REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As World Teachers' Day approaches, Microsoft Corp. is announcing the new 2012–2013 Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder and Mentor Schools being inducted as part of its Innovative Schools program. The 99 new Pathfinder Schools and Mentor Schools from 51 countries were chosen because they have strong school leadership and have established a record of innovation and successful change implementation. The U.S. schools were selected from Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. They have demonstrated student success and are great showcases for how one-to-one computing, rethinking curriculum design, bringing innovation to scale for a district, and creating a climate for technological advancement through professional development can improve learning environments to make a real impact on transforming education. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) "These U.S. schools and districts are inspiring examples of how school leaders can push boundaries and drive real change by captivating students' interest in learning through creative teaching with technology," said Byron V. Garrett, U.S. Innovative Schools program director, Microsoft. "We know technology alone does not improve student outcomes, but schools with dynamic staff like these are models for why we need to scale more broadly. They show others how to undergo systematic change and increase teacher professional development to make a difference for students." The Microsoft Innovative Schools program is an educational program that is part of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Program, a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment to help transform education systems around the world by connecting teachers and school leaders in a community of professional development. The Innovative Schools program helps school leaders transform their school communities into environments that foster innovative teaching practices and 21st century learning by providing the tools and resources needed for greater impact on educational transformation and student preparation. Through the program, school leaders become part of a global learning community and get access to expert advice and mentoring. A key component of the program is for each school leader to build sharable assets and create tools for other schools to leverage. First-Year Participants Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder and Mentor Schools are making the most of these benefits provided to them and are selected through a rigorous application process that includes written and video documentation. Pathfinder Schools have demonstrated a record of innovation that has transformed education and improved student outcomes in their education systems and local communities.