Saskatchewan’s Regina Catholic School Division has been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Follett Challenge, marking the first time a school or district from outside the United States has claimed the top spot in the contest, now in its ninth year.
For its winning entry — “Tinker Tub Project” — Regina Catholic School Division earns a $60,000 USD prize in Follett products and services plus a celebration at their school, which will include a visit from Kwame Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Medalist, who served as a Follett Challenge judge for the first time.
“We are thrilled and honored to be the grand-prize recipient of this year’s Follett Challenge,” said Kelley Ehman, superintendent of education services, Regina Catholic School Division. “We are so proud of the work our curriculum consultants and coordinators have been doing to promote 21st century learning.”
In line with the Saskatchewan curriculum, Regina’s Tinker Tubs revolve around eight themes that ignite critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity as students discover, explore, create, invent, and share. The Tinker Tubs are designed to encourage students to learn how to adapt and create in a digital world and prepare them for the increasingly global workplace.
“The Tinker Tub initiative has the potential to create a legacy of sustained change in professional practice to support student learning now and in the future,” said Sherry Chase, curriculum coordinator, Regina Catholic School Division. “Our hope is continued improvement in on-time graduation rates, as well as test scores for Saskatchewan students, but ultimately the success of our students as life-long learners engaged in empowered citizenship.”
Last month, Follett Challenge announced Regina Catholic School Division as one of this year’s three semifinalists, having won the middle school category. The other semifinalists were Valley Stream (N.Y.) School District 24, the elementary school category winner, and Lindblom Math and Science Academy, the high school category winner from Chicago (Ill.) Public Schools. Valley Stream and Lindblom each earn $30,000 in Follett products and services.
Another 10 schools, whose video submissions received the highest number of online votes from the public, each earn $8,000 in Follett products and services. The total amount awarded is $200,000.
According to Shannon McClintock-Miller, a judge for this year’s Follett Challenge, Regina Catholic’s project “is one of the coolest collaborative and innovative projects I have ever seen from a school district.”
“Tinker Tubs not only empowers students to take ownership over their learning but is the glue that brings the entire community together through collaborative and purposeful curricular projects, themes and outcomes,” said Miller, a K-12 district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School District in Iowa. “A project like this will continue to make an impact on the students for years to come. I can’t wait to see how being this year’s Follett Challenge winner will bring even more change and innovation to this special district.”
Among those joining Miller on the judging committee was Alexander, who is partnering with Follett on a literacy campaign (“All Books for All Kids”). Alexander and Follett Challenge officials will visit Saskatchewan to celebrate the contest win with Regina Catholic School Division administrators, teachers, and students.
Last year’s Grand Prize winner was Tudor Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska. For a complete look at all the Follett Challenge winners over the years, visit https://follettchallenge.com/winners/pastwinners.cfm.
Follett Challenge entrants completed an online application and submitted a three- to five-minute video outlining how their program has made a positive impact. All public and private K-12 schools/districts in the United States, Canada, and Australia are eligible to apply, and submissions are open to all K-12 educators and Parent Teacher Organizations.