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JSU awarded $12 million grant for application to I3


Jacksonville State University is to receive $12 million in grant money thanks to Dr. Alicia Simmons and her knowledge of effective teaching.

The University launched “The Red Balloon” project in 2010. About 30 discussion groups of students and teachers were asked to answer questions on improving the learning experience in their classrooms.

The responses were then evaluated with the hope of finding the key to instilling a passion for learning into students. Using that data, JSU faculty and staff have been working toward becoming a “learning centered university.”

During the same time frame, Piedmont City school system was advancing technology in its classrooms as well, with initiatives like providing Apple products to students. This led to a partnership with the University. News of the partnership spread throughout the community and before long, numerous school systems wanted to get involved.

Soon, Dr. Simmons and her team realized that professional training for teachers should be similar, whether elementary education or secondary education. From this theory CORE, or Collaborative Regional Education, was created. CORE has now been in place for 3 years and represents 72,600 students.

Dr. Alicia Simmons is responsible for the development of the CORE model, which contains six areas of concentration:

*Partnership building, or working with others for a more positive end result.
*Technology that “drives today’s economy.”
*Project-based learning, where interaction is important and getting the students involved can help them grasp the *information. Classroom support and the ability to share electronic objects, lessons, and media between instructors.
*Change management, or “identification of stress areas within a school system.”
*Dual enrollment, which offers high school students the ability to obtain college credits before graduating high school.
*Participation of students as well as staff in trying to be a learning-centered university.

The CORE model was submitted to Investing in Innovations (I3). I3, a U.S. Department of Education program, is determined to help students meet the evolving demands of the everyday working environment.

After reviewing the programs submitted, the Department of Education announced Jacksonville State’s model was among the 25 highest rated applicants, and will receive $12 million in grant money this year.

Dr. Simmons is excited about the work she does at JSU. She says she can’t help but be passionate about her job because she knows she is making a positive change in the community that she loves.

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