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Gates Learning Foundation Selects Education Initiative Director

Tom Vander Ark named to lead key philanthropic post

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Susan Durgan
APCO Associates
Phone: (206) 239-0155

REDMOND, Washington -- The Gates Learning Foundation announced today that Tom Vander Ark, superintendent of the Federal Way Public Schools, has been named executive director of the Gates Education Initiative.

"Tom will bring an exciting blend of educational leadership and innovation to the Foundation," said Patty Stonesifer, Gates Learning Foundation president. "Tom will design, staff, and execute the Gates Education Initiative, and his expertise will continue to benefit students in this new role. The Federal Way Public Schools are a great example of what can be done when a community comes together in support of its schools, and we are proud to have someone who was a part of that success story joining our team."

Since Vander Ark came to Federal Way in 1995, a community-developed plan has resulted in increased test scores for each of the past four years. Federal Way has also been recognized for innovative advancements in instructional technology and has recently installed a high-speed network, established technology skill benchmarks for students, and actively trained teachers in classroom applications. Federal Way's "Internet Academy" is nationally recognized as a leader in comprehensive web-based learning.

"Schools today face the challenge of helping an increasingly diverse group of students reach high academic standards," said Vander Ark. "Though it is hard for me to leave the talented and dedicated school board, administrators, teachers and students of Federal Way, I remain committed to the success of students in Federal Way through the work of the Gates Learning Foundation," he continued.

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