Facebook CEO Zuckerberg visits Providence school, meets with Raimondo

Photo credit: Del Sesto Middle School

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The founder and CEO of Facebook visited Providence on Monday to tour a middle school and meet with Gov. Gina Raimondo, Eyewitness News has confirmed.

A spokesperson for the city said Mark Zuckerberg visited Del Sesto Middle School in Providence. Pictures posted on the school’s Facebook page showed him and his wife, Priscilla Chan, touring classrooms in the school in the city’s Hartford neighborhood.

Zuckerberg, Chan and Jim Shelton, their charity-like organization’s president for education, met with the governor and her staff in the afternoon “to discuss how Rhode Island is working to implement a statewide personalized learning initiative,” Raimondo spokesman Mike Raia said.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook couple’s organization, has given $1.56 million to Raimondo’s Office of Innovation to assist with the personalized learning program, which launched last September. The Atlantic has called Rhode Island “a national leader in the drive to put personalized-learning programs into actual classroom practice.”

In a statement, Providence school officials said they knew “representatives” from the Chan Zuckeberg Initiative would be visiting, but were “delighted when the foundation’s namesakes showed up in person.”

“We are proud of the work our teachers and school leaders are doing to personalize instruction,” Providence Superintendent Chris Maher said. “As the needs of our students continue to change, so must our instructional methods, and we are making great progress in Providence.”

The Associated Press also reported Zuckerberg was spotted in Newport over the weekend, and he wrote a Facebook post from Newport Sunday. Later this week he is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Harvard University, which he attended but left before graduating.

Zuckerberg and his wife have been crisscrossing the country this year, part of what he calls a “personal challenge” to visit every state “to learn about people’s hopes and challenges, and how they’re thinking about their work and communities.”

The tour has fueled speculation that Zuckerberg may run for president, but the 33-year-old has said he is not planning to run.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook