By guest blogger Lydia Smyers, Senior Director of US Education
Last night we watched as the Scripps National Spelling Bee Co-Champions spelled their way to the win! Congratulations to Sriram Hathwar from Painted Post, New York and Ansun Sunjoe, of Fort Worth, Texas, on persevering to the end. Microsoft is honored to be the exclusive technology sponsor of the Scripps Spelling Bee.
Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar earned the title of the 87th annual Scripps Spelling Bee Champions and not only was their achievement a great personal accomplishment, but every student from both of their schools is also benefitting from a prize package from Microsoft. Each student from the winners' home schools will receive a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home. We know these Bee participants couldn't do what they did without a great support system of teachers, parents and classmates, so it was important to us to also honor the community that helped them make it to the top. Office 365 Home can be installed on up to five PCs or Macs, and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote -- plus 20GB of additional OneDrive storage.
During my time at the Bee I was amazed at not only the spelling ability of these middle school students, but also their poise and ability to perform under the immense pressure of the national stage. These kids were spelling words like fossiliferous, oppugn, and armamentarium -- words most of us have never heard, let alone spelled correctly. It was such an honor to be able to do something that's never been done before in the history of the Bee, we were able to give all the 281 national finalists a brand new Surface device. One mother came up to be this week and said something that has really stayed with me all week. She said that she could have bought her child a fancy new Surface, but that the one her son and all of the other participants were given on that opening night of the Bee means so much more to him because he earned it through hard work and dedication. And, that is a lesson that will stick with him for a lifetime.
At Microsoft, we believe that technology can empower educators and students to meet and exceed their goals. We've been dedicated to creating meaningful change in education for more than three decades and we believe today, more than ever, Microsoft has the tools necessary to help transform education for the 21st Century. It is our commitment to continue to empower the future generations and to bring technology to students so that they can gain valuable technology skills that according to a recent IDC study, will help them secure a high-growth, high-wage job in the future.
We are proud to have been the first-ever technology champion at the Scripps Spelling Bee. We believe that digital is the future, and through our global YouthSpark initiative we are focused on creating opportunities for young people through technology that will help them prepare for future jobs and become change-makers in their schools and communities. We want to help these top spellers and other youth from around the world to have access to the technology and learning tools to reach for the stars.
We know that programs like the Bee are great ways to build the skills our students will need in future careers.
Where are you seeing technology and learning intersect in interesting ways? Tweet your observations to me @LydiaSmyers or @Microsoft_Edu.
Photos by Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee