Tell educators they matter. Place your #BammyAwards Vote!

4/15/2013 12:00:00 AM
Educators make their way to the red carpet. I'm in the purple dress with my boyfriend, back right.

Envision a world that values education like it values entertainment. That is the goal of The Bammy Awards. It’s time for The Bammy nominations, a cross-discipline honor that identifies and acknowledges the extraordinary work being done across the education field every day-- from teachers, principals and superintendents, to advocates, researchers, education journalists and parents.  The Bammy Awards were created to help reverse the negative national narrative that dominates the education field.

Now, you, the online community, have a chance to bring recognition to those we know, admire, and respect by placing a vote for the Educator's Voice Award to recognize the nominees that you believe are making a significant difference in the field.  Below are my first round of five nominations. Please take a look and if you like what you read, click that little “vote” link to find out more and vote for this person if you believe they should be honored.  
School Board - Lisa Cooley
Lisa Cooley brings real education change to the school board table. Her position on progressive education and opposition to high-stakes testing and standardization bring the wider world of school transformation to a rural New England school district. She brings her ideas on meaningful student learning to every aspect of school board activity, from the budget, to curriculum decisions, to student expulsion hearings.

Her goals are to bring students’ interests, passions, enjoyments and curiosities to their everyday work at school are why she should receive this recognition.

Vote for Lisa here.  
David Bernstein - Education Reporter
David is a passionate father of two sons both of whom have learning differences. He has become a prolific writer for such publications as the Washington Post and Education Week on education innovation and learning differences. Some of his thoughtful work includes this article in the the Washington Post’s “Answer Sheet” and this from Education Week

You can vote for david here.
Kris Nielsen - Middle School Teacher of the Year
There are innovative educators in thousands of classrooms all across America. Having served as a middle grades educator and instructional leader for six years in New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina, Kris L. Nielsen is one of them.  Nielsen became frustrated as he watched political policies put in place that are strangling the drive and desire for educators to be the innovative class leaders they grew to be. As a result Nielsen was compelled to write Children of the Core written with parents in mind, and with students as the inspiration. Nielsen says, “We--parents, students, and teachers--were promised a revolutionary new system that would narrow the achievement gaps in reading and math, create environments for deeper and critical thinking, and prepare our students for life, career, and college.  What we’re finding is that none of this is true.  It’s all totally opposite.”

Vote for Kris here.
Secondary School Principal - Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann not only talks the talk. He gets right in their and walks the walk...and in some cases, like when he does races with students, he'll run the run to keep up with his kids.

The best way to explain why Chris should be recognized is to share some of the talking that Chris walks in his own words:
  • "If you dare kids to do real stuff that matters, you better be prepared to get out of the way."
  • “Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
  • "I want kids to be "thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind."
  • "Schools can be places of great passion where students learn what it means to be scholar-activists, fully invested in authentic work that matters to them today, not someday."

When Chris is not talking the talk and walking the walk, he is writing about it. His blog ( is a continual source of inspiration to educators, parents, and students around the globe.

Vote for Chris here.
Education School Professor - Mark Naison
Ever since the community history projects he was doing in Bronx Schools were pushed out to make room for high stakes testing, Mark Naison has been taking a stand to end the demonetization of teachers and restore what is best for students, staff, and parents who are a part of our schools. Naison is the funky fresh Fordham University professor known as Notorious PhD. He spreads his message via his blog “With a Brooklyn Accent” (; through his “Teachers Talk Back” listserve; and through the speeches and educational raps he gives at rallies and demonstrations in defense of public education. Check out his “Achievement Rap” which he performed here ( a “Save Our Schools” March.

His most recent initiative is a Teachers Oral History project ( that will document the damage that has been done to public education and  teachers professionalism in the age of high stakes tests.

Vote for Mark here!
Jessica Smock - Education Policy Research
Jessica served as a teacher and curriculum coordinator for more than a decade before turning to research and writing. She recently defended her doctoral dissertation about the educational experiences of African American female graduates of a nonprofit. Currently, her focus is related to the role of innovative programs and individuals to transform education. Specifically she has been looking at what can be learned from models such as home education that empower young people to learn outside school settings which you can read here

You can read more of her work on her blog, School of Smock (

Vote for Jessica here!
Me! Education Commenter / Blogger
I was excited to recently learn that I too was nominated for an award.  Exciting!!!

Here’s what the nomination said:
Lisa Nielsen thinks in very liberated and liberating ways about education. She pushes the envelope in the area of reinventing what schooling means, what the objectives should be and how do it. Outspoken and courageous, she has taken many bold and controversial positions based on her belief that educators and education must be reinvented to be relevant in a brave new, technology-driven world.

Lisa is a strong collaborator and works with many groups to help move education reform forward. It's hard not to be impressed by the extent to which Lisa will go to push others forward, to empower and support the people she believes are on the right track. Her passion, energy and bias for action puts her in the league of proactive bloggers/commentators who go beyond writing and speaking about education reform to actually organizing and acting to advance the reforms she believes are critical to the field of education. Thoughtful, way out of the box thinker, more than and idea person...a "doer."

You can vote for me here :)

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

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