Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tubman Museum Creates State-of-the-Art Classroom with $150,000 Grant from AT&T

The AT&T Foundation, the philanthropy arm of AT&T*, has awarded a $150,000 grant to the Tubman African American Museum to create a new classroom which will utilize the latest technology to extend the Museum’s educational outreach both inside and outside of the facility. When the new 49,000 square-foot museum on Cherry Street is completed, all of the equipment and technology featured in the AT&T classroom will be transferred to the new classrooms.

The Tubman African American Museum is an internationally recognized institution and an important cultural and educational resource for the area. Educating people about African American art, history, culture and the promotion of harmony among all races is the mission of the Museum. In pursuit of this mission, the Tubman Museum offers a diverse spectrum of educational programs, including Children in the Arts after-school and weekend classes; student workshops for third and fifth graders in language and math; and the state’s only African American Heritage Summer Camps for youth, ages 7 to 12.

The grant will be used to join and convert two upstairs exhibit galleries into one large Art, History, and Technology Classroom where students, teachers, and museum educators can utilize on-site laptop computers, wireless internet access, multi-media projectors and screens, digital video cameras and video editing equipment and software to create a fully-immersive exploration of the importance and impact of African American art, history, and culture.

The Tubman Museum is working closely with the IT professionals and educators of the Bibb County school system, along with the school systems of Monroe and Houston, to ensure that the most appropriate software and hardware is being selected for this high technology classroom. Formed by the Tubman Museum, this Technology Committee is made up of six IT Professionals representing over 90 years of combined experience in the field of computer technology and communications. Members of this committee include Josh Epps, Director of Information Technology with Fickling & Company and Chair of the committee, Rob Betzel, President of Infinity Network Solutions, Thane Good, Director of Field Services with Cox Communications, Julie Christopher, Chief Information Officer with the Bibb County Board of Education, Wally Reeves, Technology Director with the Houston County Board of Education, and Neil Rigole, Director of Instructional Technology with the Monroe County Board of Education.

The new technology will not only enable Tubman to enhance current educational offerings within the museum setting, but will also allow the Museum to introduce a critical new element to its educational programming-distance learning. Distance learning will enable the Museum to expand its audience, bringing the museum culture and the benefits of an arts education to students and teachers throughout Middle Georgia and the state of Georgia.

“This announcement is the perfect example of our community coming together to make education the top priority. The funding that AT&T is putting into this high technology classroom is wonderful news! Bibb County School District became involved in this project by helping the Tubman to identify the best educational tools that will compliment those that students use in the school classroom and at the museum. This new classroom is a wonderful learning environment that will benefit our community,” stated Sharon Patterson, Superintendent for the Bibb County School System.

“We’re respectful and supportive of our own diverse workforce, and we’ve invested to create programs to support diversity in our customers and partners. We will continue to invest time, talent and resources to strengthen our communities by supporting underserved populations and promoting education programs that create economic opportunity”, said Terry Smith, AT&T Regional Manager-Regulatory and External Affairs –Georgia.

“This generous gift from the AT&T Foundation will not only help us create a much needed, state-of-the art classroom space in our current facility where students both onsite and through distance learning can learn more about African American art, history, and culture, but it will also help us transition this high-tech educational equipment and capabilities to even larger classrooms when we open our new, 49,000 square-foot museum. This grant is a gift that will keep on giving, helping us to dramatically expand the impact, outreach, and unique educational offerings of the Tubman African American Museum”, shared Dr. Andy Ambrose, Executive Director for the Tubman Museum.

“This announcement is great news for the Tubman African American Museum,” said Chambliss. “This facility serves the community as an educational and cultural resource, not only for Macon, but the entire state. I’m pleased to offer my support for the Tubman Museum as it continues to provide additional opportunities to study and explore African American art, history and culture,” shared Senator Saxby Chambliss.

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