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A Michigan-based early-childhood-education philanthropy is establishing a network of technology-based demonstration centers in preschools and day-care and Head Start centers nationwide.

The High/Scope Educational Foundation, an innovator in the use of technology to support the learning and development of young children, announced this month that it will launch the five-year project with a $1.2-million grant from the International Business Machines Corporation.

"Prekindergarten and early-elementary programs are still new territory for computer technology,'' noted Charles Hohmann, High/Scope's senior educational consultant and the director of the project.

High/Scope will identify up to 19 sites to become Technology Partnership Demonstration Computer Learning Centers, which will receive computer hardware and such software as I.B.M.'s LinkWay and Writing to Read. Teachers at the demonstration sites also will get training and technical assistance.

The sites will be chosen from a pool of 1,000 that employ preschool and K-3 educators certified in the High/Scope methods.

The foundation also plans to establish a curriculum and technology-training center in its Ypsilanti home base equipped with I.B.M.'s computers, software, and multimedia equipment.

BellSouth, the regional telephone company based in Atlanta, has unveiled a new service for schools that allows them to automatically schedule substitute teachers.

To use the service, called TeacherReacher, a teacher calls a special telephone number to report that he or she will not be coming to work.

The teacher identifies him or herself with a password. The system retrieves information about the caller, cross-references it with a data base of substitutes, and creates a list of potential matches.

TeacherReacher automatically dials the first potential substitute on the list to inform him or her that a position is available. If the first substitute declines, or is not available, the system continues on down the list until the position is filled.

The system provides substitutes with all of the information they need to report immediately to class, and allows administrators to continually check the status of vacancies in schools. It is designed to let districts customize their list of qualifications.

TeacherReacher was scheduled to be demonstrated publicly for the first time this month at the International Communications Association Expo in Atlanta.
--P.W.

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