Reach Out | Engage | Transform A Newsletter from University Outreach and Engagement
Community Engagement Staff Work Hours
Based on a Staff Senate driven initiative to support and promote staff community engagement, Texas Tech has updated its Operating Policy, OP 70.06: Employee Working Hours. Full-time Texas Tech staff are now able to use up to 16 hours of work time, and part-time employees up to 8 hours of work time per fiscal year to perform outreach and engagement activities in the community. All staff (exempt and non-exempt) must have their outreach and engagement hours pre-approved by their supervisor through the Outreach and Engagement Application form. For further information, see section 3c(11) of OP 70.06.
One of Texas Tech's three strategic priorities in its 2025 Strategic Plan, A Foundation for the Next Century – A Pathway to 2025, is to "transform lives and communities through strategic outreach and engaged scholarship." Texas Tech University encourages and supports the active participation of its faculty, staff, and students in outreach and engagement activities that connect the resources of the university with those of the community to advance the quality of life and well-being of its citizens.
Planning for 2021 summer camps is well underway at Texas Tech! Though plans and guidelines are still being developed in light of Covid-19, you can visit our website at summercamps.ttu.edu to stay in-the-know about upcoming summer opportunities for K-12 students in our region.
2021 Discoveries to Impact Conference
The 2021 Discoveries to Impact (DTI) conference, which took place March 29-31, 2021, was a great success with over 800 individuals participating! The annual event brought together faculty, staff, students, and the community to showcase research, engagement, innovation, and business startups. It also provided attendees the opportunity to hear from numerous thought leaders, intriguing panelists, and dynamic innovators.
Jan Bednar, founder of the e-commerce company ShipMonk, served as the keynote speaker on Day 1 of DTI's Accelerator Competition, providing a fascinating recount of his journey from immigrant college student to Founder and CEO of a company that has grown from $130,000 in sales in 2014 to over $145M in 2020. On Day 3, keynote speaker Courtney Griesel, who serves as the Economic Development Director of the City of Springfield, Oregon, highlighted "The Role of Universities in Building Resilient Communities" as part DTI's Engaged Scholarship Symposium. The Symposium also featured the faculty recipients of the 2021 Presidents' Engaged Scholarship Awards, who together with involved students and community partners, discussed their university-community collaborations and the impacts that their engagement is having on communities and scholarship.
“Each year, the Discoveries to Impact Conference presents some of the extraordinary talent of our students, faculty, and staff."[...] “I am very proud of the dedication of all involved and look forward to this event resuming on campus in the future.”
On April 8, 2021, University Outreach and Engagement hosted its first ever virtual Open House for TTU faculty and staff who were interested in learning more about outreach and engaged scholarship, and ways of integrating this form of scholarship into their teaching, research, or creative activities. The staff also shared information about the resources and services available through the office and answered participants' questions. Close to 30 individuals participated in the event. If you missed out on this opportunity and would like to add your name to our next virtual open house list of attendees, please contact us! We also invite you to submit any questions you may have about our office or ways of engaging with communities. Or simply request a meeting with us. We are here to assist! Our offices are located on the 3d Floor of Drane Hall.
Even though Texas Tech’s five-year, $24.5 million “Promise Neighborhood” grant from the U.S. Department of Education ended in 2019, several of the activities that began under the grant are continuing and new ones have emerged. The following provides an overview of some of the work that goes on following the original “East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN)" Initiative which was spearheaded by former College of Education Dean, Scott Ridley, and involved a half-dozen TTU colleges and departments, as well as over 70 regional partners.
Pave the Way to Pre-K
Pave the Way to Pre-K is an East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood early learning collaboration between Texas Tech faculty, students, and Lubbock ISD. Children entering preschool at Alderson, Ervin, and Hodges Elementary Schools attend a half-day, three-week summer program to support school readiness before the school year begins. This program focuses on language and literacy, familiarity with classroom routines, and relationships between parents, children, and teachers so that children are ready to learn when school starts. Children have breakfast and lunch and take home a book and an educational activity each day of the program to promote family engagement in learning over the summer.
