Innovative NYC DOE staff rock the #BammyAwards

Innovative NYC DOE staff rock the #BammyAwards

The key to ensuring students are prepared to use social media for academic, social, and career success is bringing the right people to the table to guide and support those working with children and staff toward achieving success. At the NYC DOE we are fortunate to have a team helping The Digital Communication + Strategy office do this work that consists of some of the nation’s most innovative librarians, technology teachers, and family engagement staff. These educators were recognized this weekend in Washington, D.C. at The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences Second Annual Bammy Awards.

Below are the four finalists that were selected from a large pool of educators nominated from across the nation. Two walked away with the prestigious 9 lb Bammy Award!

The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences Bammy Awards were created to bring attention to that which is good in education. The results are in and there is a whole lot of good in New York City!

Check out who was honored below.


Deven Black

School Librarian

Deven makes a difference in many ways. For his students, he made a difference by taking over a library that had become moribund, out of date, anachronistic, completely disorganized and with no technology. In two years he turned it into a much more modern, way more up-to-date, fully automated functioning library that circulates 200 books a week. He also is always on a quest to support students in learning in ways aligned to their interests, strengths and talents as he wrote about in this great lesson that he implemented

For his colleagues at his school, Deven has led the development of a more technology-capable staff through one-to-one training of tech-phobic or reluctant teachers. On a larger scale, Deven has served on the review committee to help implement the new social media guidelines for NYC DOE employees.

Sara Cottone

Parent Leader

Sara Cottone understands that in today’s struggling economy there are many more working parents. It is very hard for them to make the time to be at the school, but even a little time is so worth the effort so Cottone has come up with innovative approaches that not only support her school community, but have also become a model for the largest school district in America, New York City. The innovative practices Cottone incorporates to reach working parents are now used as a model and example for other parent coordinators across the city who are looking new ways to connect and coordinate with their school community. Cottone teaches us that even if parents can’t be at school, there are ways to keep them connected.

Some of the ways she does this include creating online spaces where they can not only get information, such as the Parent Coordinator website (, but also a space for them to interact, a Parent Coordinator Facebook page


Chris Casal

School Technology Support

Chris Casal is making a difference by facilitating communication with all school community stakeholders to establish a fully connected and transparent digital learning environment designed to build and strengthen relationships.

Parent’s can’t always come to school to meet with teachers, the administration can’t always observe every great lesson or activity. Chris helps to keep them in the know with the PS 10 social media platforms. This helps the school connect with parents & community members on a wide variety of digital platforms with a consistent message. There is the PS 10 Facebook page where he posts status updates with fliers about fundraisers, changes in schedules, links to news articles about the school or relevant NYC school information. He also manages the school’s Twitter account (@PS10Brooklyn) and hashtags #ps10bk & #ps10sw. This helps streamline the publishing of general information & student work, helping to create a very transparent learning environment.

The transparency of Twitter and the school hastags allows parents and staff members alike to have a front row seat to the great things happening in school. Parents can follow teachers and get a regular glimpse into the classroom settings, even when they are unable to be there. The administration can more easily be aware of great instructional moments, even if they can’t be there first hand by keeping up with school hashtags and teacher handles. During Superstorm Sandy these social media outlets provided a lifeline for the school to keep all stakeholders up-to-date and supported.

Whether it is child, teacher, parent, or community Chris Casal works to ensure all members of the school community are supported in becoming active, engaged, and involved members of the digital world in which they live.

Lisa Nielsen

Education Commentator

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."

Modeled on the broad scope of the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys, the Bammy Awards are created in response to the relentless national criticism of America’s public schools. The negative perception of public education has led to a decrease in public confidence, calls for reductions in financial support and intense scrutiny of educators, while all that is right in American education is largely ignored.

The results of the votes cast by the Council of Peers were computer-tallied, entered into finalists’ ballots and are sent to the Academy’s Board of Governors, who will vote to determine who will receive the Bammy Award for 2013 in each of the categories. The full list of finalists in all categories can be viewed at here.

To learn more about the Bammy Awards, goto Sendemails, or call 818-539-5971.

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.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

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