Survey Awards

At the Learning Counsel’s 2018 Annual Gathering and National Awards event in Houston, 10 innovative schools and districts were recognized for their transformational work in creating digital ecosystems that catalyze the learning experience and offer increased opportunities for both students and educators. Several Honorable Mentions were also recognized at the ceremony where top education executives from across the U.S. gathered to acknowledge the winners. While the Survey was open for respondents in 2018, Learning Counsel CEO Leilani Cauthen hosted more than 25 events in key metro areas across the nation where she had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of schools and districts about their digital realities. According to Cauthen, “The entire process of becoming digital is maturing. We’re finding real heroes across this new digital landscape, and learners are the beneficiaries.” The Learning Counsel also bestowed its three highest awards: The Industry Superhero award, The Education Superhero award, and the Lifetime Achievement award.

Superhero and Lifetime Awards
Presented at the 2018 Gathering


Learning Counsel presents the Superhero Award to industry and institution leaders once a year at our annual national Gathering event. Our method of selection is different from other award organizations in that we are looking at in more depth at these factors:

  • Institution or Company character. Learning Counsel is “in the field” more than any other research and media organization in the U.S. actually meeting and talking with school and district leaders. We hear the good and the bad, and we especially note what companies rise to the top as quality personalities on the industry landscape. When an institution or company has character, they are doing more than creating a good product, they are providing quality support and really doing something for students.
  • For Companies: product quality. A company’s tech creation needs to have dimensions of good user experience, a technical uniqueness, and if in the software space a quality design that is preferentially well-thought through user interface in terms of workflow and menus, levering/guiding teacher or student capacities, graphics use, animations use, directionality for instruction, alignment to academic standards, rigor and efficacy, integrations and technical file standards.
  • For Schools: real achievement. Stand-out levels of academic gain or different approaches to attain real personalization so every student succeeds, coupled with a dynamic and organized plan are important criteria.
  • Effective change. A company or school must demonstrate that they are creating effective change in education.
  • Personnel. It is important to Learning Counsel that the institution has truly engaged personnel and the respect of the industry.
  • Continuous Improvement. Both companies and schools need to have demonstrated that they are concerned with ongoing updating and continuous refinement of their product and services, watchful of the changes and trends in education.

Lifetime Achievement Awardees

The Learning Counsel meets truly extraordinary career educators, board members, politicians, or tech gurus who have spent a large portion of their lives in service to students and learning environments. We believe in glorifying these individuals as shining examples to be followed. A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Learning Counsel considers these factors:

  • Dedication. The individual must have shown a number of dedicated years to the mission of quality education.
  • Cause. The individual must have a worthy cause they have gotten behind within the education sector.
  • Character. The qualities of manners, service, positivity and leadership are considered.
  • Achievement. An accomplishment by the individual to improve education in some way.

2018 Superhero Award for Industry: Classlink

From left:
Dr. David Kafitz, VP School Relations, the Learning Counsel; Nichole Smith, VP of Instructional Technology, Classlink, ; Dr. KieshaTaylor, Government Digital Inclusion Specialist, T-Mobile

The Industry Superhero award was presented to ClassLink. ClassLink provides OneClick single sign-on into web and Windows applications, and instant access to files and sysems from anywhere. The Learning Counsel’s 2017 National Survey identified Single Sign-On as one of the significant issues needing to be addressed to simplify the daily access to the digital resources of a school district for students, for teachers and for school administrators. ClassLink was awarded Superhero status by also newly providing schools and school districts an overview of how digital resources are being used once implemented - making the utilization rate and return on investment analysis easily accessed for a variety of decision-making processes surrounding the teaching and learning process.

2018 Superhero Award for Education:
Renton Preparatory School

From left:
Dr. David Kafitz, VP School Relations, the Learning Counsel; Dr. David Paul Zimmerman, Chief Operating Officer, Renton Preparatory School, WA ; Gloria Zimmerman; Dr. KieshaTaylor, Government Digital Inclusion Specialist, T-Mobile

The Education Superhero award was presented to Renton Preparatory School. Renton Preparatory School is an example of what the future of student learning and school administration can be. Taking a systems approach to managing the personalization of student learning, Renton Prep has been at the forefront of the movement to embrace digital content and tools to transform the teaching and learning process. Their efforts to redesign the education experience has drawn the attention and praise of educators from around the world. Renton’s students are regular presenters at education conferences around the country on topics as complex at artificial intelligence. Beyond evolving the learning experience for the student, they have also redesigned the organizational structure of the school to better drive and deliver the learning experience that their students have come to expect.

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Haapala

From left:
Dr. David Kafitz, VP School Relations, the Learning Counsel; Peter Haapala, Interim Superintendent, Warroad Public Schools, MN; Mary Haapala; Dr. KieshaTaylor, Government Digital Inclusion Specialist, T-Mobile

The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Peter Haapala, Superintendent at Warroad Public Schools in Minnesota. Haapala has served in education for 30 years, from the classroom to the Superintendency. After retiring, Haapala graciously returned as Superintendent to again lead a school district needing his skills. Throughout his years in education, he has always been a forward thinker with the interest of students at the center of his motivation. His work as Superintendent to lead change in a rural, small school district is, by any standard, cutting edge. A mix of digital content use, digital devices for students, project-based learning, and complete professional development, are all exceptionally well executed in the small district of Warroad, MN. Executive staff, teachers and students alike adore Peter, and he has earned the great respect of educators and industry alike. For all of this, Mr. Haapala is given this Lifetime Achievement Award for his compassionate leadership excellence.

