A contingent of more than 36
Oklahoma public education officials recently spent part of their
workweek discovering new techniques to help prepare their students
for the 21st century
It was all part of the Oklahoma State GEAR UP Leadership Institutes held at Oklahoma City Community College. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and OneNet, Oklahoma's telecommunication network, in cooperation with JDL Technologies, a Minnesota-based company specializing in school networking, sponsored the events.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or 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, mentoring programs and scholarships.
"As Oklahoma heads into the 21st century, it is vital that our young people are prepared for the challenges of college, not only academically but also technologically," said Chancellor Hans Brisch. "Through these GEAR UP Leadership Institutes, district personnel can learn what needs to be done to provide young people the support they need to be successful before, during and after college."
During the GEAR UP Leadership Institutes, participants focused on two critical topics: external funding and program support, and the fundamentals of building a robust, cost-effective and scaleable school technology infrastructure for the 21st century.
Dr. Allen Schmeider, who helped guide participants in the first institute last December, identified more than $300 billion in resources during the second institute, resources which school officials could potentially use to fund their annual GEAR UP activities. He and fellow presenter John Wilkinson, one of the most successful entrepreneurs and proposal writers in the corporate world, also led participants on how to develop comprehensive, long-range funding plans and write winning proposals.
During the third institute, Bruce Spicer, considered by many as the nation's best and most effective teacher on the fundamentals of school and district infrastructure, helped those education officials who are responsible for infrastructure decisions to understand why school technology structures work and don't work, and why they break over time. He also showed officials how to be wise consumers of standards-based networking technology and how to become self-supporting in network design, implementation and technical support.
Throughout the next five years, Oklahoma GEAR UP will target resources and services to nearly 103,000 students in 180 school districts in Oklahoma. The resources and services will be provided through partnerships among the State Regents, Oklahoma colleges and universities, middle schools, community-based organizations and businesses.
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.