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Congratulations to the honorees in the latest round of DA’s Schools of TechXcellence national recognition program. Their exemplary initiatives serve as worthy models of inspiration for schools across the country. Scroll down or use the search feature to locate a December honoree by district.

June 2018

Honoree: Castleberry ISD Category Math

Robots rolled into classrooms at Castleberry ISD in Fort Worth, Texas, to rev up fifth-graders about math in the 2016-17 school year. A teacher preparing students for state testing realized the robotic devices could help students with a particular, essential skill: understanding coordinate grids. 

Honoree: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Category Professional Development

In a 1-to-1 device district with nearly 20,000 English language learners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools educators were eager to design lessons that would foster academic conversations and build language skills for those students. District leaders also saw technology as a solution that could provide students with opportunities beyond class time to practice language skills and to participate in collaborative projects.

Honoree: River Dell Regional School District Category Security (cyber and physical)

Responding to growing student interest in computer science careers, River Dell Regional High School has developed a hands-on course of study in cybersecurity.

Honoree: Utica Community Schools Category Other instruction

The Utica Center for Science and Industry began in 2008 as a way for Utica Community Schools to provide three career-focused pathways—multimedia production, engineering technology and mechatronics. Each semester includes a cross-curricular challenge where students from the three pathways collaborate on a final project. 

Honoree: Elmont Union Free School District Category Music and arts instruction

Forget having to endure boring piano lessons, practicing scales or playing pieces by long-gone composers. When Alden Terrace Elementary School in New York launched its Digital Piano Music Program, technology was the bridge between traditional music lessons and the music that was relevant to students’ lives.

Honoree: Socorro ISD Category Other instruction

With only 13 percent of current computer science employees being people of color, Socorro ISD in El Paso—which is 92 percent Hispanic—wanted to create a computer science magnet program to encourage its students to join the field. 

The School of Advanced Technology Applications (SATA) was launched in 2014 and is currently the only computer science magnet program in the state. The school is also 1-to-1, with all students receiving laptops. 

Honoree: Chesterfield County Public Schools Category Institutional leadership, productivity

Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia encouraged educators in grades 3 through 5 to teach from a new curriculum in updated classrooms. The transformation—Design for Excellence—began in 2014 after district elementary schools received approval from the superintendent. The district also provided Chromebooks for student in grades 4 through 12.

Honoree: Granbury ISD Category Reading & Writing

Students at Granbury Middle School in the heart of Texas were lacking sufficient knowledge of people, places, stories and events to complete high-quality writing assignments. To address this, the HELP database was created by students to provide better source material to supplement their writing.

Honoree: Freehold Regional High School District Category Other instruction

Howell High School’s world language learning methodology was antiquated, with limited student access to technology. Because this high school does not have a 1-to-1 program, district leaders sought a way to engage world language students with technology. 

Honoree: Legacy Traditional Schools District Category Music and arts instruction

Every musician knows there’s a difference between being able to read and play sheet music and “making it their own” by performing with personality and expression. That was the challenge music teacher Patrick Cooper faced at Legacy Traditional School in Chandler, Arizona. 

Honoree: Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools Category Professional Development

Educators at Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools in Ohio wanted to learn how to use new technology, but were struggling to find the right opportunity. 

After reaching out to other local school leaders, Superintendent Todd Osborn launched Fairfield County PD Day, which provided time to investigate new instructional tools and

“Our goal was to develop a systemic process to define the basic technology skills each teacher should possess,” says Osborn. 

Honoree: McHenry School District 15 Category Makerspaces

At McHenry School District 15 there is a strong emphasis on preparation for college and career opportunities starting with the youngest years. District leaders focus on redefining how students can engage in hands-on, minds-on learning activities.

As part of a three-year project, McHenry School District updated all eight of its schools with new makerspaces, aiming to infuse extra interest and energy within their students, staff and community.

Honoree: Pickerington Schools Category Virtual and augmented reality

In 2016 Pickerington Schools in Ohio was witnessing a growing achievement gap that had school leaders working tirelessly to tighten. Traditional interventions were failing as disengaged students became even less engaged. Thoughts turned to the idea that a large part of the achievement gap is a lack of experiences outside of and in the classrooms. Budget cuts eliminated field trips and student education was mostly textbook-based.

Honoree: Pine Grove Area School District Category Virtual and augmented reality

Educators at Pine Grove Area High School in Pennsylvania recognized a need to teach students how to create next-generation content—specifically, 360-degree video, photography and animation that can play on virtual reality platforms.  

Honoree: Red Lion Area School District Category Professional Development

In 2014, teachers at Red Lion Area Junior High School were concerned when the district announced its plan to implement a 1-to-1 initiative. Many educators were concerned about using Chromebooks, so the Pennsylvania district introduced a program where teachers could constructively critique one another’s performance. 

Honoree: Southampton County Public Schools Category Other instruction

Recognizing the need for skilled computer programmers, Riverdale Elementary School implemented the Code to the Future program.

Beginning in kindergarten, students spend 90 minutes per week using programming tools and learning introductory computer science skills. Teachers and students work together to develop games and activities that test their coding abilities. 

Category Virtual and augmented reality

Tampa Prep has always prided itself on providing students with cutting-edge technology to incorporate into instruction and extracurricular activities. When virtual reality

technologies hit the market, the school saw a great opportunity for its tech-savvy students.

Honoree: Taylorville Community Unit School District #3 Category Other instruction

In an effort to build an innovative STEM lab, Taylorville Junior High School sought the support from Taylorville Community Unit School District, which provided furniture. The Illinois school also received monetary gifts from private donors and funds for technology equipment from the Taylorville Public Schools Foundation. 

Honoree: Greeneville City Schools Category Other

Greeneville City Schools in Tennessee launched its 1-to-1 digital transformation three years ago after a community fundraising effort purchased devices for students in grades 3 through 5 at Tusculum View Elementary.

That meant administrators had to ensure teachers and students were ready to use those devices effectively, and that they had a solid grasp of standards of digital citizenship, says Principal DeAnna Martin.

Honoree: Ontario-Montclair School District Category Makerspaces

Eager to provide hands-on learning that would expand upon classroom lessons, teachers at Vineyard STEM Magnet School in Southern California developed their own makerspace.

The makerspace, located in a single classroom, features materials, activities and resources that scale for students in grades K through 8. For example, a first-grade student might participate in a STEM learning task and then do something similar in third grade with a different level of rigor.