Hartford Public Schools to Expand Blended Learning With $450,000 Grant from Nellie Mae Foundation

Spotlight on Excellence     Issue 25     April 2013

Hartford Public Schools to Expand Blended Learning With $450,000 Grant from Nellie Mae Foundation

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, New England’s largest education charity, today announced that it has awarded $450,000 to Hartford Public Schools to expand the use of blended learning as a way of better preparing high school students for college.
The grant was made possible through the foundation’s “New Approaches In Urban Districts” initiative, which rewards school systems for exploring student-centered instruction methods that extend beyond the traditional school calendar and classroom walls.
Blended learning – a form of student-centered instruction – combines face-to-face classroom instruction with computer activities in which students control the time, place, pace and path of learning.
 
The 20-month grant will, among other things, cover the cost of personalized electronic devices for 200 students and eight teachers, as well as two technology specialists. The district will also hire a part-time project manager and a planning consultant to oversee the implementation of blended-learning, report on its progress and build public awareness for the concept.
 
“We are truly honored to have the Nellie Mae Education Foundation as a partner in our shared goal of preparing all students for college and career success,” Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto said. “I want to express my deepest appreciation to the foundation for better enabling our young people to have an impact on the world.”
 
Hartford Public Schools introduced blended learning in 2010, when it established three Student Success Centers at Bulkeley, Weaver and Hartford Public high schools. The centers, equipped with computers; software programs tailored to the district curriculum and certified teachers, are for students to make use of as needed.
 
The Nellie Mae Foundation awarded New Approaches In Urban Districts grants to six other school districts in Manchester, Meriden, New Haven, Providence, R.I.; Chelsea, Mass.; and Revere, Mass.  In addition to growing and strengthening a specific student-centered approach, such as blended learning, the chosen districts will be expected to form a network to share their work with districts involved in similar innovations; graduate more college-ready students and use their student-centered approach to meet the new Common Core State Standards.
 
“We are proud to work with these districts as they strive to shape the future of learning by implementing more personalized and tailored approaches,” said NMEF President and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue. “Our hope is that these grants will help these communities reshape educational opportunities to graduate a higher number of students prepared for 21st century success.”

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