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CONTACT:  Bobbie Fisher, Chief Communications Officer, 757.889.9107,

Public Broadcaster and partners to develop online high school

NORFOLK:  WHRO, Hampton Roads’ public broadcaster, announced today that it has received an Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2) grant in the amount of $2,412,648.63.   E2T2 funding is made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The primary goal of the E2T2 program is to improve student achievement through the use of technology in elementary and secondary schools. Additional goals include helping all students become technologically literate by the end of the eighth grade and, through the integration of technology with both teacher training and curriculum development, establishing research-based instructional methods that can be widely implemented.

The grant, one of only five awarded in Virginia, will allow WHRO and its educational partners to implement programs that will stimulate the use of educational technology to improve teaching and learning.  WHRO will use the grant to complete and enhance the Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center, an online high school, as well as to create other educational products.

WHRO, owned by eighteen regional public schools, has leveraged this collaboration and developed a number of successful technology based educational services that involve public and independent schools, post-secondary institutions, the Virginia Department of Education, and commercial and not-for-profit partners.  Examples include an extensive statewide, online professional development service (Virginia‘s PBS TeacherLine);  two statewide digital media distribution systems (VideoClassroom and Discovery Education streaming); regional and statewide virtual schools (Hampton Roads Virtual Learning Center and Virtual Virginia AP School respectively); national award winning educational videos (Net Files, School Talk, and Teaching NOW!), among others.

For the past three years, under the direction of and in collaboration with its 18 owner school divisions, WHRO has been developing core-curriculum online student courses that are modular, instructor lead, textbook-independent, media-rich and cover all of the Virginia Standards of Learning for the particular subject.  Completed courses are delivered to each of the 18 divisions and can be further localized if desired.

Utilizing a plan developed by area Superintendents, WHRO developed and delivered online courses English 9, 10, 11, and 12; U.S./VA Government; Earth Science; Algebra I; and Financial Literacy.  Biology, Geometry, Math Analysis, U.S. History, Advanced Accounting, and Algebra II/Trigonometry will be delivered in June 2010.  ARRA E2T2 funding will allow the acceleration and completion of nine courses including Astronomy; Chemistry; World Geography; World History I and II; Oceanography; Physics; Health P/E 9; and Health P/E 10.  In addition, existing courses will be refreshed according to the SOL update schedule, infusing them with additional new rich media elements, and an 8th grade technology literacy assessment will be created.  By September 2011, 23 full-year student courses will be completed.

“WHRO’s roots are deeply planted in education,” said Bert Schmidt, President and Chief Executive Officer.  “For nearly fifty years, we’ve been putting technology to work to enrich the education experience for students, teachers and administrators alike – and we remain focused on working with our school partners to expand our services to the educational community.  Online education is an important reality that assures opportunities for more and more students and learners.”  Chief Education Officer Brian Callahan added, “We’re very thankful for the educational technology leadership our schools have shown over the years, and for the Department of Education’s recognition and support of the collective work of WHRO and our schools – and we’re excited about the possibilities this grant will afford us as we become a statewide leader in online education. ” 
WHRO is a public service media company that promotes education, culture and citizenship to the citizens of Hampton Roads, Virginia through a variety of telecommunications services.  Thousands of viewers and listeners tune in to broadcast programming on WHRO's four public television and seven public radio stations every day.  Since its founding in 1961 to support education, WHRO has employed creativity and technology to serve its mission to enrich audiences through content that engages, educates and entertains.  Owned by 18 local school divisions, WHRO delivers educational and new media services to 286,000 students and 25,000 educators per month as well.