The program was designed by Drs. Stephanie Shine and Michael McCarty in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at Texas Tech in collaboration with LISD preschool teachers and was first offered in 2016. Results showed that even after just a few weeks, children gained knowledge of concepts associated with school preparedness but also that children became accustomed to school routines and were acclimated to the classroom, gym, and cafeteria when school started. Teachers note that the summer program gives children "a taste of what they are going to experience so when they start school, they already know what’s expected of them.” Interestingly, preschoolers who had attended the program shared their knowledge with other preschoolers, leading to a smooth start of the year and increased learning time in the classroom.
The program was not offered in classrooms in the summer of 2020 due to the global pandemic, but plans are gearing up for the summer of 2021. Pave the Way to Pre-K will take place this year from June 7-24, Monday-Thursday each week, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. View the event flyer to learn more.
Ready to Read
Ready to Read, one of the earliest programs of the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood initiative, was developed for the youngest members of the community. Consisting of communal read-alouds for young children and their families, Ready to Read was designed to model interactive reading, encourage family enjoyment of book-reading, increase use of the library, and provide children with new books of their own. By focusing on early literacy, Ready to Read seeks to promote school readiness and lifelong enjoyment of reading. During the read-alouds, children and their families listen to stories, sing songs and create crafts. Ready to Read is designed to be a welcoming and engaging family-friendly environment.
Initiated in 2013 by Dr. Stephanie Shine in Human Development and Family Sciences at Texas Tech, the program takes place at the Patterson Branch of theLubbock Library. It was adopted by the library in 2019. In response to Ready to Read, families report appreciation of their children's engagement during the read-alouds, increased reading to children at home, and more books in their home libraries, all of which support improved literacy skills at school. The global pandemic halted in-person programming at the library, leading to innovative virtual programs including video recordings of storytelling and crafts posted on the library website and social media outlets. Ready to Read begins again on May 15, 2021 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at the Patterson Branch Library located at 1836 Parkway Drive in Lubbock. View all upcoming events at the Lubbock Library.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Eta Delta Omega Chapter
Providing Books to Children in East Lubbock
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Eta Delta Omega Chapter is providing books to children in East Lubbock in keeping with the early learning goals of East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN). Since the inception of ELPN, a goal of the early learning programs has been to support parents as the first teachers of their young children. At numerous events in East Lubbock (Juneteenth, Cinco de Mayo, Vamos a Pescar, Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving), ELPN provided books for families to take home and read with their young children, distributing thousands of picture books. When public events were canceled due to COVID-19, this distribution of books was temporarily halted. However, the Eta Delta Omega Chapter is adapting a new approach and making plans to distribute books into the hands of children. The Eta Delta Omega Chapter has researched and selected high-quality, culturally appropriate and age-appropriate books for children in preschool through fifth grade and plans to distribute these to children as soon as guidelines permit. Having these books to read at home promotes parent-child reading, love of books, and school success.
CISER's Virtual STEM Club
The Center for the Integration of STEM Education and Research (CISER) at Texas Tech's College of Education works with local and surrounding area schools to host after school STEM clubs. These clubs are intended to increase student exposure to the STEM disciplines by providing opportunities to participate in hands-on, engaging activities that spark student interest in STEM topics.
Due to COVID-19, CISER adapted its STEM Club into a virtual format so that students and club leaders could have a meaningful experience while remaining safe during the pandemic. Alderson Elementary was eager to provide its students with this weekly virtual STEM Club opportunity.
In the program, Texas Tech undergraduate club leaders plan each week’s activity and pack Ziploc bags with necessary supplies and instructions that are sent home with students. Students are also provided a video in which club leaders demonstrate the week’s activity. Additionally, a PowerPoint made available through Google Drive allows students to further explore STEM topics relating to the weekly activities.
Once students have completed their project, they take a picture of the finished product and post it on the STEM Club PowerPoint. Each student who makes a post is eligible to win that week’s prize. The goal of the Alderson virtual STEM Club is to keep students actively engaged in STEM in a safe and meaningful way. There are currently 45 Alderson students participating each week. That makes the first ever virtual STEM Club the largest (virtual or in person) club that CISER has ever hosted!
College Preparatory Mentoring Program
Dr. Joshua Cruz of the Texas Tech College of Education is working with local high schools (Estacado and Matthews Alternative) and undergraduate students at Texas Tech to develop a college preparatory mentoring program. The program is especially valuable to first-generation college students who are the first in their families to attend college. Navigating the college environment can be difficult, and while high schools can help students apply and get into an institution of higher education, studies suggest that they do not always adequately prepare students for the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical aspects of the college campus. In short, first-generation students often do not know what to expect when they arrive on campus, and this mentoring program offers them a significant setup for success.
