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Officials at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) are excited to announce that NEO is the recipient of a $499,873 federal grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for Distance Learning.  NEO A&M is one of only four community colleges receiving the grant and will be awarded the third largest dollar amount of the 59 institutions. The Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program is specifically designed to assist rural communities in acquiring distance learning and telemedical technologies so that local teachers and medical service providers who serve rural residents can establish interactive video conferencing links to teachers, medical professionals, and other needed expertise. This video connection links the rural students, rural patients, and rural residents needing these kinds of services directly to the source of services needed in their communities, with the local service providers as intermediaries and beneficiaries.  Since 1994, the DLT Grant Program has helped establish hundreds of distance learning and telemedicine systems thereby improving quality of life for thousands of residents in rural communities all across the United States.

Under NEO’s new project, the college will provide distance learning for 9 sites; 8 small and rural schools and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, all located in far northeastern Oklahoma.  NEO Miami and NEO Grove will expand classes for students to participate in concurrent enrollment; allowing them to earn college credits while still in high school. NEO will also provide GED classes via distance learning to enable community residents to obtain a high school diploma.  Professional development for the Oklahoma Academic Standards will prepare teachers for learning best practices for instruction focused on preparing students for college, careers and citizenship.  Resources and opportunities for residents in need of assistance to upgrade their skills and preparation for job searches have been challenging to obtain for some of our rural community members, but through partnerships with Workforce Oklahoma – Miami Center and Northeast Oklahoma Community Action Agency (NEOCAA), Jay, OK the College aims to bridge that gap.  These agencies will assist community members in being self-sufficient, preparing for and seeking employment as well as developing some financial literacy and healthy living skills.

“The College is committed to bringing educational opportunities to the most rural parts of our region and the Department of Agriculture grant provides us the opportunity to meet those needs.  Matt Westphal, a senior member of our IT staff, deserves much of the credit for this grant award and I want to recognize him for his outstanding work,” said NEO A&M President, Dr. Jeff Hale.

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