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Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders Winners Take Connections Home

The 2015 Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders Competition grand prize trip is coming to an end today, and the 17 winners will be heading home very soon. William Neumann will travel back to Brazil, Diana Polombo will fly to Colombia, and Kepei Xiang will be in China by Sunday, but the visitors will always be connected by the trip of a lifetime. Their success in the international NetRiders Competitions led them to Cisco headquarters, and their experiences in San Jose, California will change their lives forever.

The NetRiders winners took one last picture on the Cisco San Jose campus before heading home

The NetRiders winners took one last picture on the Cisco San Jose campus before heading home

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Cisco Welcomes Networking Academy NetRiders Winners to San Jose

Earlier today, students from 13 different countries met for the first time on Cisco’s San Jose campus. For some, like Odwa Yekela, the visit is a first adventure away from home in South Africa. For others, like Richard Brunner, it’s a simple two-hour drive from Sacramento, California. No matter where the 18 students came from, though, the visit is more than just a trip — it’s a life-changing experience and celebration of their achievement as global winners of the Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders Competition.

The NetRiders winners took a tour of one of Cisco's data centers on their first day in San Jose

The NetRiders winners were excited to visit the Cisco campus and learn more about potential careers in the IT field

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How I Helped Middle School Students Make a Difference in Their Community

stliemThis post was written by guest blogger Stephen Liem, IT Director, Global Quality and Support Services

There is no limit to what education can bring. It opens up many opportunities that otherwise may not be available.

In the past 10 weeks I‘ve had the privilege of teaching journalism to the middle school students in Joseph-George School in East Jan Jose, California. Cisco has been partnering with Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization, to deliver after school educational programs to low-income schools across the country.

Citizen Schools aims to prevent students from dropping out of high school through its Extended Learning Time (ELT) model, which provides after-school mentoring and support to low-performing middle schools. Volunteer professionals, or “Citizen Teachers,” teach 10-week after-school apprenticeships on topics they are passionate about, from blogging to filmmaking to robotics.

On average the schools Citizen Teachers visit do 300 hours less of after school programming compared to their counterparts. In East San Jose, where the graduation rate is at 79%, providing more meaningful educational programs has certainly helped not just the students themselves but also the community.

As a "Citizen Teacher" with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, Stephen Liem helped sixth graders create their own newspaper

As a “Citizen Teacher” with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, Stephen Liem helped sixth graders create their own newspaper

In my journalism class, students in the sixth grade learned how to interview and collect data, how to write an article well, and how to express and publish their opinions honestly and truthfully. Collectively they decided on the name of the newspaper – the East San Jose News — and the subject of their stories.

The results were both eye opening and touching at the same time.

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Blending Learning Pilots Take Off with Citizen Schools and MIND Research Institute

This blog was originally published on the Citizen Schools inspirED blog and reposted with permission from Citizen Schools.

Meeting every student’s academic needs in the classroom can be challenging but is essential to their success. Many of the public middle schools Citizen Schools partners with are reaching students who are academically all over the map, with many falling below grade level.

In order to provide customized support to the highest-need students, we began “blended learning” pilots this year focused on core math instruction. Blended learning, which pairs computer-aided instruction with face-to-face classroom methods, enables Citizen Schools’ staff in four pilot programs across the country to offer more personalized and more efficient academic support during the expanded learning day.

st-math-photo-3-300x300Partnered with Cisco Foundation and MIND Research Institute, the blending learning math program utilizes Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math instructional software to focus on improving students’ math skills, with the aim of increasing student proficiency for long-term success.

Launched this September, over 350 students are utilizing the ST Math instructional software at four schools across the country. And after 3 months of implementing the pilots, the initial feedback and support from our school partners is positive.

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Millions of Girls Face Barriers to Getting an Education. How Can We Help?

Right now, 66 millions of girls around the world dream of going to school.

Educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation, yet millions of girls aren’t in school. Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children, and their families and communities thrive.

Yet millions of girls around the world face barriers to education that boys do not. Removing barriers such as early marriage, gender-based violence, domestic slavery and sex trafficking means not only a better life for girls, but a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all.

Lack of access to education for girls is a real issue, but I must admit I often don’t think of it. Yes, in my daily work with the Cisco Networking Academy I am constantly reminded of the lack of females studying IT, and am involved in projects to help increase these numbers worldwide. But I often forget about the issue one step back. What about the girls who don’t have the luxury of choosing what to study? Those girls who just want to go to school, but can’t?

A few months ago I was reading our Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility newsletter when I saw a post about this very issue. Cisco offices around the globe were showing a documentary called Girl Rising. I was curious and asked for a copy. A few weeks later with a group of co-workers in our Barcelona office we were moved by the story of 9 girls from around the world portrayed in the video.

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