Webster Univ. receives grant to help local educators with teaching English as second language

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WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – Teachers and students in three area school districts will benefit from a major grant to Webster University.

The university received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train local teachers how to work with English language learners.

“St. louis has been a welcoming community to immigrants and refugees, so that has helped increase the numbers, which has been a great thing,” said DJ Kaiser, an associate professor and coordinator for Teaching English as a Second Language. “Now we just need support for these teachers.”

Webster University will work with St. Louis City, Parkway, and Ritenour school districts.

Teachers will apply for 120 spots in classes for training.

Webster University Provost Julian Schuster said it’s a continuation of the university's effort to reposition themselves and build the community.

“We are going to double the number of teachers who will be engaged in teaching English as a second language in our area,” she said.

Not only will the more than 4,000 English language learners in these three districts benefit, teachers receive their English Language Learner (ELL) certification, will be just three classes short of a Master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and have a chance at pay raises.

“Every time I go into schools, I see every year more and more English language learners,” Kaiser said. “We have great teachers, but they have not received the kind of training that’s going to help them with an increasing English language learner population.”

The St. Louis Mosaic Society and International Institute are collaborating on the important training.

“We want the families here. We want to see students succeed. Without a grant like this, doing it is extremely difficult.”