UTC Professor Secures Project Phase Grant

UTC has been awarded $541,805 for the first year of a three year grant totaling $1,700,942 from the U.S. Department of Education to fund Project PHASE (Providing Help to Achieve Success in Education), an educational program for suspended and expelled elementary school students and students at-risk of suspension and expulsion. UTC's grant is one of only fourteen to be awarded nationally, and of the fourteen, UTC is the only institution of higher learning.

Dr. Morris Burnham of the UTC School of Social and Community Services will be the project director. "This program addresses the academic standing of the student as well as the related home-issues," Burnham said. "This is another example of UTC's involvement in the community in a serious issue."

Prior to making application for the grant, efforts in curtailing truancy in elementary schools were already underway. Vicki James, executive director of the Hamilton County Community Services Agency (CSA), first approached the University when CSA secured a Benwood Foundation grant to finance those efforts.

"CSA started the ball rolling with the Benwood Grant. We went to the University and wanted it to be a partner in this effort," James said.

The program director of Project PHASE, Brenda Simmons, formerly of the UTC College of Education and Applied Professional Studies, has been hiring tutors, support staff and sight supervisors to oversee services. Those services include:

  • In-school suspension: if a student is suspended for ten days or less, they are isolated from classmates at the school, and a tutor, working from the teachers' lesson plans, oversees their work.
  • Expulsion: if a student is expelled in a long-term situation, a tutor is provided to work with the student at home, and the tutor delivers and picks up completed assignments.
  • Truancy: if a student is absent five days or more, the child is referred to a social worker who then files the name informally with juvenile court. Judge Suzanne Bailey is working with Project PHASE on this component.

Parents of students being assisted in Project PHASE are required to spend volunteer time at the school.

Project PHASE is being introduced at six elementary schools: Clifton Hills, East Lake, East Side, Mary Ann Garber, Hardy and Orchard Knob.

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