Enriching Education Majors Experience

February 13, 2024

KEENE, TEX. – The Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) education department is proud to announce that it has received two grants from the Versacare Foundation for the second year in a row. This marks a significant achievement, with the combined total of grant funds reaching $45,000. These grants are supporting two crucial projects that SWAU’s education department is delighted to be developing.

The first project, initiated in 2018, is an after-school reading lab designed to cater to the needs of children in the Keene community. The Versacare Foundation’s support has enabled the purchase of high-quality reading materials for individual and small-group instruction, and hands-on manipulatives for teaching phonics. The reading lab serves a dual purpose by providing elementary school children with reading support through an after-school tutoring program and offering elementary education majors valuable opportunities to tutor individuals and small groups; fostering the development of their teaching abilities. This year, math tutoring was introduced for the first time, further enhancing this program.

The second project focuses on developing a space dedicated to teaching education majors to create original teaching materials. Equipped with state-of-the-art tools, including a Cricut digital die-cut machine, a Cricut Joy, a color printer, a heat press, a t-shirt press, a 3-D printer, iPads and various project materials, this space has become a hub for collaboration. Local teachers, who already have experience using the machines, have generously volunteered their time to train SWAU education majors to use the new equipment. Additionally, the space is open to the community teachers to use for their own classrooms, which has fostered a spirit of collaboration, creativity and mentorship.

Along with the creative space, the Versacare funds have helped purchase new STEM resources, including multiple Lego Spike and Lego BricQ kits, Sphero Indi Education robots, squishy circuits, hands-on math manipulatives and other cutting-edge technologies and tools. These resources not only enhance teaching demonstrations but also provide hands-on experience, improving SWAU education major’s effectiveness as future educators.
The Versacare funds have directly benefited education majors and the broader community, aligning with SWAU’s mission of inspiring knowledge, faith and service through Christ-centered education. Looking ahead, the education department is excited to continue developing these programs.