The program provides mentorship to prospective college students to give them a candid and no-nonsense understanding of what it is like to be in the college environment. Texas Tech undergraduate mentors become storytellers, giving accounts of their own experiences in college, including topics surrounding finances, academics, socializing, and the day-to-day life of being a college student. The goal is that these real stories from real undergraduate student mentors will inspire high schoolers, as well as provide them with valuable insight and wisdom. Each story shared by these undergraduate mentors will be posted on the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences (TrUE) website.
A team of Lubbock ISD educators and Texas Tech researchers have collaborated over ways to develop a writing program for 9-10th grade students that is sustainable, grounded in evidence-based pedagogy, and sensitive to the pressures of high stakes testing at a diverse and historically “underperforming” high school. In the sixth year of this work, they have learned a great deal about meaningful professional development, cultivating literacy teacher leaders, and writing methods that close performance gaps through their university-school partnership. They have experimented with different approaches to professional collaboration and, ultimately, evolved into a partnership driven by the goals of engaged scholarship.
As a result, Texas Tech College of Education faculty members, Drs. Mellinee Lesley and Julie Smit, have been able to create a sustained inquiry into the writing practices of 9-10th grade students as well as the development of writing identities of teachers. They have maintained the partnership through teacher turnover and a pandemic. One of the outcomes of their partnership has been to support teacher agency and autonomy within a culture of pacing guides, standards, and district assessments that must be strictly adhered to and where writing has often deferred to reading instruction.
The team consists of three literacy researchers from Texas Tech University, a high school literacy coach, and five 9-10th grade English teachers. Their work began as part of the DOE East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood grant where they were brought together to support student writing development. Over time, this partnership blossomed into an engaged scholarship project where they co-plan and design research that is meaningful to the school and university team, addresses the needs of students, and gives teachers a voice in the process.
Wind Hazard and Infrastructure Performance Center
The Wind Hazard and Infrastructure Performance (WHIP) Center is a partnership between universities, government, and industry. WHIP was established with funding from National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry, with a research mission to enhance the resiliency of buildings and infrastructure to extreme windstorms such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
Three universities including Texas Tech, Florida International, and Florida Institute of Technology are collaborating within WHIP. The NSF provides funding to support the administration of the Center. Private companies, government agencies, professional associations, national laboratories and others can join the Center as members for an annual fee. The industry members form an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) which governs the by-laws for the Center and votes on the research projects to be pursued.
WHIP currently has six industry members: AIR Worldwide-a veririsk business, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, GAF-roofing Company, Permasteelisa Group, SCOR-the art and science of risk, and State Farm Insurance.
The NSF established its first center under the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) program in 1973. A total of 75 centers are in existence today. The research themes of the centers vary and cover all subjects where cutting edge research can benefit the society. WHIP Center will be the only one in the country related to building and infrastructure performance in wind hazards.
The research pursued in the Center is mutually beneficial to the industry, academics, and the government. The industry benefits from the access to talents of faculty and students, research results and intellectual property and leveraging the research dollars. The academics benefit from availability of research funds, insights into industry needs and placement of students. The NSF benefits from the leverage funds for research, networking with industry and training of students.
LAUNCHING THIS FALL:
Texas Tech's NEW Resilient Communities Initiative (RCI)!
Texas Tech’s Resilient Communities Initiative (RCI) will bring together the resources of the university with those of communities to impact the lives of students, citizens, and the community. This new initiative is based on collaborations between Texas Tech University and regional community partners — both public and private — to ensure the social and economic vitality of the South Plains and its citizens. RCI’s concept follows the national “EPIC Model” which originated at the University of Oregon. The model is simple but powerful. It brings together the greatest resources of a university — faculty, students, laboratories, research libraries, existing curriculum — and creatively draws them together to tackle the biggest challenges in local communities. The results are felt immediately with lasting transformative effects: Public goodwill toward the university, real-world learning for students, and meaningful change that is felt throughout the community.
If you are interested in learning more about RCI or participating in future projects, please contact Sam Sumner at email@example.com.
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