Grant will help teach technology
The state formally awards funding to aid school technology; Atlantic
County's program will soon be ready to roll.
By MATTHEW J. DOWLING
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Teach the teachers technology. That's the plan that was made possible Tuesday when Gov. Christie Whitman formally awarded technology grant funds to counties around the state, including $450,000 to start an Education Technology Training Center in Atlantic County.
The training center in Atlantic County will be housed in a renovated classroom at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, according to Harvey Kesselman, vice president for student and educational support services at the college.
Kesselman helped develop the grant proposal that involves all 24 districts in the county, the four private schools, the county library, the Atlantic County Audio-Visual Aids Commission, the Atlantic County Vocational Technical School, Atlantic Community College, the county superintendent's office and Stockton, which have joined to form a consortium to run the center.
The ETTC will assure that all K-to-12 teachers are provided with professional development opportunities to infuse technology into the curriculum," Kesselman said. "We should see a fundamental improvement in the delivery of instructional material to the children in our county."
School teachers will have the opportunity to learn software program, gain guidance on navigating the World Wide Web and experiment with new development in interactive television distance learning.
The goal is that teachers will be able to use those lessons to teach their students, Kesselman said.
Kesselman said the county has been preparing for months for Tuesday's official announcement because the consortium wants the center to begin training people as soon as possible.
"We want folks involved in the training right away," Kesselman said. "We didn't want to start slowly. Our center is ready; we're ordering furniture and computers as we speak." Kesselman said the center hopes to have its first batch of trainees - the district superintendents from around the county - by late July or early August. In addition, the center has already selected a director, Anu Vedantham, to run the programs.
"We've already hired a director, we've already done a needs-assessment survey," Kesselman said. "We did it all in preparing the proposal. Atlantic County, since the beginning, has been confident we would succeed in getting the grant."
The $450,000 grant will be spread over a three-year period. The training center will receive $200,000 the first year, $150,000 the next, and $100,000 in the final year.
Kesselman said the plan is to make the center self-sufficient by the end of the third year. The members of the consortium have already approved a $1.50 per student surcharge to supplement the funding for the first three years.
Kesselman said the center should serve as an introductory course for teachers, who can then learn more through Stockton's recently approved Masters of Arts in Instructional Technology Program.
The training center will also aid the districts in purchasing new equipment for individual schools. Its primary function, though, will be training teachers, Kesselman said.
"Part of the role of the ETTC is to be a clearing house on which technology is available and what are the best prices," Kesselman said. "The whole point of this thing is to teach the teachers."