Recognizing the nation’s best K-12 success stories during the school year in the era of the pandemic, eSchool News honors three winners for their exceptional efforts to help all students continue their learning, while ensuring students feel safe, empowered, and engaged.
Gaithersburg, MD (Monday, October 3, 2022) — eSchool Media is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 competition eSchool News K-12 Hero AwardsSponsored by JAR systems and SAP Competitionand dedicated to recognizing the innovative contributions of K-12 education professionals.
Winners of eSchool News’ K-12 Hero Awards program:
- Dr. Ann Hughes, Director of Student Intervention for Sanger ISD in Texas
Nominated by Training effects
- Kim Leblanc, director of technology for the Calcasieu Parish School Board in Louisiana
Nominated by Blue
- Daniel Olivas, network analyst at Austin Independent School District in Texas.
Nominated by Identity Automation
The winners were chosen for their commitment to education during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, their creativity and innovation in helping all students continue their learning while ensuring students feel safe, empowered and engaged.
Nominations were judged by a panel of education experts, including Laura Ascione, Editorial Director of eSchool News, Kevin Hogan, Editor-in-Chief of eSchool News, and Eileen Belastock, CETL, Belastock Consulting.
“eSchool Media would like to thank JAR Systems and SAP Concur for sponsoring the K-12 Hero Awards program. The program is in its second year and has been a huge success. We are grateful to everyone who submitted nominations and took the time to recognize educators’ commitment to students and their learning,” said Nancy David, Executive Vice President of eSchool Media.
Here is a brief overview of each winner:
Dr. Ann Hughes, Director of Student Intervention, Sanger ISD, nominated by Training effects
Ann’s students face a myriad of challenges, including issues such as depression, hyperactivity disorder, and anger. Struggling students often come to Linda Tutt from other districts in the state as a last resort. In short, Ann’s program is the last hope to put these children on the right track.
Ann has limited resources, both in terms of funding and personnel. However, she addresses these challenges holistically and creatively. She stops students every day to engage in meaningful conversations about their lives. She draws from programs like Training Effects for Teens, which offers modules that address a wide range of issues, including mental health, personal trauma and academic challenges. Ann has designated single rooms throughout campus dedicated to giving students space to congregate. There is a movement room to eliminate excess energy and a relaxation room to relax. Music, yoga and dance are other key elements she incorporates to reach her students.
To fill funding and human resource gaps, Ann has led community partnerships with local churches and charities, which provide psychological support not available at school. These collaborations allowed students to hone their farming skills in community gardens and learn how to run a business through a non-profit grocery store.
Kim Leblanc, Director of Technology, Calcasieu Parish School Board, nominated by Blue
Conventional wisdom would say that economically disadvantaged schools across the country should think twice before making a major investment in technology. However, not every district in this predicament has a chief technology officer like Kim Leblanc. The Calcasieu Parish School Board serves 29,500 students in 60 schools. It is a 100% CEP district, which means that every student is entitled to a free lunch based on economic poverty data submitted to the federal government.
Calcasieu Parish School Board Director of Technology Kim Leblanc has developed a system to deliver the kind of technology in classrooms that would only be expected in affluent schools. Under Kim’s leadership, Calcasieu Parish conducted a thorough needs assessment before purchasing more than $4.1 million in technology and technology professional development with federal Title I and Title IV funds for implement the technology into the existing program. The investment included 400 3D printers and the professional development needed to advance STEAM education, most of which came at no cost to the district. He is also developing a STEM bus with fun tech gadgets to enhance student learning.
The Calcasieu Parish Technical Training Center, run by Kim, has already been instrumental in bringing new technologies to its classrooms, including robotics and a computing device for every student and teacher. Armed with a philosophy to “make it happen in the classroom,” Calcasieu Parish and Kim are committed to preparing students for STEAM careers, exemplified by their investments in student design competitions, tech camps, and more. summer and the STEM bus. Students are already using 3D printers in classrooms to solve real-world problems and develop 3D design skills within projects.
Daniel Olivas, Network Analyst, Austin Independent School District, nominated by Identity Automation
The pandemic has accelerated the shift to remote and blended learning, and it has made school districts the number one target of cyberattacks. As the fifth largest school district in Texas, Austin Independent School District was no exception. Guided by the motto “AISD Anywhere,” the district has used the pandemic as an opportunity to provide more than 100,000 students, teachers, staff, parents, and other users with safe access to classroom tools from anywhere. any Wi-Fi network.
As a network analyst at Austin ISD, Daniel Olivas led the implementation of an identity-centric zero-trust security strategy that ensured that access was not only user-friendly, but secure. Unlike traditional perimeter-focused security approaches, Austin ISD’s zero-trust approach assumes that all network traffic is untrusted until an identity has been verified – an essential step in securing an ecosystem. digital accessible from anywhere.
To connect Austin ISD’s digital ecosystem and orient it around digital identities, Olivas leveraged the district’s long-standing identity and access management (IAM) platform, RapidIdentity, to grant individuals access to needed applications, while linking data from those applications to the correct digital identity. Acting as the new perimeter of Austin ISD’s digital environment, RapidIdentity has helped Austin ISD strengthen security and become a leader in K-12 authentication and zero trust.
“The K-12 Hero Awards program highlights some of the amazing and innovative examples of how educators at all levels have worked tirelessly to ensure students can continue to learn during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning looks a little different now, as schools emerge from the heart of the pandemic and address learning gaps, equity issues and increased opportunities to use technology. It is inspiring to see, among the many nominations received by eSN, the dedication of educators across our country to our students and their learning,” Ascione commented.
In the coming weeks, Hero Award nominations will be featured on eSchoolNews.com. Winners and runners-up will be featured on the site throughout Fall 2022 and on the eSchool News podcast Innovations in educationhosted by Hogan.
The program winners and all finalists will also be published in a personalized K-12 Hero Awards ebook at the end of the program, which will be available for download.
eSchool News is an online platform that provides daily news and information for K-12 education administrators, educators, and technology professionals. For over twenty years, eSchool News has been dedicated to the advancement and wise use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Find out more about eSchoolNews.com.
About eSchool Media
eSchool Media is a digital marketing and personalized content service platform. Through eSchool News and eCampus News, eSchool Media provides original daily news, objective analysis, resources and information for decision-making education professionals in K-12 and higher education. eSchool Media meets the advertising and marketing needs of companies and organizations that wish to influence and do business with its loyal and professional audience of education decision makers.
Marketing Director, eSchool Media, Inc.