TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the goal of preparing local students for the opportunities of tomorrow's economy, Microsoft Corp. is working with the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to implement a strategic digital education initiative across the region. On Saturday, Aug. 11, a "Back to School With Microsoft" event will kick off the activities to train more than 500 local educators as part of the effort to modernize in-classroom teaching with Microsoft technologies, boost students' technology skills, and emphasize the value of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning in preparation for 21st century careers. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) "As one of the largest school districts in the nation, Hillsborough County is taking a leading role in extending high-tech skills training and new educational tools to its community of teachers and students," said Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson. "This strategic relationship with Microsoft will help us equip future generations with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in tomorrow's economy as we roll out Microsoft IT Academy Program offerings to more than 214 schools throughout our state." This collaboration with the City of Tampa and HCPS is part of Microsoft's efforts to help prepare youth for the jobs of tomorrow. In the current economy, science and technology continue to drive innovation while creating jobs, yet a growing number of today's students face an opportunity divide — a growing gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Florida's First Districtwide IT Academy HCPS is participating in Florida's pilot implementation of the Microsoft IT Academy Program, which provides a complete IT education solution that bridges the world of education with the world of work. Together with Microsoft and the Florida Department of Education, HCPS will roll out the IT Academy Program across its 27 high schools and 18 middle schools as a STEM-focused elective for students in the upcoming 2012–2013 school year. "The Microsoft IT Academy fits perfectly with our goal of preparing our students for careers in the 21st century," said MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent. "This is a wonderful partnership that will benefit our teachers and our students, and I'm grateful to Microsoft and the City of Tampa for their commitment." Beginning with the Aug. 11 "Back to School With Microsoft" technology showcase, more than 500 HCPS teachers in attendance will have access to 60 professional development sessions that show how Microsoft technologies can be used to support education goals and interactive learning in the classroom. Development sessions range from using Kinect for Xbox 360 in education to supporting rapid e-learning. With the IT Academy training, educators get professional development so they can stay abreast of the latest Microsoft technologies and easily integrate these technologies into their existing curriculum and lesson plans to meet the individual learning needs of their students. Educators can build their own success, as well as earn certifications ranging from becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator to the ITA certifications that dive more deeply in specific Microsoft technologies taught through the IT Academy courses.