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All Honorees

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

November 2015

Honoree: Lincoln Public Schools Category College/career readiness

It started with the business community in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Local business and industry leaders wanted to grow and expand, but they lacked skilled employees.

Three years ago, they approached Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Joel about what the district could do. Joel formed a coalition of local leaders that included the president of local Southeast Community College to create the Career Academy.

Honoree: Salt Lake City School District Category Health and wellness

More than 60 percent of Salt Lake City School District’s 25,000 students live in poverty. To ensure all of their needs are met and they are ready to learn at all ages, administrators created a community learning center to provide health and job coaching to students and their families.

The district now has two such centers, named Community Learning Centers, with plans to build a third.

Honoree: Howard County Public School System Category Student achievement

A new elementary school model designed by Howard County Public Schools in Maryland aims to close racial and economic achievement gaps, and enhance instruction for all students.

Honoree: Lancaster ISD

Seven years ago, Lancaster ISD was in crisis. The school board was dysfunctional, the financial standing was uncertain, and some schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress. In 2010, Michael McFarland took over as superintendent. Two years later, Lancaster educators had designed and finished a framework for ensuring all students have access to a quality STEM education.

Honoree: Ossining Union Free School District Category Early learning

Ossining Union Free School District, located about an hour north of New York City, offers all children in the community early enrichment and foundational literacy activities to better prepare them for academic achievement later in life.

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.