Oklahoma public school officials from across the state spent part of last week learning effective methods to prepare students to thrive in a high tech society. The technology-focused executive seminar, hosted by Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), brought the expertise of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, OneNet - Oklahoma's telecommunications network, and JDL Technologies together to present models for creating cutting edge learning environments in Oklahoma's schools.
The executive seminar was designed to help GEAR UP school district officials understand the full range of growing possibilities for using external funding support services to enhance their knowledge base for bringing vital technologies to their classrooms.
GEAR UP is a federal program designed to help middle and high school students better prepare for college. In August 1999, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma a five-year grant totaling $20.5 million to implement GEAR UP activities across the state, including college preparation and awareness programs for students and parents, and scholarships.
"The primary goal of GEAR UP is to help all Oklahoma students be prepared for the challenges of college," said Chancellor Hans Brisch. "The first year of GEAR UP, we worked with districts helping them assess needs and gaps in academics. This second year of the grant we are expanding our services to include technology needs assessment. We know Oklahoma students need to enter college classrooms not only academically prepared, but technologically prepared as well."
The executive seminar was the first in a series of five institutes GEAR UP has planned this year on helping participating districts bridge the digital divide in Oklahoma's schools.
During the inaugural institute two representatives from JDL Technologies, a Minnesota-based company specializing in school networking, spoke to public school superintendents and board members on building schools for this millennium -- providing participants with a blueprint for 21st century learning centers.
The technological gurus, Dr. Allen Schmieder, vice president for K-20 Education, and Jim Volkmar, vice president of the South Central Region, provided participants with outlines to help districts determine their level of technology readiness regarding people, hardware and applications. Also, they discussed the importance of understanding technology sufficiently well to lead, direct and guide its installation and operation in addition to understanding the role of technology in teaching sufficiently enough to provide leadership in teacher education and introducing technology into the curriculum.
"It is vital to the future of Oklahoma to make sure our young people are equipped to compete in a technology-based society," said State Regents Chairman Leonard J. Eaton Jr. "Through the GEAR UP institutes, participating districts now have access to strategies and support systems that will help ensure that their schools have a modern technology infrastructure as well as a knowledge base on how to effectively use new technologies in instruction and management."
Those in attendance included: E.A. Grubb Jr., assistant superintendent, Anadarko Public Schools; Randy Davenport, superintendent, Temple Public Schools; Dan Poindexter, superintendent, Cleveland Public Schools; Gary Pollard, superintendent, Davenport Public Schools; Phyllis Murphy, superintendent, Woodland Public Schools; James Redeker, principal, Frederick High School; and Ernest Copus, superintendent, Indiahoma Public Schools.
Also, Rick Beene, superintendent, Tipton Public Schools; Gene Sullivan, superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools; Phyllis Tarrant, superintendent, Porum Public Schools; Wes McFarland, superintendent, Agra Public Schools; Carl Moore, superintendent, Checotah Public Schools; Stephen Black, superintendent and Darrell Nightingale, high school principal, Mountain View-Gotebo Public Schools; William White, superintendent, Ponca City Public Schools; Terrell Turman, superintendent and Ann Mahler, counselor, Bowlegs Public Schools; Lowell Wallace, superintendent, Strother Public Schools; Charlotte Hickman, curriculum director, Shawnee Public Schools; Barbara Smith, Westville Public Schools; and Jilda Motley, GEAR UP director, Tulsa Public Schools.
Oklahoma's statewide GEAR UP grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.