebCT interfaces, we will offer our K-12 community more math and science courses. We will also team up with the EAC Mathematics and Science Partnership to provide professional development training for the K-12 instructors,” Woodall continues.

“We’re so excited about this grant,” says Woodall. “This, combined with our GEAR-UP grant, will give students around the state a unique opportunity for better education. From better video-on-demand programs to incorporating podcasts into the WebCT classes, we’ll be able to greatly improve our distance learning program.”

For more information about the Rural Development grant, or the GEAR-UP grant, contact Woodall at (928) 428-8409.