Mark Sparvell, Showcase Schools Program Leader:
What was your personal favorite memory as a student?
Easy! I remember my Kindergarten teacher, Miss Elizabeth McQuade, took a real interest in me as a ”reader” and gave me access to her personal library of children’s books in her office. I had a chance to skip the reading schemes and tackle real books. I remember literally forcing myself to learn to read while reading the original Tarzan series. I can remember the covers even today. They were a precious commodity.
Can you tell us more about the Showcase Schools Program?
The Showcase Schools are a global community of outstanding institutions which have pursued a vision of personalized and extended learning for all, enhanced by Microsoft technologies. The schools are identified by Microsoft Education leaders within countries and regions who know and understand the context.
These schools highlight the critical role of inspiring school leadership to create a shared vision and establish a blueprint for continuous improvement. The Showcase Schools contain at least two Microsoft in Education Expert Educators (MIE Experts) and may also be part of our Microsoft in Education Student Ambassador program.
Why should schools be excited about the SS Program?
For the schools involved, there is the opportunity to literally, “show-a-case” study around what can be achieved when innovative learning design is placed at the center of education transformation. The Showcase Schools are places where visitors are drawn to from local and national settings to see high-point stories of Microsoft in Education delivering improvements both educationally, organizationally and economically.
Showcase School teachers and leaders are often invited to present at forums and on panels locally, regionally and internationally. These schools are featured in School and Leader Snapshots. The Showcase School leadership team are engaged in an exclusive online community to share best practices within their network and also have access to an elite “virtual university” which intentionally explores research in practice. For other schools, the Showcase Schools provide real-world examples of education transformation and the Showcase School leadership teams make themselves accessible to other schools to visit or to engage with.
What’s your favorite part about working on the program?
Some of the Showcase Schools are known to me previously, and some I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with recently. As school leader myself, I have been simply blown away by the caliber, the commitment, the passion and the innovation these schools demonstrate. These are truly global Showcase Schools that inspire me to do what I do.
What’s going to be different about the program this year?
Well, the scale is different for a start! Previously our World Tour Schools numbered 35 and we are looking at approximately 120 Showcase Schools for 2014-2015…that’s significant. We’re really excited to be shaping a virtual university around the new Microsoft Education Transformation Frameworks and we are also establishing an Education Advisory Board to ensure the voices from the field, the education leads, have a platform at the highest level of Microsoft in Education. This is really how we obsess about the customer at Microsoft in Education.