May 16, 2007

Virtue Foundation Hosts Digital Teaching Professional Development Conference for School Districts Affected by Katrina and Rita

Friday, May 18, 2007 at the University of New Orleans

Virtue Foundation, a public charitable organization and NGO dedicated to empowering women and children worldwide through education, economic, and healthcare initiatives, will host a Digital Teaching Professional Development Conference in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of New Orleans for teachers in 9 schools districts affected by Katrina and Rita.

The conference is designed to provide state-of-the-art digital teaching skills to teachers and other educational stakeholders participating in the Virtue Foundation Education Initiative, a technology-enabled educational pilot initiative, designed in cooperation with the Governor’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Education, among others, to provide 21st Century learning opportunities for children in schools affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Initially launched in 2005, this initiative was expanded in September 2006 when in cooperation with its corporate partners, Apple and Microsoft, Virtue Foundation donated laptops and software licenses worth more than $1 million to schools in 9 school districts throughout Louisiana, spearheading the development of a state-of-the-art technology-enabled educational model for all students throughout the state.

The conference will introduce teachers to tested software and resources for online classroom activities such as digital storytelling, poetry and narrative exercises and other math, science and English language arts activities designed by the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Education in collaboration with schools and partners across the nation.

The goal of the day-long conference is to provide a laboratory for teachers and other educators to expand on their digital teaching skills and to share the experiences and teaching methods that they have garnered during the initial phases of the Virtue Foundation Education Initiative Pilot. Feedback from the Conference as well as on-going feedback from the Pilot will be shared with key educational stakeholders, including the Governor’s Office, which has recently introduced a similarly-designed, expanded digital learning initiative dubbed: “Turn On To Learning.”

In support of “Turn On To Learning,” Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco recently included a $5 million investment in technology and digital learning as part of her educational package for Fiscal Year 2007 – 2008. The appropriation, if approved during the Louisiana Legislature’s 2007 Regular Session, would fund a research and development pilot that provides laptop computers – estimated at about 3 thousand in total – to two 6th grade classrooms in every school district in the state. The pilot is a collaboration of the Governor’s Office, Higher Ed and K-12 and Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI).

As an NGO with special consultative status to the United Nations, Virtue Foundation’s mission is to increase awareness of prevalent global issues, to inspire people to action, and to render humanitarian assistance through healthcare, education, and empowerment initiatives. Comprised primarily of volunteers, Virtue Foundation is guided by the principle that true global change must begin within each of us-one person at a time, one act at a time.