At the Tech & Learning Leadership Summit in Boston, school district leaders gathered at the beautiful Connors Center for a day of professional development that included small group discussions on important topics such as data privacy, digital wellness, changing pedagogy, and more.
The Summit closed with an award ceremony that named the winners of the Boston Tech & Learning Innovative Leader Awards, which recognizes exceptional administrators in select regions around the country who are leading innovation in their school districts.
Please help us congratulate the winners – and consider nominating yourself or a colleague for other upcoming Regional Summits here.
Most Innovative Learning Spaces: Andrew Wallace
As South Portland Maine Schools’s Director of Technology, Wallace and his team used emergency funding to refresh most instructional spaces. South Portland equipped most instructional spaces with Lightspeed-Tek audio distribution systems to greatly improve speech intelligibility during a period of universal mask wearing, and it’s already yielding post-pandemic benefits. Going beyond the basic voice distribution solution, some teachers implement classroom audio “pucks” in addition to the lanyard style microphones. These small devices are placed in small group areas around the classroom so students can share their voices via the ceiling mounted systems. The new audio solution complemented the Promethean interactive touch panels recently added to all K-5 instructional spaces.
South Portland also approached classroom video in a new way by mounting the interactive panels to a ClearTouch mobile tilt & height adjustable stand. Because the panels can move around the room for small group as well as whole class instruction these deemphasize lecture-style, front-of-classroom instruction. The motorized mounts were chosen by a team of South Portland educators with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in mind, allowing students of all physical sizes and abilities to touch and interact with the panels. Teachers connect their lanyard microphone to their laptop or interactive panels to distribute the voices of remote students or guests throughout the classroom – making this solution flexible for hybrid learning.
The Audio Puck system is being expanded to more classrooms, so that students too can share their ideas and observations in a true participatory classroom. South Portland’s innovative Audio Puck solution is literally and figuratively amplifying “student voice” and agency in the classroom.
Best Implementation of Data Privacy: Kim Ramos
As a Technology Instructional Coach in the North Kingstown School District (NKSD), Ramos worked with the IT director and systems administrator to create a plan to better vet the digital tools their students and teachers were using. After multiple meetings with other tech admins across Rhode Island throughout 2020-2021, a student data privacy plan began to take shape, which started with prioritizing the types and number of platforms that were offered. The next step was to implement better vetting of the digital tools. During the 2021-22 academic year, a workflow for requesting and approving these tools was developed. Finally, all teachers, principals, and staff needed to learn not just the “what” of data privacy, but also the “why.”
As the main provider of technology-based professional learning for NKSD, Ramos has led PD sessions, curated and created content-specific webpages, and communicated best practices via bi-weekly "Tech Coach Tips" emails. While this is still a work in progress, NKSD is confident they are on the right path.
Nominate a colleague for an Innovative Leader Award for an upcoming Regional Summit here
Best Example of Teacher & Student Wellbeing Programs: Dr. Alena Zachery-Ross
As Superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools in Michigan, Zachery-Ross led her team to provide exemplary services to students, staff, and community over the last two years. Her team trained all administrators on the Trauma Resilient Schools through Starr Commonwealth and Elena Agular's work on Onward. They hosted monthly Sunshine Committee events for all staff and quarterly events for families including jazz nights, town hall meetings with mental health professionals, and Boots on the Ground activities in their communities.
The district also created a Resiliency Center that was a one-stop-shop resource for students and families. They also offered food and learning labs right in students' communities to allow them to feel physical and mental safety. Ypsilanti Community Schools also offers an online school that was opened this year for families who were still not comfortable returning to the district.
Best Overall Implementation of Technology: Laurie Guyon
As Coordinator for Model Schools Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, Laurie has supported the professional development of hundreds of educators across New York State. She has hosted 400 webinars and workshops, created more than a dozen self-paced training courses, offered office hours for one-on-one or small group support to answer questions, and showcased ways to save time and use technology effectively. She also creates digital resources for educators in all aspects of hybrid and virtual teaching, hosts an edtech coaches group through her BOCES, and has established a “Learner Variability Advisory Board” in which she explores pedagogy and teaching techniques to support educators using technology when and where appropriate.
- Anthony Emmons, High School STEM Supervisor, Randolph Township Schools
- Kerry Gallagher, Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning, St. John's Prep (MA)
- Michael Gaskell, Principal and Author, East Brunswick Schools (NJ)
- Matthew Joseph, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Providence Public Schools
- James Rand, Educator and Esports Coach and Kyle Gunderman, Infrastructure Manager, Griswold High School (MA)
- Michael Terrell Conner, Former Superintendent of Middletown Public Schools and currently CEO/Founder of the Agile Evolutionary Group (MA)
- Nominate a colleague for an Innovative Leader Award for an upcoming Regional Summit here