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Tech & Learning Names the Winners of the Innovative Leader Awards in Orlando

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At the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Orlando, the editors named the winners of the new Tech & Learning Innovative Leader Awards. This honor recognizes exceptional administrators in select regions around the country who are leading innovation in their school districts. We’re seeking district leaders who not only drove innovation during the pandemic, but plan to take these lessons learned to reimagine and reinvent education moving forward. 

Please help us congratulate the winners – and consider nominating yourself or a colleague for other upcoming Regional Summits here. Nominations will be accepted for the Dallas Regional Summit until Friday, January 28. Find details here. Tech & Learning will cover travel for all awards finalists.  

Jay L. Barrett, Principal, AmTech Career Academy, TX 

Innovative leader awards

Jay L. Barrett (Image credit: Future)

AmTech Career Academy is a brand new, state-of-the-art, 235,000-square-foot learning space with nine different schools and more than 35 different career pathways, all under one roof. The Academy has an esports arena, a robot/drone coliseum, and hands-on labs that include everything from three flight simulators to a VR simulation for their law and public service students. Barrett’s team has given tours of their campus to more than 3,000 people this year, and the prevalent comment from adults is, “I wish they had a place like this when I was a kid,” which their graphic design young professionals turned into a bumper sticker. SMART Technologies is bringing a film crew to the school as part of their “Connections That Matter” series because of the way they are using the academy for the entire community. The academy has 1,900 students who come from five different high schools for 2 to 5 periods per day to take courses that lead to industry-based certifications.

Laurel Chiesa, Director of Instructional Technology, Fayetteville-Manlius School District, NY 

innovative leader awards

Laurel Chiesa (Image credit: Future)

As the Director of Instructional Technology at New York’s Fayetteville-Manlius school district, Laurel Chiesa has been leading her district’s student data privacy compliance efforts. Chiesa deployed a data analytics platform to give real-time visibility into actual app usage. Adding this system made it easy for all stakeholders to know which apps’ security policies the district has vetted and approved. Chiesa is also a co-founder and facilitator of the Central New York Technology Collaborative, providing learning communities to 48 technology directors. In the last three years, a main focus has been student privacy and cybersecurity as well as preparing students for technology-based occupations, collaboration, and civic responsibility. 

Christopher J. Lockhart, Director, Technology, Princeton City Schools, OH 

innovative leader awards

Christopher J. Lockhart (Image credit: Future)

Lockhart’s efforts in the Princeton City School District regarding digital equity ensure that students have equal access to technology such as devices, software, and the internet, along with proper training to navigate these tools. Going beyond 1:1 across the district, PCSD has partnered with local apartment complexes and mobile home parks to provide more than 180 WiFi hotspots that can be borrowed from the office, rental centers, or community rooms. PCSD has also expanded the bandwidth of the schools’ networks to extend to outdoor parking lots. Parents and students can park in a lot so students can download their lessons to their computer hard drive. The Princeton Mobile Book Center also travels to targeted neighborhoods, providing Wifi from a solar-paneled bookmobile, and VR devices offer virtual field trips. Lockhart also offers tech tips for staff, parents, and students, and working with community partners, offers a “Keeping Students Safe Online” seminar to parents. 

Charles Newsome, IT Site Support Services Manager, The School District of Manatee County, FL 

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What Do the Midterm Election Results Mean for Education?

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Everything about elections has been weird (well, since the beginning of elections) but it feels even more so now. From a surprisingly large contingent of the U.S. (40% (opens in new tab)!) that believes the last presidential election was stolen to polls that are no longer accurate at predicting who will win, it has been a wild ride. 

This election pollsters had some numbers wrong (opens in new tab) as the winds felt as if it would indeed be a huge red wave at the federal level. Instead it was a red trickle. 

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What is Quandary and How Can It Be Used to Teach?

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Quandary is a digital space for student to learn how to make effective decisions about moral and ethical dilemmas. Crucially, it teaches them how to research in order to be in the best position to do that.

The idea is to create a game-like experience that is naturally immersive for children. This works well with the simple layout, colorful and engaging design, and varied characters that are a part of this setup.

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Using a Return on Investment Tool to Make Better Grad School Decisions

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The MBA program at the Business School at The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has launched a new digital tool that will let prospective students analyze their potential return on investment (ROI). 

Far more than merely a recruitment method, the return on investment tool is a way of advocating for more transparency and accountability in higher education, says Reverend Dr. Debora Jackson. 

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URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE