College of Education

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Opportunity Grant

COE's Dr. Foucar-Szocki discusses her vision of what the Mott Grant will accomplish and what it represents


 
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SUMMARY: Dr. Foucar-Szocki and the College of Education have been awarded $185,000 to build the Virginia Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies (YES) program with 13 high school-based 21st Century Community Learning Center programs where they will design, develop and implement a curriculum for afterschool learning in entrepreneurship. Notably, JMU’s own X-Labs will help in this enterprise.


Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Opportunity Grant

by Matt Silver

 

Dr. Diane Foucar-Szocki (or Dr. DFS as she is known by her students) sits surrounded by her awards, books, and family photos discussing excitedly the potential of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Opportunity Grant. Dr. DFS is a full professor in the Adult Educational Human Resource Development program. She came to adult education along the way in her 46-year journey in the field of education.

While pulling out her phone to double-check the number of years, she glows with the fond memory of starting out as a substitute teacher—because teacher positions were hard to come by when she began her career. She then spent time teaching and aiding children with disabilities.

As she grew in her educational experience Dr. DFS studied creativity. Her master’s from SUNY Buffalo seemed to provide great clarity, by helping her, "find my way in the world." From the study of creativity, Dr. Foucar-Szocki found many opportunities to consult and help troubleshoot for various organizations and state agencies. These wonderful opportunities led to her fascination with, and Ph.D. in, adult education from Syracuse. 

Dr. DFS finally came to JMU having previously procured grants for them and consulted there. She was offered a faculty position in 1997. Since that first year, Dr. Foucar-Szocki has won a grant for JMU nearly every year, accumulating a total of $8.6 million in awards. Modestly, she shrugs her shoulders and is quick to mention she is part of a complex network of stakeholders.  For this award, she is the Principal Investigator for the made to the Virginia Partnership of Out of School Time (VPOST), but there is Blair Denson who is the Executive Director for VPOST, and Katrinia Ilnitzki, who is directing the work of the grant, among many others.

However, Dr. Foucar-Szocki is not shy about her vision of what the Mott Grant will accomplish and what it represents. Dr. DFS wishes to see the children of this next generation have the tools they need to succeed. Life has dramatically changed from a straightforward and unchanging packet of information and skills to a vast network of ever-changing complexities. This grant supports out-of-school providers (afterschool programs, etc.) to help develop critical thinking and entrepreneurship in school-aged children. This is an opportunity to complement the model of classroom learning with innovations outside of class. In her own experience, JMU has reflected a beauty and vibrancy of continuing extension and engagement with the community. That same beauty and community engagement may be unearthed by the innovation from these potential entrepreneurs.

Specifically, Dr. DFS and the College of Education have been awarded $185,000 to build the Virginia Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies (YES) program with 13 high school-based 21st Century Community Learning Center programs where they will design, develop and implement a curriculum for afterschool learning in entrepreneurship. Notably, JMU’s own X-Labs will help in this enterprise.

Even after a long history in education, Dr. Foucar-Szocki has kept her passion and humor. Throughout the interview, her excitement and hope radiated in every answer she gave. Her humor shone through when she answered the final question: if you went on a date with the Duke Dog where would you go? Answer: the Eiffel Tower. She hasn’t seen the Duke Dog in a while, so she wants that date to be special. Thank you, Dr. Diane Foucar-Szocki, and thank you Mott Foundation for a wonderful opportunity to help brighten the future of the next generation.

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Published: Monday, February 7, 2022

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2022

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