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All Honorees

Use search features below to find honorees by district name, program category, or award cycle.

November 2015

Honoree: Portola Valley School District Category Health and wellness

In the face of budget cuts, San Francisco Bay Area’s Portola Valley School District administrators and community members prioritized health and wellness to help every student develop a lifelong commitment to fitness.

Today, all PE classes in the district of 650 K8 students use technology-based instructional practices to reach fitness goals.

Honoree: Morenci USD #18 Category Public/private partnerships

It takes three hours to get from Morenci USD #18, a small school district in rural Arizona, to the closest university.

With that in mind, district leaders partnered with Eastern Arizona College and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to offer high school students free college credits before graduation.

Registration and books are paid for in any course that a student passes.

Honoree: Corona-Norco USD Category College/career readiness

In Corona-Norco USD, a district of 52,000 students just east of Anaheim, California, administrators noticed that many academically successful students began to struggle as they reached high school.

These students were lost in the crowd in traditional schools—often overshadowed by higher-achieving peers or by those with greater academic needs.

Honoree: Lamont Elementary District Category Student achievement

Lamont Elementary School District is located in a rural California town dominated by agriculture.

Most of the district’s 2,900 students are Hispanic, and many have limited English proficiency. Some 96 percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals, and many of their parents are impoverished both academically and financially.

Honoree: Suffolk Public Schools Category Public/private partnerships

Research shows the “summer slide” widens the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers.

With half of the 14,400 students in Virginia’s Suffolk Public Schools eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, administrators and 20 community partners developed the Learning and Enrichment for Academic Progress program (LEAP) in 2014-15 to keep at-risk students active and learning during the summer.

Honoree: Tacoma Public Schools Category Student achievement

In 2010, Tacoma Public Schools’ graduation rate was a low 55 percent.

A year later, the Washington district, under Superintendent Carla Santorno, created its first-ever strategic plan with an academic/graduation component that also focused on early learning. The district enlisted community partners to achieve results.

Honoree: Minnetonka Public Schools Category Employee engagement

A new kind of learning and a new kind of learner has transformed Minnetonka Public Schools.

A few years ago, the Minnesota district faced decreased funding and rising costs, yet was driven to challenge the status quo of traditional education. Under Superintendent Dennis Peterson, Minnetonka aimed to engage hundreds of employees in rethinking the best strategies to improve.

Honoree: Topeka Public Schools Category Fostering principal leadership

While the student population of Topeka Public Schools includes 59 percent minorities, teachers and administrators are primarily white, with few diverse candidates applying to the district.

In 2011, Topeka created the Minority Leadership Academy advancing to prepare such teachers for leadership positions. Minority teachers who show leadership potential and an interest in growing their careers are selected.

Honoree: Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Category English-language leaners

Houston has become one of the most diverse cities in the country. The city’s Cypress-Fairbanks ISD—in which 100 languages are spoken—already had a thriving ESL program, but created the New Arrival Center to further increase its support for students from immigrant families.

Administrators realized students learning just basic English would make greater academic progress in a specialized setting with specially trained teachers.

Honoree: Harrison School District Two Category Professional development

Between 2007 and 2012, one-third of all teachers hired in the Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs were new to the profession.

Since research shows that half of new teachers transfer to new schools or leave the profession after five years, the district created a four-week professional development initiative called the New Staff Institute to reduce turnover.

Honoree: Highline Public Schools Category Early learning

Parents and caregivers receive training to better prepare their pre-K students to enter Highline Public Schools outside Seattle.

The district did not have funding for universal preK, so it designed its Pre-K Play and Learn program for the 70 percent of kindergartners who have no structured early-childhood learning experiences.

Between February and June, parents, caregivers and their 4- and 5-year-olds attend sessions at nine district sites.

Honoree: Berkshire Hills Regional School District Category Student achievement

High-needs K8 students in a rural Massachusetts district receive and benefit from extensive learning support from an after-school program and five-week summer camp called Project Connection.

Berkshire Hills Regional School District created Project Connection to empower students through project-based instruction that teaches them to better recognize their own strengths and then build on them.

Honoree: Corbin Independent Schools Category Student achievement

Bible school and 4-H camp were the only organized summer activities available to the 2,830 students in rural Corbin Independent Schools in eastern Kentucky.

Nearly 25 years ago, in 1991 , the district developed the Redhound Summer Enrichment Program, a summer-long, 10-hour per day blend of academic enrichment, summer activities and field trips.

Honoree: Vista USD Category Professional development

In Vista USD, a district of 22,000 students 40 miles north of San Diego, most students live in poverty with limited access to technology. In 2011, the district owned eight Chromebooks.

By 2015, several initiatives, including the non-profit Digital Promise, helped the district procure some 14,500 Chromebooks and 5,400 iPads—leading to major changes in teaching and learning.

Honoree: Harlandale ISD Category College/career readiness

The city of San Antonio has many jobs in aerospace manufacturing and engineering—but many students in the area are not enrolling in college or gaining adequate STEM skills to fill them.

So Harlandale ISD, a district of 15,100 students located in San Antonio, created the state’s first STEM Early College High School in a large metropolitan area.

Honoree: Newport News Public Schools

Newport News Public Schools developed a summer learning program for 2,000 students in an economically stressed area, despite budget cuts of more than $20 million since 2008.

For the first time this past summer, the district partnered with 30 corporate, nonprofit, city, state and federal organizations to provide six weeks of full-day instruction and learning activities for K12.

Honoree: Vancouver Public Schools Category STEM

Prior to 2012, Vancouver Public Schools offered STEM classes and programs primarily to high school students.

To meet Washington’s growing demand for more STEM jobs, the district created Vancouver iTech Preparatory, a 1-to-1 early-college high school for students in grades 6 through 12.

Students can enroll in college courses at two nearby universities as early as grade 9. Admission is granted through a lottery so that enrollment reflects all demographic areas of the district...

Honoree: Union County Public Schools Category BYOD 1-to-1 or other district-wide technology initiative

Union County Schools in North Carolina solved issues of equity and rising costs by rolling out an extensive 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative.

Previously, the district had considered a BYOD program but quickly realized it wouldn’t provide an equitable learning environment and the variety of devices would put a strain on IT support efforts.

Honoree: Utica Community Schools Category College/career readiness

The economic downturn and employers’ demands for new types of skills inspired Utica Community Schools in Michigan to create a college prep center in 2008.

The half-day programs at the Utica Center for Science and Industry prepare students for college-level engineering, robotics and multimedia production. Core math and English are woven into the curriculum that also offers students college credits.

Honoree: Wake County Public School System Category Innovative building design/philosophy

With high school students facing soaring college costs and pressure to prepare earlier for careers, Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina partnered with a community college and the local government to build Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, an early-college high school for grades 9 through 12.