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Today, Commissioner of Education J. Duke Albanese released the names of nine schools across Maine that will serve as demonstration and exploration schools for teachers involved in the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. The demonstration schools will receive an advanced deployment of wireless networks, and one-to-one access to wireless notebook computers for several classrooms of seventh grade students. Each school will also receive extensive support and professional development for the teachers in the classrooms targeted for technology.
The demonstration/exploration schools are a key component of the State’s plan to provide training and professional development to prepare teachers to use technology effectively. The advance deployment sites will provide Maine teachers with opportunities to observe, explore and innovate with the effects that technology has on teaching and learning in a real classroom environment. The sites will demonstrate effective integration of technology tools in the middle school curriculum. They will also serve as a test site for the some of the technical capabilities of the equipment provide by Apple.
As part of their commitment, demonstration schools will be open for other districts to visit for an average of one day per week, and schools will share experiences and student products with visiting teachers from the region and at regional and state conference sessions.
The demonstration/exploration schools will be deployed by early March, with the balance of the 241 middle schools in Maine to be deployed by the start of the 2002-03 school year.
The demonstration schools are geographically spread across Maine based on the state’s nine school superintendents’ regions. They represent a range of school size and composition, including classrooms in several K-8 schools.
As part of its application, each demonstration school was required to identify a teacher to serve as a Regional Integration Mentor. Each Integration Mentor will receive a $10,000 stipend, and will work with teachers at the demonstration site and the region to keep the project focused on teaching and learning within the context of real classrooms, help design and deliver regional staff development activities after school and during the summer, and facilitate meetings and problem solving sessions within the region.
Professional development support for the demonstration schools and the stipends for the Regional Integration Mentors are funded as part of a one-year, $1 million grant received by the state last Fall from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support a number of activities focused on ensuring that Maine middle school teachers are prepared to adapt, lead, and innovate with teaching and learning in a classroom environment transformed by universal personal access to technology and the Internet.
Albanese said, “It is impossible to quantify how important these regional demonstration schools will be. Last year, when Piscataquis Community Middle School led the state by going forward on its own with a laptop program, it completely shifted the debate by making the impact of computers real to both educators and policymakers. These demonstration schools will do this in every region of Maine. It is still true that seeing – and experiencing, and practicing – will be believing for our teachers and students.”
Bette Manchester, formerly an award-winning principal of Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham, who oversees the MLTI professional development project, said that the excitement and commitment of school personnel involved at the demonstration schools is palpable and contagious. “Middle school teachers all over Maine are eager to get started; we know that if we prepare them well and they can practice with technology in a classroom setting, they will be able to produce amazing results with these powerful new tools.”
Maine’s Learning Technology Initiative is the most ambitious program of its kind in the world, aiming to make Maine the first in the nation to deploy universal personal access to learning technology for all seventh and eighth grade students and teachers statewide. In December 2001, the Department signed a four-year, $37.2 million contract with Apple to provide notebook computers, wireless networks, servers, technical support and maintenance, and teacher training for 36,000 7th and 8th grade students and teachers in Maine.
Maine Learning Technology Initiative
Regional Demonstration Schools
w Region 1 (Aroostook) – Skyway Middle School, Presque Isle
w Region 2 (Cumberland) – Lyman Moore Middle School, Portland
w Region 3 (Hancock) – Conners-Emerson School, Bar Harbor
w Region 4 (Kennebec) – Maranacook Community Middle School, Readfield
w Region 5 (MidCoast) – Boothbay Region Elementary School, Boothbay
w Region 6 (Penquis) – Piscataquis Community Middle School, Guilford
w Region 7 (Western Maine) – Auburn Middle School, Auburn
w Region 8 (Washington) – Pembroke Elementary School, Pembroke
w Region 9 (York) – Shapleigh Middle School, Kittery