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This year I had the honor of being named a “20 to Watch” Leader in Educational Technology by the National School Board Association. Honorees are nominated by members of their school board or community members. We gathered in Washington D.C. at the CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) conference. We had a day full of meetings, opportunities to network, and even offer constructive criticism to a few ed tech companies. The joy of being in a room full of other people who understand the importance of educational technology was pure joy, if not a bit overwhelming. I am an iPad Lab teacher in an elementary school. I see over 700 students each day. My job is to teach digital citizenship, keyboarding, basic programming, as well as augment classroom instruction. Being in a room full of superintendents, school administrators, software developers, state technology officers, and a handful of teachers who are also programmers and software developers (in their spare time) was an experience that I will remember for a VERY long time. These people represented the best in the business and I got to hang out with them!  I was given the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I am told that being one of the “20” will follow me throughout my career. If that is the case, I will gladly accept the recognition, not for the sake of being “cool” but because it automatically places me in a group with these outstanding educators—an extreme version of a Personal Learning Community. The recognition could not have been accomplished without the National School Board Association, my own school board, my principal, and the district Instructional Technology Department. These entities allow me to have autonomy in my classroom—a rarity in education. I determine my own curriculum and choose the best ways to implement it. I am able to provide my students with what they need, instead of what the curriculum says they need. Being an outstanding teacher is easy in such an environment. Special thanks to the following group of outstanding stars who allowed me to learn in such a welcoming, open atmosphere! It is an honor to be in a group with you!

Here is a list of the 20 to Watch:

Alabama:
Amanda Stone, Assistant Principal, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover City Schools, AL 
Outfitting a Maker Studio, running STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) and Maker camps, plus developing Instructional Design Master classes with a team as an adjunct technology professor, keeps Amanda Stone busy. Teachers in her school say she leads by example, demonstrates how technology and gaming can be integrated across the curriculum through STEAM, and helps parents and the public understand how STEAM content prepares students for future success.
California:
Stephen Carr, Chief Technology Officer, Ventura County Office of Education, CA Recognizing that safe and responsible use of technology is key to building parent confidence and wider adoption of technology, Stephen Carr’s e-safety task force uses the Generation Safe 360 Self-Assessment Tool to determine the district’s strengths, gaps, and goals in order to support a digital citizenship curriculum across grade levels.
Jon Corippo, Director of Academic Innovation, CUE, CA Leads the CUE Professional Learning Team serving over 9000 educators this year, tripling the educators served last year, while also developing the successful Rock Star Admin and TOSA Camps – both featuring leadership training and hands-on learning for educational leaders. Jon imagined and implemented the CUE STEAMpunk Program, which loans class-sized kits of robotics at no cost to teachers.Adam Welcome, Principal, San Ramón Valley Unified School District, CAFifth graders serve as social media interns who tell powerful stories to their community by snapping photos, preparing tweets, and creating Facebook posts for publication while also learning digital citizenship skills. Adam Welcome created group hashtags, #KidsDeserveIt and #PrincipalsInAction so others can follow his work and that of his students.
District of Columbia:
Thomas C. Murray, Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools, Alliance for Excellent Education, DC As a key player in the Future Ready Initiative (futureready.org), and supported by a coalition of over 50 partner organizations, Thomas C. Murray worked firsthand with more than 500 districts and 2,300 school leaders in 2015 to create dynamic 21st century, personalized learning environments for all students.
Georgia:
Joanna Beck, Teacher, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School, Clarke County School District, GA Described as a solution seeker by her superintendent, Joanna Beck believes technology can help level the playing field for all learners, and that her students take increased ownership of their learning when using digital tools. She uses Remind101 to keep parents informed and creates dinner discussion quizzes and study guides to strengthen the home-school connection.
Illinois:
Phil Hintz, Director of Technology, Gurnee School District 56, IL Higher test scores, a 70 percent decrease in discipline issues, and declining absentee rates are just a few of the results of the collaborative and successful districtwide 1:1 iPad Initiative of 2,500 iPads that Phil Hintz and his team implemented. His work with parents to establish online student accounts now serves as the model for Apple’s U13 policy and his latest project will utilize the 3D virtual and augmented reality system, zSpace, in STEM labs.Christopher Hull, Teacher, Elm Place Middle School, North Shore School District 112 and Co-Founder of Otus, IL As a teacher, Chris Hull recognized there was not a dynamic, easy-to-use tool to synthesize his students’ learning data all in one place. Hull and two colleagues founded Otus, a student performance platform that goes beyond the traditional LMS by combining a data warehouse and a collection of classroom management tools in a single platform. By connecting data to instruction in Otus, educators can strive to maximize student learning every day.

