LEADERS OF THE YEAR 2017 - Tech Learning

LEADERS OF THE YEAR 2017

Each time, it gets more difficult to select the T&L Leaders of the Year. So many worthy candidates! So many fantastic things happening in districts all over the country! The three winners below, nominated by their peers, are changing lives by developing new programs, encouraging innovation, and being strong, caring, and successful leaders.
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MICHELLE COOPER

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Michelle Cooper didn’t choose to be a library media specialist—the field chose her. Cooper taught high school English and world geography for 10 years; when her school’s librarian was about to retire, she asked if Cooper wanted to replace her. “I had never thought about it, but I loved reading,” says Cooper. So she got certified and took the job. A couple of years later, she became library media specialist at White Oak Middle School in Texas and started a lunchtime tech club that is so popular—with 200 members!—that she hosts multiple sessions a week. Cooper lets her students select the activities, which include 3D printing, coding, and participating in GlobalMakerDay (edcampglobal.wixsite.com/globalmakerspaces). Last year, the sixth-graders designed an obstacle course for the eighth-graders and their Spheros. “They solve problems, invent things, and get to be creative, which they don’t get to do in all of their classes,” says Cooper. She also started a weekly lunchtime book club in which students Skype with middle schools in Tennessee and the United Kingdom, reading the same books and creating videos to celebrate reading. Cooper loves working with middle school students. She says they are eager to try new things, which is terrific because she spends tons of time on Twitter, collaborating and looking for new ideas. Five years ago, she co-founded the Texas librarians (TXL) chat. She’s also a fan of Future Ready Librarians (www.facebook.com/groups/futurereadylibrarians/) on Facebook. “I know how many educators are doing their best every day, so to win this award is a huge honor,” she says.

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TOOLS THEY USE

Adobe Spark
Animoto
Buncee
Canva
Chibitronics
Chromebooks
Code.org
Discovery Science Techbooks
Discovery VR
Flipgrid
G Suite
iPads
Made with Code
MakerBot Replicator
Makey Makey
Ozobots
Scratch
Skype
Spheros
Squishy Circuits
Tickle
Wonderopolis

TODD DUGAN

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Anyone who has worked with him knows Todd Dugan’s motto: Choose service over self-interest. As superintendent of New Holland-Middletown (IL) Elementary District 88, a district of only 120 students, Dugan does whatever it takes to make sure students get what they need. It’s a high-poverty (74 percent), high-mobility (23 percent) K-8 district, so Dugan makes every minute count. Four years ago, he raised money to start a 1:1 program with various devices. Thanks to several STEM grants, an old classroom was converted into a makerspace that houses a tinkering station, Legos, Play-Doh, and a sewing machine. “We’re getting an Xbox Kinect to hook up to our 3D printer so students can do aerial printing,” says Dugan. “We wanted creativity to be part of the curriculum, not something teachers do with ‘leftover time.’” Dugan credits the design thinking project he did at his first SchoolCIO Summit in 2014 with encouraging him to start a makerspace. “We have seen students who weren’t even able to turn on a computer [become] leaders in the digital world,” says Amy Schmitz, District 88’s bookkeeper and administrative assistant. “Students can now read, pass classes they were having trouble in, and concentrate better … all because of one man making a difference in several lives. He’s an extraordinary leader!”

TOOLS THEY USE

Asus Chromebox
Discovery Education Streaming
DreamBox Learning
Google Classroom
G Suite
HP Chromebooks
iPads
IXL
Learning A-Z
Lenovo Chromebooks
MacBooks
MakerBot 3D printer
Microsoft OneNote
Microsoft Surface Pros
Microsoft Sway
Office 365
Osmo
SMARTboards
TeacherEase (Common Goal)
Tinkercad
Twitter

JERRI KEMBLE

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Jerri Kemble’s colleagues call her “the person you go to if you want to see things happen” and “someone who strives to make everyone around her better by developing their own capacity.” They may be surprised to learn that when she started teaching she was told to send her students to a computer lab and had no idea what they did. However, in true Kemble fashion, she asked for volunteers to stay after school and show her what they did. Two boys showed her the ropes, and today the assistant superintendent of innovation and technology for Lawrence (KS) Public Schools makes sure that everything she does is transparent. According to Kemble, a meeting in Kansas in September 2001 reshaped her life’s work. “I heard state leaders talk about the power of technology to change education and it rocked my world,” she says. “That…and the Palm Pilot they gave us.” She became superintendent of a small rural district and started programs to expand opportunities for her students, including a virtual school, a 1:1 iPad initiative, and the iPad Chefs program, in which third- and fourth-graders traveled all over the state to show teachers how to use iPads. After moving to her current district, Kemble launched the Learning Forward/Future Ready initiative and a digital equity program. “One of our high school students, the only one in her family who spoke English, brought home a Kajeet. Her mother began going online and got a job that she would have never known about. Not only are we helping our students—we are helping their families.” Kemble is extremely proud of bridging the digital divide and will continue empowering others. “I was in the classroom for 13 years and I never lose sight that that is where it really happens. When I help teachers get what they need, that means I can help more students. Giving children technology makes my poorest student rich.”

TOOLS THEY USE

Adobe Spark & Video
Apple Classroom
Atomic Learning
Blackboard
Discovery Education
DoInk
DreamBox
Eventzee
Google Classroom
G Suite
HyperDocs
iTunesU
iPads
Kahoot
Kajeet
MacBooks
MyOn
QR codes
SeeSaw
Symbaloo
Tackk
TweetBeam
Vernier probeware
VideoScribe

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