September 27, 2006
— Grant Funded by the AT&T Foundation Provides
Training for Teachers of Low-Income Students in Virginia —
RICHMOND — At a press conference on Monday in the Patrick Henry Building, Mr. J. Michael Schweder, President of AT&T’s Mid-Atlantic Region, presented a $50,000 check to representatives from Petersburg High School, Lynchburg College, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
The media event came after an earlier announcement that SCHEV had been selected by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) to receive the 2006 Promoting Excellence and Innovation in Education grant, funded by the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc.
SCHEV used the funds to work with Dr. Thomas Murray, a professor at Lynchburg College, who led day-long computer training for teachers as a means of improving educational technology and learning in classrooms at 16 Virginia high schools participating in the GEAR UP program. GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal grant program that funds partnerships to help low-income students enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
“With the wonderful generosity from AT&T and guidance from SCHEV, we were able to take training teams across Virginia to work with 60 teachers and administrators from participating GEAR UP schools to supplement and enhance their Microsoft Office skills,” said Dr. Murray.
“The workshops were a remarkable success, giving teachers the resources they need to take the technological skills back into the classroom, where they incorporate them into the lessons they teach to their students,” added Dr. Daniel LaVista, SCHEV Executive Director. “In fact, our success in reaching out to this under-served population of students has been so fruitful that we are using it as a model for our continuing work,” he said, referring to SCHEV selection as one of only seven states awarded the 2006 GEAR UP grant, worth $18 million in federal funds over the next six years.
Secretary of Education Thomas Morris focused his remarks on the number of jobs requiring certification beyond a high school diploma, noting that the need for educated workers in Virginia will continue to increase at a high rate of speed. “We need to encourage all our students to pursue some sort of postsecondary educational option,” he said. “Our state and our students require it.”
Mr. J. Michael Schweder of AT&T echoed the Secretary’s remarks, saying, “I can’t think of a more important mission for AT&T. Not only is it essential to provide opportunities for students, it also helps train the high-tech workforce that Virginia – and AT&T – will need in the future.”
Both Lynchburg College President Kenneth Garren and Mrs. Rita Bibbins, Petersburg High School Library Media Specialist and GEAR UP College Readiness Coordinator, were on hand to acknowledge the importance of the grant to Virginia’s students. Also in attendance were Senator Yvonne Miller (D- District 5) and Cynthia Watson, Principal of Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk.
SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. SCHEV received a GEAR UP grant in 2000 and again in 2006 to work with entire grade levels of students to provide tutoring, mentoring, and information on college preparation and financial aid.
For more information or additional photos, contact Kathleen Kincheloe, Assistant Director of Communications, at KathleenKincheloe@schev.edu or (804) 786-2323.