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Faculty and staff receive LEAP into Action grants for 12 projects

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UNG student Lorena Espinosa helps Lyman Hall Elementary School students with their reading skills. A LEAP into Action grant will help students like Espinosa with reading prompts for the elementary kids.

A boot camp that prepares students to apply for nationally competitive scholarships and a phone app to measure children's reading skills are two of the 12 projects funded by Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) into Action grants for fall 2020.

The projects were selected from a record 18 submissions by faculty and staff in the third year of the initiative, which included an increase in interdisciplinary projects and a large number of technology-based proposals.

"I would like to congratulate all recipients and thank them for the creative and innovative approaches outlined in the projects," said Jennifer Graff, a professor of visual arts who leads UNG's LEAP initiative. "We would also like to thank all who applied and encourage continued efforts toward UNG's implementation of LEAP tools and ideas in our community."

Dr. Annmarie Jackson, assistant professor of elementary and special education and reading endorsement coordinator at UNG, takes her "Teaching Reading and Writing" course to Lyman Hall Elementary School a few days each semester to help support the young students' reading progress. The app she will purchase with her LEAP grant will give UNG education students prompts to redirect the Lyman Hall kids and a quicker method for assessing reading skills than having to come up with the prompts on their own. The prompts are tailored to the specific books the young students will read.

"Because our students only go there once a week for six weeks, three times for reading and three for writing, we have to maximize our time," Jackson said. "We have to work smarter, not harder."

It is an idea Jackson thought of awhile back, and now she can implement it.

"To have the funds to purchase the app makes a huge difference in our work because I wouldn't be able to purchase it on my own," Jackson said.

Dr. Kathryn Quinto, fellowships adviser for UNG, recruits students to apply for nationally competitive scholarships and supports them throughout the application process. Her proposal, which won a LEAP grant, will bring a boot camp from UNG's Nationally Competitive Scholarships office to the Gainesville Campus. A boot camp for Fulbright applications has already been a major success on the Dahlonega Campus with Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement, leading it.

"The idea of building a community based on growth experiences is really exciting," Quinto said. "If students want to reach for something that inspires them, a nationally competitive scholarship is a great way to do that. It dares them to dream big."

Quinto hopes the convenience of holding a second boot camp will draw more Gainesville Campus students to take part in the personal development opportunity.

"The application process is an opportunity for students to grow as communicators, to learn more about themselves, and to practice articulating their goals," Quinto said. "You might not get the first one you apply for, but your chances tend to increase when applying more than once. We have seen that with some of our scholarship recipients."

See a full list of the other LEAP grant winners.

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