TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the goal of preparing local students for the opportunities of tomorrow's economy, Microsoft Corp. is working with the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to implement a strategic digital education initiative across the region. On Saturday, Aug. 11, a "Back to School With Microsoft" event will kick off the activities to train more than 500 local educators as part of the effort to modernize in-classroom teaching with Microsoft technologies, boost students' technology skills, and emphasize the value of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning in preparation for 21st century careers.
"As one of the largest school districts in the nation, Hillsborough County is taking a leading role in extending high-tech skills training and new educational tools to its community of teachers and students," said Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson. "This strategic relationship with Microsoft will help us equip future generations with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in tomorrow's economy as we roll out Microsoft IT Academy Program offerings to more than 214 schools throughout our state."
This collaboration with the City of Tampa and HCPS is part of Microsoft's efforts to help prepare youth for the jobs of tomorrow. In the current economy, science and technology continue to drive innovation while creating jobs, yet a growing number of today's students face an opportunity divide — a growing gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.
Florida's First Districtwide IT Academy
HCPS is participating in Florida's pilot implementation of the Microsoft IT Academy Program, which provides a complete IT education solution that bridges the world of education with the world of work. Together with Microsoft and the Florida Department of Education, HCPS will roll out the IT Academy Program across its 27 high schools and 18 middle schools as a STEM-focused elective for students in the upcoming 2012–2013 school year.
"The Microsoft IT Academy fits perfectly with our goal of preparing our students for careers in the 21st century," said MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent. "This is a wonderful partnership that will benefit our teachers and our students, and I'm grateful to Microsoft and the City of Tampa for their commitment."
Beginning with the Aug. 11 "Back to School With Microsoft" technology showcase, more than 500 HCPS teachers in attendance will have access to 60 professional development sessions that show how Microsoft technologies can be used to support education goals and interactive learning in the classroom. Development sessions range from using Kinect for Xbox 360 in education to supporting rapid e-learning.
With the IT Academy training, educators get professional development so they can stay abreast of the latest Microsoft technologies and easily integrate these technologies into their existing curriculum and lesson plans to meet the individual learning needs of their students. Educators can build their own success, as well as earn certifications ranging from becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator to the ITA certifications that dive more deeply in specific Microsoft technologies taught through the IT Academy courses.
Through the IT Academy Program, students will have access to hundreds of Web-based e-learning courses and receive hands-on experience with the latest Microsoft software and programs, giving them an edge to gaining job-ready skills and industry credentials while still in school.
Shaping Tampa's Future
Microsoft is committed to the Tampa Bay region, particularly to support efforts that will help youth realize new opportunities. Through Microsoft's long-term work with the people and organizations of the Tampa Bay region, a number of training, education and community programs are surfacing, which include these:
A pilot program that will feature the use of Kinect consoles in a dozen HCPS classrooms which will establish the use of interactive, gesture-based learning.
The DigiGirlz education program will provide local middle and high school girls with the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Over the past 12 years, DigiGirlz has reached 19,000 girls in more than 20 states and 17 countries.
Kodu programming and game-development technology will be incorporated into the HCPS curriculum, helping students develop IT skills by creating games on the PC and Xbox using the simple, visual programming language designed for use by children.
"We're thrilled to work with the City of Tampa and HCPS to bring the best technologies to area educators to help students realize their full potential," said Marietta Davis, general manager for Microsoft's Southeast District. "This is yet another important partnership we've formed as part of our commitment to help create positive and lasting impacts in the metropolitan areas in which we live and work. In the Tampa region, our commitment starts with schools and students."
In addition to Microsoft's work with Tampa on these education and community outreach initiatives, Microsoft has also worked with the city on a variety of other programs aimed at making a real impact in the region. Notably, Microsoft recently teamed up with the Tampa Police Department on a jointly funded public safety initiative aimed at modernizing the department's systems used for crime analysis, reporting and reduction, which included an investment in Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server technologies.
Microsoft has also joined the board of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a public-private organization supporting economic growth and development in the region, and recently made a $25,000 commitment to the organization and its programs.
Youth Engagement at National Political Conventions
Microsoft is also working with National Journal and The Atlantic to host a "Conversations With the Next Generation" town hall on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at The Improv Theater in Ybor. The one-of-a-kind event will feature political leaders, policy experts and journalists who will engage in a dialogue with younger Americans and students about the critical issues they face.
Notable Tampa participants include Superintendent Elia and youth leaders such as Brian Goff, student body president, University of South Florida-Tampa. National participants include Chelsea Clinton, George P. Bush and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. Microsoft will also sponsor a sister event at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
These conversations are part of Microsoft's commitment to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. Microsoft's citizenship mission is to globally serve the needs of communities and fulfill its responsibilities to the public. Microsoft programs have a focus on helping youth and young adults around the world obtain the skills they need, and connect them to greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. Microsoft has the unique ability, through technology and partnerships, to make education and learning more accessible and more engaging for these young people.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.