Apple Computers reigned in as partner for Miami school e-courses
By Mindy Hagen
Officials for Miami-Dade Public Schools have teamed with Apple Computers Inc. to pilot a two-year course in Web design and electronic publishing in 12 area high schools.
Graduates from the program, said promoters, can be designated as nationally certified Apple Web-masters, allowing them to enter the job market as information technology professionals.
Courses will begin locally in September with a goal that Apple will offer it nationally in the future, said Christine Master, head of instructional technology for Miami-Dade schools. Ms. Master said between 500 and 1,000 students will participate this year.
"This is a win-win for students, the business community here and Apple," Ms. Master said. "Apple will have a product to go nationally with and the business community will be getting more capable job applicants."
The high schools selected to have students participate are American, Goleman, Norland , North Miami, Design & Architecture Senior High, Miami Central, Booker T. Washington, Coral Gables, Holmes Braddock, Killian, South Dade and Southridge.
"We looked at the qualifications and expertise of the school's computer teacher in creating Web pages and the commitment of the principal to the program," Ms. Master said. "School leadership is crucial."
Stacey Mancuso, principal at Design & Architecture Senior High School, said the course will give students an advantage in the information technology industry.
"This will make our students more marketable in industry-related internships and jobs," Ms. Mancuso said. "Students will have the opportunity to work at a higher level, not just a base-line position."
Members of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce One Community One Goal initiative, who have targeted information technology as an important sector of growth for Miami, said allowing students to get Web-master certifications can be an immediate job-finding aid.
"This program does not eliminate the idea of college, but helps the graduating students," said Alina Nunez, information technology and telecommunications liaison for One Community One Goal. "This is a specialized program to teach the students how to better suit the business community."
For the program, Miami-Dade schools is to pay $500,000 to outfit 12 labs with discounted Macintosh G4s. Apple has developed the curriculum and training program for current teachers and offers online mentoring and onsite evaluations.
Ms. Master said school officials were searching for a company interested in developing a Web-based curriculum when they met Apple representatives. She said many Apple executives were involved in the planning process, including David Dwyer, director of education technology.
Apple executives declined to comment on the course because it is a pilot program.
Gabriel Salgado, North Miami Senior High administrative assistant to the principal, said the partnership with the company is a strong indication that educators realize a need and to train students for that purpose.
"This Web-based curriculum will lead young people to a certain future," Mr. Salgado said. "At North Miami we try to be progressive and develop skills not only for the short term. This program offers another dimension to the schools focusing on where the future is."