Each year, the Learning Counsel uses data collected from the National Digital Transition Survey to help determine that year’s Learning Leadership Society Award winners. In past years, this was a difficult task. This year, it was a monumental task. The reason? The amount of talent and digital transition progress on display was the best it has ever been. And unlike previous years when there were a handful of easily identifiable frontrunners, this year spawned an uncanny number of success stories, and there were so many deserving individuals and institutions that quantifying the results was a herculean task.
Fortunately, the crew at the Learning Counsel were up to the task.
In this video, Learning Counsel Chief Academic Officer Chris McMurray congratulates winners and shares some of the successes these leading schools and districts have realized. As a special treat, Innovator Award Winner Meriden School District’s Superintendent Superintendent Mark Benigni, Ed.D. and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching Barbara Haeffner stopped by to give us their take on digital success.
Meriden Public Schools won the Innovator Award, in large part because of dramatic innovations in use of time to drive math achievement well above national norms, trend aware and responsive to shifting cultural expectations, provisions for tech to provide team teaching, and application of many tech tools and advanced systems. According to Benigni, “We all know we can no longer educate our students the way we used to. We also know that augmented and virtual reality has put the world at our students’ fingertips. Regardless of socioeconomic status or prior learning experiences, all students must be able to access digital resources to expand their world.”
“We all learn differently,” said Benigni, “and voice and choice matter, both for our students and our staff. Learning spaces must be versatile, and we must embrace anytime, anywhere learning. We are very much driven by our data. It starts with data collection, and then analyzation, and then, it’s how are we going to use our data to drive our innovations? For us, one of our key innovations has been our digital transformation, and we’re fortunate to have all our elementary students learning a new language, the language of coding.”
You’ll hear in wonderful detail the ways that Meriden has been transitioning the district to provide amazing opportunities for their learners.
Also stopping by were Kahle Charles and Michelle Bourgeois from St. Vrain Valley Schools, winner of the District of Distinctive Excellence Award. According to Bourgeois, “one thing that Kahle (Charles) and I joke about is that it's kind of like a marriage. A successful marriage isn't a 50 50 partnership, it's a 70, 70 partnership. And so, I think that what we think about often is, how do we ensure that we are deeply collaborating between curriculum and technology, between our schools and our resources that we make available between our community and our system?”
“And guess what? We have no snow days anymore,” said Charles. “We have online learning days, and that's part of our championship culture. That's part of academic excellence by design. We're not going to slow down our learning because the weather is bad outside. We have the technology now that we can have online learning days.”
This video is a wonderful, fun and entertaining look at some uber-successful district winners, and the practices they have found to increase learning exponentially, leveraging technology along the way. Many of their practices can be your practices, and you’ll find new successes for your learners – all thanks to these Learning Leadership Society Award winners.