Advancement & Public Services

at&t grant presentation


AT&T Presents Grant for Star-Online

Western Illinois University's College of Education and Human Services' (COEHS) STAR-Online program received a $50,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation at a reception December 4, 2007 at the WIU-QC campus.

STAR-Online provides technology resources to WIU teacher-education students, as well as to teachers in the field. The grant funding from AT&T will allow the COEHS to further expand its online outreach resources to student teachers and first-year teachers. According to COEHS Dean Bonnie Smith-Skripps, the enhanced program builds upon the STAR-Online Virtual Teaching and Learning Community (VTLC), which provides interactive self-paced modules or lessons that promote the effective use of technology in the classroom and facilitates collaboration among teachers across Illinois.

"We are appreciative of AT&T's ongoing commitment to and support of Western's STAR-Online program, which provides online resources to pre-service and practicing teachers," said Smith-Skripps. "Through STAR-Online and other outreach efforts, Western is able to further its mission of preparing quality teachers for placement in Illinois schools and for providing professional development opportunities to Illinois educators."

STAR-Online offers anytime, anyplace online professional development opportunities to accommodate teachers' schedules as they learn new methods to engage students through the integration of technology into instruction. STAR-Online staff will work with WIU student-teacher supervisors and mentor teachers in the Rock Island Regional Office of Education school districts in the development of five new comprehensive online modules to support student-teachers and first-year teachers in these districts. In addition to the new training modules, the program will also provide access to existing professional development modules to teachers participating in the grant, according to Rodney Greer, assistant to the dean and coordinator of STAR-Online.

The STAR-Online project originated 10 years ago as an extension of the 1993 Governor's Ameritech Ed/Tech Grant program to infuse technology into teacher education curriculums. Since its creation, STAR-Online has provided resources and services to more than 15,000 Illinois teachers.

"I want to thank AT&T for providing Western Illinois University with the high tech tools that a teacher in the 21st century needs to engage the students of tomorrow," State Sen. Mike Jacobs said. "Our young people are our greatest asset, and we need to promote these kinds of creative programs that will pay important educational and economic dividends for years to come."

In addition to serving Illinois teachers, Western's College of Education and Human Services has partnered with Black Hawk College in Moline and Technology Now in the Quad Cities to further enhance technology opportunities in the region.

"It is absolutely vital for our teachers to instill a love of learning because that gift will last a lifetime," State Rep. Pat Verschoore added. "AT&T's investment in Western Illinois University means these promising teachers will be able to reach their students more efficiently and more effectively."

Since 1996, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have contributed more than $439 million to nonprofit organizations across the country. With its strong giving record, the AT&T Foundation is among the five largest corporate foundations in the United States and was ranked by Forbes magazine among the most generous corporate foundations in 2006.

According to Dennis Pauley, director of external affairs for AT&T Illinois, The AT&T Foundation invests in educational programs that are enhanced by technology and that teach the necessary skills in order to succeed in an ever-expanding global economy.

"AT&T is proud to continue this partnership with Western Illinois University as it strives to use the latest technology to better educate its students who are committed to a career in education," Pauley added. "By making these kinds of investments in innovative institutions of higher learning, we are laying the foundation for a better future for us all."