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Four partners to share grant funding over three years

U.Va., Three Others Receive $7.2 Million From State, Gates Foundation to Place Technology in All State Schools

August 29, 2001-- The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education is one of four recipients of a three-year, $7.2 million grant partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to train all K-12 superintendents and principals throughout Virginia to implement technology to improve teaching in all state schools.

The Gates Foundation provided a $3.6 million challenge grant to the state, meaning Virginia had to match that amount to receive the outside money, which it did. U.Va. plus Virginia Tech, the state Department of Education and VETA -- the Virginia Educational Technology Alliance, a coalition of universities that focus on teacher education -- will share the proceeds from the grant over three years. The project is known as the Virginia Initiative for Technology and Administrative Leadership, or VITAL.

Zahrl G. Schoeny, associate professor in the Curry School's leadership, foundations and policy department, will manage the University of Virginia's portion of the grant. Over the past two to three years, he has developed curriculum for training the K-12 school administrators to integrate technology into the schools as a teaching tool.

"The statewide program this grant will support is an outgrowth of that curriculum," Schoeny said. "We found we get the best results when we take this program on the road to the schools and school districts so we can train the principals and superintendents on their own turf around their own schedules. On-site, face-to-face training over a longer period of time -- in fact, throughout a whole school year -- works better than short training sessions in unfamiliar locations."

U.Va. will work with its other three grant partners to take the training to all school districts throughout Virginia during the next three years. Schoeny says the four entities will

assess the technology needs of each school before the training the administrators. He added that this assessment would include teachers' input "because they will be on the front line actually using the equipment in the classrooms."

Schoeny also said that Chris O'Neal will manage the VITAL grant for the four entities. O'Neal was former project director of the Gates technology grant in Louisiana and was that state's director of technology. The Curry School's Center for Technology and Teacher Education will provide administrative assistance to support the grant.

"Thanks to the Gates Foundation and the state's generosity, we expect that this grant will help all of today's students throughout Virginia to more easily bridge the digital divide so they can enter college and the workplace on equal footing," Schoeny said.

Contact: Ann Overton, (434) 924-1325

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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