When schools recently opened in New Orleans this year, Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) Principal Colleen Winkler asked one of her first graders if she could write her name. The child said, “No, but I can text it.” Schools have always been the center of our communities, and there is no clearer illustration of the central role that technology is taking in our lives.
Five years ago, Cisco and the Jefferson Parish Public School System partnered in an effort to rebuild the schools following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. JPPSS superintendent, Dr. Diane Roussel, had the foresight to see that technology could transform teaching and learning and keep students engaged. Just days after Hurricane Katrina, with most schools decimated and 28,000 students displaced, Cisco, Jefferson Parish and partners from the private, public and education sectors came together to help. Within one month, Cisco committed $80 million to create the 21st Century Schools initiative to help transform the education systems of eight districts in Louisiana and Mississippi. Shortly after our employees, through the Cisco Leadership Fellows program began working side-by-side with JPPSS employees to transform the district’s technology infrastructure.
Five years later, the results are impressive. From 2006-2009, math scores throughout the Jefferson Parish Public School district jumped more than 10 points and English scores jumped 7 points. Dropouts are down by half with dropouts recorded at 167 in 2006 and only 80 in 2009. Enrollment is up more than 35 percent.
On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it is important to reflect on the days following that horrific event. As Cisco employees, we also reflect on the inspirational drive of the Jefferson Parish Public School administrators, and the remarkable difference that technology has made in the lives of the district’s students and teachers. We should all be proud of the part we played in the transformation of the district, and excited by the potential that technology has to transform the experiences of students and teachers around the world.
For more about the role of technology in education, we invite you to participate in a live, social broadcast on August 31 at 11 a.m. PT with Cisco’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Amy Christen. Amy will share her insights on the latest approaches to education and take your questions. Click here for more information.