Ray McNulty to Speak at Plymouth State University’s 58th Graduate Commencement

May 5th, 2008 by Adam

PLYMOUTH, N.H.-A strong advocate for education reform and improved classroom technology will speak at Plymouth State University’s Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m.

In an education career spanning more than three decades, Ray McNulty has been a teacher, principal, superintendent, and education commissioner. He is a former president of the Vermont Superintendents’ Association and in 2000 was Vermont superintendent of the year. He served as Vermont education commissioner from 2001 to 2003 before becoming a program director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During that time, he advised states and districts on how to make their high schools more effective. McNulty has also served as president of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

As a professional educator, McNulty has often focused on the importance of early childhood education. To him, this crucial stage is a springboard to overall academic success. “It’s one of the most important investments we can make,” said McNulty. “The effects of early intervention with young children are incredibly powerful.”

McNulty emphasizes the importance of tackling education problems from a more global perspective. His own work has brought him to countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, and England. He says this travel has had quite an impact on him, benefiting both his thinking and his work. “Knowing how other people look at issues is an absolutely valuable tool for the twenty-first century,” said McNulty.

Secondary school reform, higher teacher standards, and keeping students interested in their class work are other key priorities for McNulty. He also warns of a “cultural grand canyon” when it comes to technology in classrooms. Current students, who were born during the Internet age, often use more advanced technology at home than they do at school. “We’ve got a bunch of kids in school that are digital natives, and most of us who are educating them are digital immigrants,” said McNulty.

McNulty points out that some grade school students can expect to live until 2100. With that in mind, he believes that schools must prepare students for a world where the only certainties will be rapid change and increasingly sophisticated technology.

“Learners in the twenty-first century need to have a whole different set of skills—a set of skills like flexibility and adaptability.” said McNulty, “They need self-direction. Kids need information and media literacy skills. Kids need to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. And quite frankly, the system was never designed to teach these skills.”

McNulty holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts and a master’s degree in education administration from Johnson State College in Vermont. He also holds a certificate of advanced graduate study in administration and planning from the University of Vermont.

For more information about this release, contact Bill Laforme at (603) 535-2211 or wjlaforme@plymouth.edu.

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