(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

When I graduated from high school in New York, the Internet didn’t exist. Teachers were preparing me and my peers for traditional service or manufacturing careers - jobs that didn’t require advanced technical knowledge. Today’s students are facing a completely different landscape; they’re expected to enter the workplace fully literate in technology, with strong communication and collaboration skills that will allow them to succeed in a connected and global environment.

New York state is making changes to prepare students for this future, implementing a host of initiatives designed to incorporate the development of 21st century skills into the state’s core learning objectives. As a product of the New York state public education system, I couldn’t be more excited to announce one of these endeavors—a new K-12 initiative that will bring powerful communication and collaboration tools to the more than 3.1 million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers throughout New York state.

Today, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), in partnership with the New York State Teacher Centers and associated Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), the New York State teacher unions and New York State professional organizations, will offer Google Apps access, training and support to 697 public school districts, as well as all non-public and charter schools, across New York. We’re excited that NYIT is committed to providing schools the deployment and professional development resources they need to make Google Apps for Education—including Gmail, Docs, Sites and Calendar—a powerful tool for teachers and students across the state.

New York follows Oregon, Iowa, Colorado and Maryland as the fifth and largest state to bring Google Apps access to K-12 classrooms and will join more than 8 million students and teachers that use Google Apps today.

I no longer live in New York, but all of my family is spread out across the great Empire state and I look forward to bringing Google Apps to their local school districts!