$500,000 Planned Gift From Alumna To Create Community Partnership

Creating a community partnership to benefit Purdue University education majors is the purpose of a $500,000 planned gift from alumna Leah Wasburn-Moses (BA ’97, MSEd ’99), professor of educational psychology at Miami University (Ohio). The gift will fund, in perpetuity, Campus Mentors, a nationally recognized program that creates hundreds of valuable field placements for future teachers while also raising the achievement of youth at risk. Wasburn-Moses piloted the program at Miami University from 2009-2018.

Leah Wasburn-Moses

Leah Wasburn-Moses

“I’m thrilled to be able to share this gift with Purdue’s College of Education,” said Wasburn-Moses. “Funding a Campus Mentors site at Purdue will impact the community for years to come.”

The Campus Mentors model involves:

  • An alternative education program operating at a university during the K-12 school day
  • Serving at-risk youth, as determined by their academic and behavior records
  • Daily academic tutoring and one-on-one mentoring provided by teacher education majors

“This program provides teaching, research and service opportunities for university students and faculty while exposing young people at risk to the vibrant atmosphere of a college campus,” said Wasburn-Moses. “It is mutually beneficial for teacher education majors and the high school student participants.”

The high school students are brought to campus for instruction and mentorship by teacher education students who, in turn, gain valuable, real-world experience. Hosting it on campus is also a convenient way to provide clinical practice opportunities for the future teachers, many of whom may not have easy access to transportation to traditional K-12 schools.

Teacher education major mentors high school youth

Teacher education major helps a high school youth as part of the Campus Mentors program

The future teachers are trained in methods to support at-risk youth. This training enables them to provide specialized, one-on-one support for the high school students, which they can carry forward into their teaching careers.

“In my work, I’ve seen numerous examples of how intensive care and support provided to students can change outcomes,” Wasburn-Moses said. “I set out to find a way to combine best practices in both teacher education and at risk-education. Campus Mentors does just that.”

The pilot program showed a 40% increase in youth GPA and 32% decrease in behavior referrals. The teacher education majors reported improvements in communication skills and enhanced understanding of the complex challenges and needs of the youth they served. Additionally, the program was recognized as an innovation by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in 2016.

“I’m so very grateful for Leah’s generous gift,” said Nancy Marchand-Martella, the Suzi and Dale Gallagher Dean of Education. “It will be her lasting legacy for generations to come.”

The announcement comes as part of Purdue’s 2020 Day of Giving, an annual 24-hour online-based fundraising event that takes place on September 9, 2020.