Iowa:
Leslie Pralle Keehn, Instructional Technology Consultant, Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, IA Leslie Pralle Keehn’s support of Maker Days in some of the 40 districts she serves inspires educators and elicits comments such as “I had no idea our kids could do this!” She launched the Global Citizenship LICENSE (Legitimacy, Identity, Community impact, Education, Networks, and Safety and Ethics) to meet her districts’ needs for better digital citizenship resources and co-hosts the Connecting Creativity series for a global community of learners.Kansas:
Josh Stock, English Language Arts Teacher, Santa Fe Trail Middle School, Olathe Unified School District, KS Josh Stock’s natural curiosity about technology helps him engage and enhance student learning in his language arts classes, contributes to his role as coach of the school’s LEGO robotics team, and explains how leading a year of coding activities culminated in a video chat with Bill Gates. Stock shares his experiences nationally on Twitter as @teachlikeaninja. imgres-6-150x150Louisiana:
Katie Chirhart, iPad Lab Teacher, Shreve Island Elementary, Caddo Parish School Board, LA As her district’s first iPad Lab teacher, Katie Chirhart creates assignments that augment classroom instruction, inspires colleagues, and provides authentic opportunities for her students, whether that is showcasing Maker Space projects, writing app reviews, or programming Dash robots or Ozobots. Her tech expertise was reflected in the school’s embrace of social media and the overhaul of the parental communications system.

Michigan:
Luke Wittum, Assistant Superintendent – Technology and Media Services, Genesee Intermediate School District, MI Complex technology projects, such as the development of a statewide educational network to ensure Michigan students have access to the bandwidth needed to support classroom initiatives; expanded use of online learning for students and educators and delivery of online assessments; broad-based technology purchasing strategies; and a host of other capacity-building efforts have been positively impacted by Luke Wittum’s leadership and involvement.

Missouri:
Patricia Brown, Technology Integration Coach, Old Bonhomme Elementary School, Ladue School District, MO Considered an “idea generator,” Patricia Brown infuses technology to improve classroom workflow and foster creativity so students become creators, collaborators, and publishers through authentic experiences where they connect deeper to content. Her work on the national stage as a facilitator of hundreds of professional development sessions has earned her the nickname “Ms. EDtechie.”

New Jersey:
Silvia Correa-Abbato, Superintendent of Schools, Union City School District, NJ In her first year as Union City’s superintendent, Silvia Correa-Abbato reinvested in the technological infrastructure for all 14 schools, created successful summer camps on coding and 3D printing for students in grades 2 to 5, and is currently working on implementing the district’s first computer programming course for Latino students.

Regina Schaffer, Instructional Technology Specialist, Middletown Township School District, NJ Educators who connect with Regina Schaffer through the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) Digital Equity PLN Leadership Committee and social media channels describe her as a supportive colleague who is always willing to share. She helped bring Google Apps for Education to her district; founded the middle school student tech team, which is now part of a districtwide initiative; and has run Middletown’s only elementary technology club for the past three years.

New York:
Adam Schoenbart, English Teacher/Capstone Technology Coach, Ossining High School, Ossining Union Free School District, NYMuch of the organic growth toward a shift to 21st century teaching and learning is attributed to the passion Adam Schoenbart brings to his work. His vision of a 24/7 learning  model includes flipped and blended classrooms, greater collaboration between students and faculty, and, most recently, an opportunity for 18 classes to pilot Google Expeditions.

North Carolina:
James Lanier, Coordinator of Secondary Digital Learning, Johnston County Schools, NC Colleagues describe James Lanier as having a “contagious excitement for learning,” which explains his success running the annual Student Technology Conference and leading the district’s 2T4E initiative (Transforming Teaching for Engagement). 2T4E delivers professional development to assist teachers in their transition to creating more engaged classrooms that effectively utilize digital tools.

Ohio:
Matthew Miller, Superintendent, Mentor Public Schools, OH Instructional improvement is the driver behind the innovative approaches embraced by the district where staff suggestions ranging from flexible learning spaces to Genius Hour and drones have been implemented. Matthew Miller’s support of blended learning, and the most recent Go Open initiative keeps Mentor on the national scene.

Pennsylvania:
Dr. Bryan E. O’Black, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Shaler Area School District, PA Dr. Bryan O’Black leads Project ACE (Advancing Classroom Education), a multiphase effort to change the culture of learning in the district, which includes supporting principals to grow as instructional leaders through a summer Principals’ Technology Academy and empowering students to take more ownership of their learning in a one-to-one environment.

Texas:
Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning, Lufkin Independent School District, TX Rafranz Davis hit the ground running to build a new department from the ground up by working with district stakeholders to create a future-ready learning environment and offering teachers more personalized professional learning. The Lufkin Learns Digital Ambassadors, a group established by Davis, helps develop digital leadership across the district.

– See more at: NSBA 20 to Watch

If you are not following all of these people on Twitter, you should be!

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