Lesa Clarkson (right) with Curriculum and Instruction Department Chair Cynthia Lewis (left).
Lesa Clarkson, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has been named the 2018 President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award winner. The award recognizes one faculty or P&A individual annually for exemplary engaged scholarship in his/her field of inquiry. The recipient must demonstrate a longstanding academic career that embodies the University of Minnesota’s definition of public engagement. Clarkson was chosen from all of the winners from each UMN college and campus community-engaged scholars award winners to receive this highest of UMN honors for her work with Prepare2Nspire.
Prepare2Nspire is a tiered tutoring program that prepares underserved middle school and high-school math students to succeed. The program connects math students in urban classrooms with undergraduate mentors at the University. The tutoring sessions take place in North Minneapolis and provides free bus fares and food to the students and mentors. The students served are primarily African-American, historically the group that has the lowest scores on national and state assessments. Through the program, she has seen ACT and standardized test scores rise.
Curriculum and Instruction department chair Cynthia Lewis says that “Lesa has developed and implemented a program that not only provides students with support in mathematics but also creates a culture of excellence and high academic standards…Lesa strives to provide underrepresented populations with the power of math as a tool for social justice.” Clarkson’s commitment to educational equity and social justice is an outstanding exemplar of the department’s mission.
Her innovative work with this program has been honored with an INSIGHT into Diversity Inspiring Women in STEM award in 2016.
As a recipient of the University-wide Community Engaged Scholarship Award, Clarkson will receive $15,000 and have her named placed on the UMN Scholars walk.