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Three school leaders win NASSP’s 2014 Digital Principals Award

Daisy Dyer Duerr, principal of St. Paul High School in Arkansas, created the educational twitter chat, #ArkEdChat.
Daisy Dyer Duerr, principal of St. Paul High School in Arkansas, created the educational twitter chat, #ArkEdChat.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) named three winners of its annual Digital Principals Award: Daisy Dyer Duerr, principal of St. Paul High School in Arkansas; Jason Markey, principal of East Leyden High School in Illinois; and Derek McCoy, principal of Spring Lake Middle School in North Carolina.

The award program, which launched in 2011 to coincide with NASSP’s Digital Learning Day, recognizes principals’ successes in using technology to improve instruction, communication and student engagement. This year’s winners received their awards at the NASSP conference in February.

Daisy Dyer Duerr

St. Paul High School, Arkansas

Duerr has spent her three years as principal of rural St. Paul High School in part applying for grants to increase technology and bandwidth in her classrooms. She says the latter is especially important, as it’s estimated that only 10 percent of her nearly 150 students have internet access at home. In addition, she has increased the number of portable devices in the school from 10 to 200.

The devices range from iPads to Nooks and other e-readers. Now a BYOD school, St. Paul has a weekly digital citizenship course to teach students to use technology. Since joining Twitter last year, Duerr has established a weekly Arkansas educational twitter chat, @ArkEdChat.

“Being in a small-town environment, technology has equalized the playing field for us, ” Duerr says. “While it’s important to have access to these devices, we’ve also worked hard to create the right school culture and build relationships with students to make it work.”

Jason Markey

East Leyden High School, Illinois

Along with encouraging the use of collaborative blogs and social media during his two years as a principal, Markey has helped his school transition to 1-to-1 by purchasing 3,500 Chromebooks. He also helped create a technology support internship class that acts as a student-led IT help desk.

This past year, students have learned about technology while assisting in more than 10,000 requests for IT help. Marky also organized a digital citizenship leadership team that provides students and parents with information about the positive and negative impacts of social media.

“Social media is a great opportunity to give a school community a voice and increase communication between students and teachers,” Markey says. “Whether it’s giving a student feedback on an assignment, having students collaborate online or sharing academic achievements, having the right technology allows us to enhance those experiences.”

Derek McCoy

Spring Lake Middle School, North Carolina

During his two years as principal at Spring Lake, a Title 1 school, McCoy has implemented a BYOD framework, brought in Chromebooks and other new devices, and moved all the school’s planning documents to the district’s Google cloud. More teachers blogging and sharing ideas about using technology have been some of the benefits of his initiative, McCoy says. His ultimate goal is that technology will drive more rigorous classroom instruction, he adds.

McCoy says he has gotten lots of technology ideas from educators with whom he has connected on Twitter. He co-moderates two chats on Twitter: #Edfocus connects experts with educators and #ncadmin is a chat specifically for North Carolina administrators.

“Whether it’s on Twitter or Google+, committing to joining and being active on social media can be a great experience for educators,” McCoy says. “By following other leaders or asking an expert a question, they can see that implementing any technology initiative is doable.”