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Major Grant to Anchor "Technology Academy" for Missouri School Leaders

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Carol Rava
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: 206.709.3100

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri has received a major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help public and private school officials learn to use the power of new technology to improve teaching and learning.

At a news conference today in Jefferson City, Commissioner of Education D. Kent King announced that Missouri has received the initial installment of a $2.7 million grant for a three-year effort to create a statewide "Technology Leadership Academy" for superintendents and principals in both public and private schools.

The project will begin this fall with about 400 superintendents and principals who are now being recruited. Every participant will receive a laptop computer to use during the course of the project.

Missouri is among more than 20 states chosen so far to take part in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's State Challenge Grants for Leadership Development Program. The challenge grants, which promise to reach school leaders in all 50 states by 2003, are part of the foundation's three-year, $350 million commitment to help all students achieve.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will contribute $1.8 million in state professional development and technology funds to support the three-year project. Participating educators and schools will contribute about $900,000, for a total project budget of $5.4 million.

"We believe the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative and the Technology Leadership Academy hold great promise for Missouri's K-12 education community," said King. "It gives us a unique opportunity to connect key school leaders across the state and help them integrate technology into the classroom at every level."

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education headed the design team that submitted the project proposal. "SuccessLink," a Jefferson City-based organization that is funded by the Department, will manage the three-year project and serve as fiscal agent.

The Missouri Council for American Private Education (MoCAPE), which represents private, parochial and independent schools, is actively involved in the project.

Dr. Mark Yehle, director of SuccessLink, will serve as coordinator of the Technology Leadership Academy.

Nine "Regional Professional Development Centers," housed on college campuses across the state, will serve as hubs for participating school administrators in each region. During the coming year, participants will have four days of training at one of the regional centers and one day of state-level training.

The goal of the project is to involve about 650 more administrators during the second year and another 700 during the third year.

"Most administrators are now comfortable using computers to manage the 'business side' of their schools," King said. "We want to help them take the next step and integrate technology into the basic fabric of their educational programs. When school leaders are comfortable using technology as a real instructional tool, they will be in a better position to lead by example."

The project also has great potential for increasing communication and cooperation among public, private and state-level education officials, King said.

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