UTICA — Utica Community Schools is one of 35 districts nationally — and the only one in Michigan — to be selected to participate in the League of Innovative Schools, a White House-initiated project to create an alliance of school districts committed to innovation in learning technology and significant improvements in educational outcomes.
UCS Superintendent Christine Johns has been selected to participate with some of the country’s most innovative education leaders in the alliance.
The League, which was announced at a White House event in September 2011, was launched in partnership with Digital Promise, the new national center created by Congress to advance breakthroughs in education with technology, and the U.S. Department of Education. Digital Promise is part of the administration’s broader agenda to spur innovation in education and prepare our students – and our country – for the challenges of a 21st century economy.
“This prestigious opportunity is the result of the reputation of Utica Community Schools as a national and state leader in innovation,” Dr. Johns said. “Our district is situated in the center of the automotive industry where we can draw on organizations that are pioneers in creating innovation.”
While innovative work is taking place in Utica Community Schools and elsewhere, these district and alliance leaders recognize that technology’s benefits are conspicuously absent from most of our nation’s classrooms. The current generation of students – growing up with smart phones and tablets – is often denied an education that makes the most of technology’s power.
“We’re here to accelerate innovation in our classrooms and schools, and deliver results for America’s students,” said Adam Frankel, Executive Director of Digital Promise. “This group of educational innovators recognizes that while there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to education, by coming together to tackle some big problems, district leaders, researchers, and entrepreneurs can make a meaningful difference.”
The digital innovation in UCS has been supported by the entire community, which has regularly approved bond issues to support new technology in the schools. UCS was one of the first districts in Michigan to have a wireless system in all of its instructional areas. Recent improvements include installation of more than 300 interactive white boards throughout the district, integration of high definition cameras in select science rooms to allow project spaces to be viewed by entire classrooms, and the construction of Electronic Collaborative Classrooms at each UCS high school.
Examples of building-level innovative UCS projects that feature technology include: the creation of the AdvancePath Academy for at-risk high school students; the Utica Center for Science and Industry and its focus on technology to create career and college-ready students; and an E 2020 on-line math program that allows students to improve skills under the facilitation of a classroom teacher at the secondary level.
UCS staff members have also been honored nationally for innovative practices, including the prestigious Milken Educator and Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching awards.
For more information about the League of Innovative Schools and Digital Promise, visit http://www.digitalpromise.org.