LPB gets federal grant for educational programming

Louisiana Public Broadcasting on Thursday announced that it has won a $113,000 federal grant to share its educational programming focused on literacy and math with children at three Head Start locations and three public schools, all in north Baton Rouge.

The focus will be on training educators and parents on how to take advance of public broadcasting’s classroom content on iPads and other newer technology platforms. Beth Courtney, president and chief executive officer of LPB, said at a news conference to announce the grant.

Courtney said the grant also will pay for the purchase of a small amount of classroom technology.

LPB is one five PBS stations nationwide participating in the two-year grant called Ready to Learn. The participating schools are J.K. Haynes Charter School, Progress Elementary and Ryan Elementary schools. The Head Start centers participating at New Horizon, as well as Progress 1 and 2 centers.

ExxonMobil, the Baton Rouge Rotary and the Southern University Agricultural Center are partners in the grant.

Mayor-President Kip Holden, whose office oversees Head Start in Baton Rouge, was on hand to praise the effort.

“You’re making a difference in the lives of children,” Holden said.

Teachers from the seven locations will come to LPB on Tuesday for a training sessions, and a parent planning session is on tap for later this month to show parents ways to engage in math and literacy instruction at home. LPB also offers workshops each summer.

The children, however, don’t appear to need a lot of help when it comes to technology. Five children, prekindergartners at J.K. Haynes, sat on the floor with Nancy Tooraen, technology coordinator for LPB, completely absorbed in their iPads.

Holding her smartphone, Adrian Skipper captured video of her grandson, Jaden, 5, at play.

“He loves it. Anything technological just captures his attention,” she said.

Skipper, a retired high school teacher, said unlike in her teaching days, technology is becoming almost a necessity these days to teach children, since they are so immersed in it growing up. She said she’s come to see technology as good for learning hand-eye coordination.

Afterward, Tooraen said she didn’t have to do much at all.

“They were amazing,” she marveled. “Some of them start clicking onto the apps and doing it on their own.”