SANTA FE, N.M. — June 6, 2007 — New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish today announced the state’s partnership with Microsoft Corp. to transform schools into catalysts for economic opportunity in several rural communities. The joint effort will benefit 10 school districts in rural New Mexico: Fort Sumner Municipal Schools, Mosquero Municipal Schools, Loving Municipal Schools and the seven districts of the Northwest Regional Education Cooperative #2 consortium (Chama Valley, Cuba, Dulce, Jemez Mountain, Mesa Vista, Peñasco and Questa schools). Each of the four projects will receive funds to develop innovative school and community programs that also support the creation of meaningful work for local citizens in the fields of agriculture, technology, home construction and film production.
“New Mexico must continue to align academics with our local and global economies,” Denish said. “The Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning program is a wonderful opportunity for economic and academic growth in New Mexico communities.”
Under the agreement, Microsoft will contribute up to $2 million in funding through its U.S. Partners in Learning initiative, plus a dedicated Microsoft employee to work with New Mexico’s Office of the Governor and Public Education Department to help each program focus on its goals.
“Sustainable economic vitality and quality of life of any area depend on a well-educated and engaged community,” said Anthony Salcito, general manager for U.S. Education at Microsoft. “These rural communities are not just putting new classroom focus on science, technology, engineering, math, entrepreneurship and work-based learning, they are creating a direct relationship between how well students learn and how well a community works. That is an inventive and important cultural bond that Microsoft strongly supports, and it shows great potential to bring new and sustainable social and economic opportunities to all of New Mexico’s citizens.”
“Real-world relevance and community involvement are critical to successful education systems,” said New Mexico Secretary of Education Veronica García. “Each of our four partnerships incorporates both elements in innovative ways that will benefit classroom curricula, student achievement and community involvement.”
The four programs to be supported by the partnership were selected for their ability to clearly identify how they, together with the community, would use a technology and education solution to address an economic opportunity relevant to their community:
Growing Green in Fort Sumner. With the awarded funds, Fort Sumner Municipal Schools will be able to update and expand its campus greenhouse, eventually creating an effective commercial venture by growing and selling cottonwood seedlings and cactus plants. Fort Sumner is an agricultural community, and injecting real-world, meaningful applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics into school instruction will better prepare students for vocational and technical training or local industry opportunities. In addition, the sale of items and the creation of jobs will help stimulate the local economy.
Mosquero Media Entrepreneurs (ME). ME is a project of the 21st Century Entrepreneurial Program, a “learning and earning” project-based business enterprise incorporated into the Mosquero Municipal Schools’ curriculum. The project will be youth-centered and youth-operated, and ME students receive technology training through a number of interactive opportunities, such as an innovative multimedia educational center designed to draw in neighboring students and teachers. The awarded funds will develop these entrepreneurship opportunities, expand district technology with the purchase of hardware and software, and augment professional development training.
21st Century Economic Revitalization Through Home Construction. With the awarded funds, Loving Municipal Schools will be able to improve its education system, introducing and incorporating trade- and work-based learning into the high school curriculum. According to the annual graduate survey data collected by the district of Loving, only 51 percent of high school graduates continue their education at a college or university. This program, with hands-on work opportunities, will prepare other students for trade occupations straight out of high school. The funds will also help improve one aspect of the community’s infrastructure, housing, setting the foundation for Loving students to remain in the community.
Student Film Technician Training. This project will provide introductory training for rural high school students in the seven districts of the Northwest Regional Education Cooperation #2 consortium. The training, focused on film and movie production, will be delivered through a combination of on-site education at professional facilities and long-distance classroom education provided by college and industry instructors. The instruction will help students develop and hone their technical skills, creating promising applicants who can pursue related employment opportunities in the growing New Mexico movie industry.
More information about the Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning program can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/Education/PiLUS.mspx.
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