New grants funding education research
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Several research associate grants named in honor of Texas educators have recently been created within the SFA Department of Elementary Education.

A fund established by the James I. Perkins Family Foundation is distributing grants each year in memory of three Perkins family members, all former educators. James I. Perkins' sister, Marylyn Perkins Buie, served as assistant dean of women at the University of Houston and taught in the Houston Independent School District. His cousin, Wilma Perkins Jorgensen, was a principal and teacher in the Houston ISD. And his mother, Morinne T. Perkins, was a high school English, speech and drama teacher in Tyler, Waco and Seymour.

The first three Perkins Family Foundation grants were distributed to five faculty members. Receiving the Marylyn Perkins Buie grant is elementary education instructor Claudia Whitley. She is using the grant to study how the dispositions of teacher candidates are identified and assessed by colleges and universities and how they are impacted in teacher education programs.

Instructor Dawn Michelle Williams received the first Wilma Perkins Jorgensen grant. Her research focuses on teacher empathy, including how it affects students' perceived level of care, the factors that contribute to the development of empathy and what specific actions occur in classrooms of teachers with high levels of empathy.

The Morrine T. Perkins grant was awarded to Dr. Jeanie Gresham, Dr. Carolyn Davis and Dr. Kimberly Welsh, all assistant professors of elementary education. Their study examines the distinguishing practices leading to exemplary student performance at the SFA University Charter School and a review of lab settings in the College of Education serving early childhood students.

Two additional research grants for elementary education faculty members were established in the names of Cheryl Patterson Athey and Jerry Bryce Blackwell. Athey taught children and college labs in the SFA University Kindergarten and the SFA Early Childhood Lab for a total of 36 years. She shared her passion for teaching young children through professional development workshops for early childhood teachers and caregivers.

Blackwell, an SFA alumna, helped develop the Henderson Independent School District's kindergarten program and served as a teacher and principal for 14 years. She was an expert in the field of special education for young children and was instrumental in developing Henderson's special needs program for prekindergarten and kindergarten children.

The Cheryl Patterson Athey grant was awarded to Dr. Alan Sowards, professor of elementary education, to research wetland adventures. Dr. Sandra McCune and Dr. Vi Alexander, also professors of elementary education, were the recipients of the Jerry Bryce Blackwell grant. They are researching the elementary education admissions test and its impact on elementary education majors.

Research grant applications for the upcoming academic year are currently being reviewed, and a new group of recipients will be announced soon.

Anyone interested in funding other research grants within the Early Childhood Research Center is encouraged to contact the SFA Office of Development at (936) 468-5406 or the Department of Elementary Education at (936) 468-2904. Learn more about supporting SFA academic programs. >

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