The ORT Kiev Technology Lyceum has become the only school in Ukraine to be chosen by Microsoft to join its small, exclusive international group of innovative Pathfinder Schools.
It was one of 56 schools selected from 114 applicants in 48 countries to join the Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Schools Program, a ten-year, $500 million commitment by the company to help schools and teachers use technology to advance teaching and learning more effectively.
“The fact that this Lyceum is the only school in Ukraine chosen for this role is further recognition of ORT’s leading position in education in that country,” said Shelley B. Fagel, National President of ORT America, whose American donors are committed to implementing innovative technologies and modern educational practices at ORT schools throughout the CIS and Baltic States. “This is yet another prime example of how our donors’ dollars are helping to foster excellence, no matter how great the challenges."
Despite ongoing funding challenges – which have resulted in teachers being poorly paid, the end to free hot lunches and school bus service – the ORT Kiev Technology Lyceum has consistently managed to raise its educational standards, increase student enrolment and retain skilled staff despite the lure of higher pay at the city's other private schools.
Microsoft's acceptance letter states: "The ORT Kiev Technology Lyceum has demonstrated strong school leadership with a proven record of innovation and successful change implementation, and a vision for learning that has already started the school on the road to reform and improvement."
Participating in this project will provide the school with the opportunity to share experience in the use of innovative technologies in education with other schools from around the world.
ORT Kiev's first taste of Microsoft's Innovative Schools Program will be at the Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, South Africa next month. There, the school will work together with five other Pathfinder schools, two mentor schools and a third party coach, which will form the team in implementing the Pathfinder program.
Over the next 12 months, ORT Kiev will be able to access leading educators in fields relating to innovation and school transformation via Microsoft's Virtual University training sessions. Additionally, ORT Kiev's teachers will participate in on-going professional conversations through on-line forums, wikis, and blogs as well as in face-to-face meetings.
The school will be encouraged to work with others in the program to rethink all aspects of school life – from the structure of the day and the use of technology in the curriculum to ensuring that teachers have the space and time to bring innovative practices to the classroom.
The ORT Kiev school’s selection as a Microsoft Pathfinder School brings it shoulder-to-shoulder with the ORT de Gunzburg High School in St Petersburg, which last year became the sole Russian school to achieve this distinction. Microsoft has already given ORT de Gunzburg its SharePoint software. Worth more than $10,000, the software allows users to consolidate intranet, extranet, and Internet sites on a single platform.