SOE News

Faculty members, doctoral student receive grants from Research Triangle Schools Partnership

Photo of Susan Friel

Susan Friel



Photo of Madeleine Grumet

Madeleine Grumet



Photo of Leigh Hall

Leigh Hall



Photo of Susan Kingsley

Susan Kingsley

The School of Education’s Research Triangle Schools Partnership (RTSP) has awarded grants to three faculty members and one doctoral student to support work in Orange County Schools. The funding is for this school year, November 2009 through May 2010. Faculty grants of $10,000-12,000 each were awarded to Susan Friel, Madeleine Grumet and Leigh Hall. Doctoral student Susan Kingsley received a $3,000 grant.

The newly funded projects are part of RTSP’s effort to develop a systemic approach with Orange County Schools aimed toward improving the schooling experience for children and youth in Orange County. The projects focus on: improving mathematics education; helping students become more successful readers; investigating preschool teachers’ perceptions of young children with severe behavior problems; and empowering low-income parents.

Professor of Mathematics Education Susan Friel is working with teachers at Efland Cheeks Elementary School to development an assessment protocol to assess students’ knowledge of core topics in mathematics. The project ─ Targeting Essential Understandings: Mapping Students’ Mathematics Knowledge K-3 connects with a new mathematics curriculum being used in the district, which Friel helped to write. The overall goal is to improve teachers’ instructional practices and inform principals and others about students’ achievement in mathematics.

Professor of Education Madeleine Grumet is working with Orange High School to explore and develop grassroots “community meetings” as a way of empowering low-income parents. The project The Grassroots Parent-to-Community Pilot Program: Supporting and Empowering Parents of At-Risk Students seeks to improve parent/school communication at Orange High School. It will involve facilitating parent-led “community meetings” and evaluating their effectiveness in understanding low-income parents’ concerns and increasing their sense of agency in their child’s schooling. Grumet and school collaborators intend for the findings help guide future program development and teacher preparation at the School of Education.

Assistant Professor of Literacy Studies Leigh Hall is working with teachers at A.L. Stanback Middle School to help them respond to their students’ identities as readers while also helping students learn the skills they need to be successful readers. The project ─ The Role of Identity in Reading Comprehension Development ─ aims to improve student involvement with classroom reading practices, increase student reading comprehension abilities, and allow students to progress in who they want to become as readers.

Hall also received a Junior Faculty Development Award for $7,500 from UNC-Chapel Hill to help support this work from January-December 2010.  

Doctoral student Susan Kingsley is working with Orange County Schools and Head Start sites in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to investigate and describe factors that preschool teachers perceive as affecting their referral decisions for young children with severe behavior problems. Her study ─ What Do Preschool Teachers Perceive as the Factors Affecting Referral Decisions for Young Children with Severe Behavior Problems?: A Pilot Study ─ seeks to explore personal factors, such as teachers’ concerns, beliefs, education and knowledge level, as well as program factors, such as referral systems, eligibility and availability of services. Kingsley is a fourth-year doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Education in the research specialization area of Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy.

RTSP is a collaborative effort in the School of Education that brings together interdisciplinary faculty and doctoral students who are interested in working with local school districts and communities. The work explores teaching and learning across a continuum, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The partnership collaborates with school and community partners to identify needs in the schools and match them with expertise of faculty members and doctoral students in the School of Education.  

In addition to the work in Orange County Schools and Head Start sites in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, RTSP is also working in the Durham Public School district.