Looking Back: A Decade of Progress

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I had a chance today to read Bill and Melinda Gates’s Annual Letter from the Gates Foundation (I know, many months later!). It’s a fascinating letter (as it always is) and I encourage you to check it out for a refreshing read on how far we have come over the last decade of their work: https://www.gatesnotes.com/2017-Annual-Letter.


Bill Gates has always been a fascinating person to me, though I know he is not as popular in my demographic as his partner/rival, Steve Jobs.  But Gates did a big chunk of his recruiting at the college I went to, he visited the campus, and many of my friends interned at Microsoft.  Not long after I graduated, he announced that he would be leaving Microsoft to work full-time at his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  I remember hearing him speak at some point and being impressed by his determination to make the world a better place.  That sentiment certainly came through in the above letter. 

Some things about Bill Gates that you might not know – he started writing computer programs at 13, the first of which was a tic tac toe game you could play against a computer (using BASIC – the first programming language I learned too!).  His parents remarked that he often moved slowly and was late, owing this to his curiosity and thoughtfulness.  He dropped out of Harvard to start a computer company, and didn’t get his degree until 32 years later.  And while he is both widely hated and widely loved, even his detractors must admit that he helped spearhead one of the greatest revolutions in modern history – making computers accessible to the masses.  It is this same computer that allows me to type this email today, that allows me to read that annual letter above, and that allows Impact Network to exist at all.  It is this same technology that makes quality learning accessible to our students, that brings tablets into our classrooms, that creates more engaging lessons for our students.  And ultimately, it is this same technology that will give our 2,300 students the opportunity to learn.

One of the quotes I read recently from Gates rang more true to our work than anything I’ve read:  “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” We provide our teachers with incredible tools – tablets, lesson plans, resources, and professional development – because we believe that they are the best asset we have in the classroom.