Past Award Recipients

2017 Superhero Award Orange County Public Schools, Florida

Orange County Public Schools is the proud home of the LaunchED Digital Learning Program, which is now in its fourth year of implementation. Annually OCPS deploys approximately 100,000 digital devices to staff and students at all twenty high schools, eleven middle schools, and six elementary schools. The digital transformation at these schools is led by Digital Curriculum Teacher Leaders at each site whom attend monthly professional development provided by district staff. Professional development focuses on how the seven key instructional systems can be leveraged to support personalized learning. Over the course of four years professional development supports the transition of classrooms from traditional instruction to transformative learning. To date, there are one hundred and eleven Digital Curriculum Teacher Leaders at LaunchED sites. This year, classroom teachers also have the ability to receive monthly direct instruction through the LaunchED courses housed in the Canvas learning management system Professional development begins one year before launch, this year the district is on-boarding its fifth cohort which add the remaining thirty-two middle school sites to the LaunchED program. OCPS is committed to be 1-to-1 by 2021!

2016 Awardees

2016 Glowing Screen Award – Industry: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Awarded for HMH Player for outstanding UI/UX design and technology leadership for schools and districts transitioning to digital curriculum

2016 Superhero Award Houston Independent School District

Houston ISD is a “Superhero” District with visionary leaders who push ever upward to higher heights of digital sophistication.

Top Schools Awarded at 2018 Gathering

At the Learning Counsel’s Annual Gathering event, ten leading districts were recognized for their vision and innovation in integrating digital curriculum and technology into their teaching and learning process. Attendees at the event included top education executives from around the U.S., who gathered to acknowledge exemplary progress and discuss how desiging for digital can enable schools to increase effectiveness and efficiency while creating personalied pathways for ever student.

This year’s recipients include the following:

Buckeye Union High School District Phoenix, AZ
Buckeye Union High School District is committed to ensuring all learners are ready for the future by providing an exemplary digitally-immersive high school experience.
Classical Online Academy, Escondido, CA
Classical Academy Online is a self-directed digital learning program that provides live supportive, collaborative workshops. Students work alongside teachers in an open, flexible community learning environment that is focused on preparing every student to become an exceptional thinker, communicator, and achiever.
Evergreen School District 114, Vancouver, WA
Evergreen School District 114’s transition to personalized learning, amplified by technology tools meant a significant shift in instructional design, including changes in how they select instructional materials, budget development, and measurement of what works.
Georgia Department of Education – Georgia Virtual, Atlanta, GA
Georgia Virtual school delivers quality digital material with refined technical interoperability between a myriad of learning systems. This unique state and national offering allows data to enhance and inform the personalized learning process for students and teachers.
Highline Public Schools, Burien, WA
Highline Public Schools promises to know every student by name, strength and need, and to engage students in personalized learning across all grade levels. Highline’s unique work includes preparing students for project and inquiry-based learning through a digital citizenship initiative.
Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX
Houston Independent School District maintains a major 1-1 device initiative, a deep digital library of over 2 million curriculum and software resources in an integrated environment that provides students and teachers safe resources for instructional activities and is working on remodeled teaching and learning spaces to suit the new learning realities.
Lammersville Joint Unified School District, Mountain House, CA
Lammersville has used technology to increase efficiency and provide meaningful data on demand to personalize instruction.  A proud accomplishment towards this goal is the development of a year-long cohort based Blended Learning Academy and Advanced Academy for professional development.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, CA
LAUSD is ensuring digital navigation skills and digital literacy for all teachers and students. As the nation’s 2nd largest school district, LAUSD has reimagined models of support to reach the 60,000 educators who serve a student body of over 600,000.
Meriden Public Schools,
Meriden, CT

The Meriden Public Schools aligned technology and curriculum to ensure that technology was infused in all aspects of course content.  With devices in the hands of students, key digital content partners onboard, and staff supports in place, Meriden’s transformation inc.
Warroad Public Schools,
Warroad, MN

To focus on personalized student-centered learning, Warroad adopted a Learning Management System (LMS), hired an Innovation Facilitator, signed on with Zia Learning to provide professional learning for all teachers, and synced their Student Information System with the LMS. Upgrades to Wi-Fi bandwidth created access throughout the school campus as part of a complete facilities renovation that improves the user experience with digital curriculum at all grade levels.

The following schools were awarded Honorable Mentions:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC

Dekalb County Public Schools, Stone Mountain, GA

District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C.

Moose Lake Community School, Moose Lake, MN

New York City Department of Education, New York, NY

Philadelphia Public Schools, Philadelphia, PA

Pickerington Local School District, Pickerington, OH

Santa Ana Unified School District, Santa Ana, CA

St. Katharine Drexel Academy, San Diego, CA

Download Full Press Releases >>>>